HAS ANYONE ever won in that controversial numbers game that is all the fad again, thanks to all these messianic condemnations by no less than a renowned bishop of the Church?

I have. It was a paltry win—just several hundreds—but that was over a decade ago; I was a prepubescent, still in elementary school, and the prize was to me just hundreds of thousands short of a million.

For all the detraction that it gets, jueteng and all those other betting games, like “ending”, has great appeal to those who doesn’t have much to do except laze all day and talk to neighbors over fences. It’s addictive, especially after you’ve learned the translation of dreams and events into numbers (a pregnant woman is a six, a cross-eyed man is a 23, and so on). And your bet can be as low as a single peso, so how could it hurt?

But jueteng was stopped in our town and province when Chavit Singson was the one who turned messiah (more St. Paul, actually) and raved about how former President Joseph Estrada was receiving billions of pesos in jueteng payoffs.

Not long after EDSA II, however, the game returned to our streets, so excuse me if now I’m a little nonchalant at the attention it is getting now. It was bound to happen one way or the other. It was only a matter of time.

Probably, history will again repeat itself. As of the moment, a major crackdown on jueteng operations has been ordered as a result of a series of exposes involving the first family. Nevertheless, I feel harvest will again be plenty for the jueteng lords once the issue cools down as it is a vicious cycle.

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I am not a chronic gambler; I don’t even know how bets are made in the popular card game, tong-its, unlike most of my friends. I make a jueteng bet less than ten times in a year, at five pesos each bet. What makes me try again after some time? Part thrill, part lack of something to do. It usually happens just after lunch, at siesta time, when the jueteng runners are taking bets for the final “bola”.

I have never won again after that lucky shot years ago, despite having more vivid dreams in recent months. But I must say fortune in the game doesn’t only involve winning. To stop it completely, you also must have Lady Luck on your side. I kid you not, having seen it come back after several disappearances. Good luck at licking jueteng. I am sincere.

(Conservatives, skip the next paragraph.)

Like that population thing. We often wonder why the poor, despite their difficulty in sustaining families, are the ones with five or more kids, all grimy and naked, following the family kariton like newborn ducks. But why should we wonder? Sex is the cheapest entertainment they can avail of. The husband and wife who live below the poverty line can’t afford a night out, so why go out when they can enjoy themselves (you may interpret that in any way) indoors? Others even do it under the stars and moonlight. Never mind the coarse street pavement and the soot. And as our poorer countrymen number more than the rest of us, to those who are trying to curb a much-feared unbridled population growth, I wish you luck, too.

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But back to jueteng. So what do we do about it?

Tax it. If you can’t beat them—so far, where have we gone in the fight against jueteng?—join them jueteng lords. Or make them join the legit gambling circle. It has been tried before. Only Chavit wasn’t given the north operations, or so they say, and that is why he cried foul.

Let’s try again. Legitimize jueteng. What are we to lose? There are legit games like the lotto anyway. And don’t give me “you’re only saying that because you won”. It will be one big revenue source, admit it. Anyway, all forms of income are taxable regardless of their source. Isn’t government revenue a new fad, too, what with all these attention-grabbing tax evasion cases they are filing left and right?

Better jueteng than abortion disguised in a women’s health issue—we won’t get anything out of that except risking the child-bearing capacity of women thanks to the effects of abortifacients Better jueteng than prostitution, which, I believe, spurred legitimization talks years ago, too.

Well?

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