THERE is one in 32,468,436 chances you will win in the 6/55 lottery. This means it’s close to impossible for you to win. Our family took the gamble of a different sort and won.

Our family did not see it coming when my grandfather, whom we fondly call Papang, had to be admitted to the hospital due to his failing heart. The doctor said that Papang needed to undergo angioplasty, which however would be no guarantee his life would be prolonged. This made us resort to the other option—a bypass surgery—in which the results would be better.

But the surgery would also be more expensive. Every relative was asked to contribute to the costs of the surgery. But despite pooling resources, our clan still could not pay for the astronomical costs of the bypass.

A family friend suggested we seek the assistance of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). This was during the height of the “Pajero” inquiry in the Senate in which the PCSO was accused of leaking to the press the audit report of the Catholic bishops getting funds from the agency to buy “Pajero” or luxury vehicles. No Pajero or luxury vehicle was found, merely SUV’s. But the damage was done, and PCSO chair Margarita Juico was praised by the anti-Church sector and vilified by the supporters of the bishops. It was at this time when my mother went to the PCSO and there was a bedlam of reporters there. But she was unfazed.

She asked me to write a formal letter to the PCSO, outlining Papang’s condition and the need for the PCSO to provide our family assistance. I used all the resources of my imagination to impress the PCSO officialdom of the pathos of our situation. My melodramatic letter was worthy of a Maalaala Mo Kaya? episode.

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My mother handed the letter to the PCSO with a rosary clasped firmly in her hand. We waited and as the days passed, the hospital bill ballooned.

But much to our relief, the PCSO granted us assistance. It was just a fraction of the total bill, but it helped greatly.

Now, my Papang has completely recovered.

I am not defending the PCSO for leaking to the press damaging misinformation about the bishops and for cutting assistance to several Catholic social welfare organizations in what has been alleged to be a vindictive campaign against bishops critical of President Aquino. But I am thanking it for rushing to our aid.

We may not have literally won the jackpot prize of the 6/55 lottery, but what happened to us was tantamount to winning, and it came at the moment when we needed it the most.

So I don’t mind if I play the lottery every day for the rest of my life. I am not after winning the jackpot, since probability statistics would show that’s very improbable. But I will buy lotto tickets in order to give back to the PCSO and so that it would have the wherewithal to help the poor and the needy.

Merry Christmas!

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