MANILA, Philippines?The thought of winning more than half a billion pesos in Saturday night?s 6/55 Grand Lotto has driven some people to prayer and others to superstitious practices.
Some, like Samuel dela Cruz, just rely on the power of dreams.
?There are times I get two to three correct numbers that I saw in my dreams,? the 67-year-old Dela Cruz, a frequent lotto bettor, told the Inquirer.
Not satisfied with what his dreams tell him, Dela Cruz has also consulted a Binondo feng shui expert who advised him to wear his favorite shirt when he goes to a lotto outlet to place his bet.
Biggest jackpot in PH lotto
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Thursday said it expected the Grand Lotto jackpot to reach P535 million on Saturday?the biggest jackpot in the history of the lottery in the Philippines.
The last time anyone won the 6/55 game was on May 12 this year when the pot amounted to P136.6 million, which went to a lone winner. There have been 81 draws since with no one hitting the jackpot, according to an Inquirer count.
Linda tries rosary
Dela Cruz, of Barangay Palanan, Makati City, will be wearing a yellow shirt when he puts his bet in the 82nd draw.
?According to a feng shui expert I consulted, it?s my lucky color and I should wear it whenever I gamble,? he said. ?So I wear the same shirt every time I go to betting stations.?
Some bettors pick numbers in random. Many rely on numbers that have significance in their lives?numbers related to their ages, birthdays and other important dates.
Linda Oducayen, 45, a housemaid of a Chinese-Filipino family in Pasay City, prays harder these days.
?I don?t usually pray the rosary, but now I do, especially a few hours before I bet,? she said in Filipino when interviewed at a lotto station in Pasay. ?I really want to win because this is the only way I know that could free my family from poverty.?
?Even if I work to death, I couldn?t give them a comfortable life, so I?m taking my chances on this,? she added.
Praying for miracle
Oducayen has remained single ?by choice because I don?t need another mouth to feed.?
?But maybe if I win big, I?ll change my mind and get married immediately,? she said, laughing.
Merly Espejo, 47, of Makati City, said that apart from praying the novenas at the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, she also donates money to the church, hoping for a miracle when she bets.
A staffer in a Pasay City parish church said she had noticed that there were more people in church on the day of a draw.
?Many people really want to become rich in an instant but until now nobody has won. I guess it?s because some priests I know are praying that nobody wins,? said the staffer, who requested anonymity because she did not want to get into trouble.
She did not explain why a priest would say such a prayer.
Fr. Cris Magbitang, vice dean of studies at the Don Bosco Center of Studies in Parañaque City, however, said he saw nothing wrong with betting in the lottery.
He admitted that once in a while, he also placed bets on lotto, ?just for fun or out of curiosity.?
Magbitang said he had made a bet twice on the Grand Lotto. Should he win, he intends to use the money to help people in need.
?It would be my way of paying back,? he said, recalling that the PCSO helped him in 2005 when he was operated on for a cataract and for lens implant on both of his eyes.
But he finds the practice of some people of having their lotto tickets blessed by a priest a bit too much.
God knows best
Asked if he thinks God listens to people who pray that they win lotteries, Magbitang said: ?I believe that God listens to all our prayers. But whether he grants it is another story. Listening doesn?t mean granting.?
?God knows what is best for us. He knows our needs and He may have other ways for us to meet our needs, not necessarily through betting or gambling. Sometimes He responds through other channels,? he said.
Fr. Gil Alinsangan, the rector of St. Paul Seminary Foundation in Silang, Cavite, told the Inquirer: ?God answers prayers. But his answer may not be what you want but what God wants for you.?
?If you have prayed to win the lotto but did not, God may be saying that winning the lotto may not be good for you and that he has another or a better way of answering your prayer,? Alinsangan said.
Right way, wrong way
Caloocan?s Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez looks at lotto differently.
Iñiguez, the chair of the Catholic Bishops? Conference of the Philippines? public affairs committee, said gambling was ?incompatible with Christianity and invoking God for good luck is flawed.?
The bishop said he ?understands? people praying to God to win the lotto but he frowns on bettors who reportedly rub their tickets on the images of saints, hoping it would bring them good fortune.
?There?s a right way of expressing spirituality and religious sentiments. It?s a defect,? Iñiguez told reporters.
Another way of praying
Websites of religious people offering prayers and healing services have been deluged with requests for prayers from bettors wanting to win.
The blog of Sister Raquel Reodica, of the Mother Ignacia Healing Ministry, received a request from a woman who wanted God to make her win because she could not afford a surgical operation.
The nun?s advice: ?Maybe it?s better to ask Him to help in your financial problem rather than making it very specific, like winning in lotto.? With reports from Jerome Aning and Inquirer Research