When it rains, it pours – as the clichéd phrase about something happening more than once, goes.
Overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) have never won big in any of the regular grand raffle draws that have become staples of life in the UAE. So what really were the chances of having five win life-changing prizes in only a span of about three months? Masha`Allah indeed!
Al Dizon Banzil, an engineer; Leilani Quijano Del Rosario, a nurse; Silvia Valdez, a household service worker; Edumundo Catangay who has been working abroad for just about two years; and Sheila Pascasio, an executive secretary, have two things in common: one, they join raffle promos but leave their chances to the cosmic powers-that-be; and, they are now all on cloud nine with their new-found fortune.
Here are their stories.
Engr. Al Dizon Banzil, Al Ansari Rewards raffle draw winner shows off his Dh1 million cash. (Gelin Castro)
Twist of fate
A civil engineer working as a quality surveyor at a Sharjah construction company, Al Dizon Banzil has, throughout his 12 years as an OFW in the UAE, religiously been sending money to his wife and daughter in Pampanga. He had also been praying that fate be good and allow him to bring his family to the UAE.
Came a day when Al Ansari Exchange, the remittance company he has been entrusted his money to be sent home, held a promo – the Rewards Millionaire Raffle Draw. Lo and behold! On that fateful Aug. 23, Banzil won the Dh1 million (Ph14 million) grand prize.
“Wala akong maisip na gawin sa pera sa ngayon (I couldn’t think of what I’m going to do with the money),” exclaimed Banzil when asked by The Filipino Times about his plans just minutes after he was announced winner.
Of course, because now, he doesn’t have to keep praying for his wife and daughter to be with him as he works in Sharjah. In a curious twist of fate, he can now go home for good and be with them.
“Gusto ko lang talaga na makauwi at makapiling ang pamilya ko. Bago ako nagdecide na mag-abroad, sinabi ko sa sarili ko na dapat madala ko yung family ko dito pero hindi nagwork-out yung plano kasi hindi sapat yung budget,” said Banzil. (I only just want to go home and be with my family. Before I decided to be an OFW, I told myself that I will bring my wife and daughter here. But it didn’t work out because my budget was just not enough.)
Himself a son of an OFW, Banzil vowed to spend his fortune wisely.
“Galing din ako sa pamilyang ang tatay ay parating wala dahil nasa abroad. Kaya nung nag-asawa ako, sinabi ko sa sarili ko na ayaw kong mangyari iyon sa aking pamilya. Gusto ko magkakasama kami,” he said. (I came from a family where the father was constantly away, working abroad. That’s why I told myself when I got married that I will not let the same thing happen to my family. I want us to stay together.)
He added, “Kaya alam mo yung sakripisyo para magkapera at makasama yung mga mahal mo sa buhay. Kaya iingatan ko itong perang ito dahil alam ko kung gaano kahirap maghanap ng pera. Siyempre pag-uusapan namin ng asawa ko kung ano ang gagawin naming sa pera.” (That’s why I know the sacrifices involved trying to make a living and being away at the same time. I will treasure this money, knowing the difficulties how to earn it. Of course, my wife and I will discuss what to do with it.)
Leilani Quijano del Rosario an Abu Dhabi nurse who won Dh1 million at the Big Ticket Abu Dhabi raffle draw held October 5.
‘Sharing the moolah’
Another instant millionaire is Leilani Quijano Del Rosario, an Abu Dhabi nurse who won Dh1 million at the Big Ticket Abu Dhabi raffle draw held October 5.
Del Rosario was the first Filipino to win a million from the “Big Ticket Millionaire,” the longest-running and biggest prize raffle draw hosted at Abu Dhabi International Airport which is now on its 15th year.
The single mother of three said she will divide the money among 15 other friends who chipped in to buy the Dh500 raffle ticket.
When contacted by TFT, she politely declined to give anymore interviews.
“I regret to inform you that I have no interest in doing further interviews for safety and privacy reasons especially of my children in the Philippines. Thank you so much for your understanding,” Del Rosario said in her WhatsApp message.
Del Rosario, the main shareholder of the ticket said in earlier media interview that she will use her share of the Dh1 million to pay her loans and send her children off to college.
Silvia Valdez, winner of a brand new Nissan Patrol from Al Ansari Exhange Rewards grand raffle promo. (Gelin Castro)
Rice trading business from Nissan Patrol
“Ayaw ko pang umuwi. Malakas pa naman ako,” (I don’t want to go home yet. I am still able-bodied), said Silvia Valdez when asked what she plans to do with her winning.
A household service worker who has been working in the UAE for the past 10 years, luck played on Valdez’ side at the Aug. 23 Al Ansari Exchange Rewards Millionaire Raffle Draw, and gave her a brand new Nissan Patrol. The sports utility vehicle (SUV) starts at an estimated price of Dh176,000 (Ph2.47 million).
“Ibebenta ko lang yung sasakyan tapos ipadala ko lahat ng pera para mapaayos ko yung bahay namin sa probinsiya,” said the mother of four. (I will sell the SUV then send all the money to the Philippines so we could have our house in the province fixed.)
Valdez added, “Siguro magtatayo kami ng maliit na bigasan kasi yun talaga ang pangarap kong negosyo kung bibigyan ng pagkakataon. At ito na iyon.” (We’ll probably open a small rice trading company, which has always been my dream business. This is it.)
Edumundo Catangay receives his prize from DCC representative. (photo contributed by MAF Group)
Gold buys a house and lot
What was a gold bracelet bought probably to reward himself or as a gift to a loved one turned out to be the key to a kilo of gold for Edumundo Catangay.
Catangay won Dh150,000 (Ph2 million) worth of 1 kg gold at the Dubai Summer Surprises Festival raffle draw held last August. He bought a gold bracelet in Malabar on July 28 worth Dh1,700 which qualified him for the draw.
He said he first received a phone call about his prize on August 15 but ignored it thinking it was a prank call. In fact, Catangay said he couldn’t even remember entering in a draw.
It was already August 20, when he finally confirmed that, indeed, he has won.
“I remember received calls, like five times on Tuesday, August 15. I thought they were pranks. But on Sunday, August 20, I finally was able to confirme I did really win the prize. I was very happy,” Catangay said.
Catangay said he usually joins raffle draws “for potential wins,” but it was his first time to actually win. The OFW said he has already sent all the money to his family back home to be used to purchase house and lot.
Sheila Pascasio, lucky winner of Dh10,000 from UAE Exchange Win A Home in Dubai promo. (photo contributed by Sheila Pascasio)
‘Was meant to be’
Like Banzil and Valdez, Sheila Pascasio’s luck was brought about by her loyalty to one exchange center. Pascasio, who’s been a customer of UAE Exchange for the past 12 years, won Dh10,000 (Ph140,260) at the global remittance company’s recently concluded “Win a Home in Dubai” summer promotion.
The 37-year-old executive secretary said she had never expected winning whenever she joins any raffle draw.
“I believe that if it is not meant for me, God is giving it to some else who needs it more than I do,” Pascasio told The Filipino Times.
Pascasio sent half her cash prize to her family back home, gave a portion to charity, and kept the rest for herself.
She said her family was surprised and was happy for her. She also shared that no major changes happened to her lifestyle though she is now more moneyed.
“My lifestyle has not changed. From the start I have lived a very simple yet comfortable life here in the UAE,” she said.