Monday, March 18, 2019

Sangil: ‘Advance akong mag-isip’

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“ADVANCE akong mag-isip.” The new street lingo. And this item is for the millennials. Many years ago however, when a friend will claim that he had only three preoccupation and these are ABS, it means Alak, Babae, Sugal. I want to tell you about my friend Rico Guilas, a retired district engineer of Department of Public Works and Highways. No one can match Rico when delivering a punchline. He regularly regale with his jokes his many friends at Monday Club, Wednesday Club and Rotary Club of Angeles where he is an outstanding member. And if not cracking one he will advance a sociological situation.

He said most men, poor and rich will have enjoyed drinking, having chicks on the side, and may have played cards, went to watch cockfighting derbies or enjoyed betting at the casinos.

But somehow, as one grows older, the doctors will advise you to stop drinking. Your fatty liver is already a cause for concern. You either lose your appetite on women, and ladies are no longer interested in you. Somehow you are now disconnected with the thrill the two has provided you over the years, and only gambling can give you excitement even if you are at the edge of twilight years, according to Rico. I am also a witness to how older people, even on wheelchairs, are playing small time on slot machines just to while their time. I remember former Governor Cong Quitong Nepomuceno and wife the late Atsing Saning whonever missed playing mahjong in the afternoon when going out of the house was already a no-no.

I have several friends spending their afternoons at the Villa Angela tennis court club house where buddies play tong-its, a local card game. Once or twice a week I drop-by and there is a table for tong-its that if you lose two hundred pesos for 4 hours of playing you must be really unlucky. The excitement of gambling will never escape even those people in wheelchair.

Some years back and mostly on Saturdays I can be found at the Pagcor casino in Balibago. To be precise on the third floor starting at 4 PM. You may ask one of my favorite priests, Monsignor Sonny Lumanog of Immaculate Concepcion parish, what me and sometimes with former Congressman Tarzan Lazatin doing there.

On my way up to the third floor using the escalator, you see patrons, mostly senior citizens pinning hopes to hit the jackpot on those slot machines. I see almost the same faces everytime. I asked lawyer Joe Quitalig who is a regular if he loses money in the casino. He said he 'already have a boarding pass on my way to heaven, and I might as well compensate my hardwork I did when I was raising my family by enjoying myself now, and only through this means I do fill my hours'.

When I served as member of the board of Clark Development Corporation (CDC) I was elected director-in-charge for gaming operation and even drafted the ordinance for casino operation inside the zone. The casinos earn tremendous revenues, and it earned more income for CDC.

There are now several casinos inside the Clark Freeport. More are rising . The Filinvest group will put a modern one at Mimosa. Sun Valley will have one at their Hilton Hotel. Casablanca will reopen with a new owner. At the nearby Medical City of the 177 hectares bought in billions by Davao City businessman Dennis Uy a ultra modern one that can compare with those in Macao will be up in few years. For high rollers and medium players there are freebies if you accumulate points like a stay in their hotels and free dinner.

The casinos also conduct weekly raffles and give to winners cash prizes. There were shows and bingo games that older people enjoy immensely. The Korean owned Widus is expanding to accommodate more foreign visitors. Nearby is the Marriot Hotel scheduled to open in September. Pagcor casino, formerly operated by Jose Antonio Gonzalez, renovated its gambling hall and provide weekly shows featuring artists from Manila. Reden Rivera, the general manager of Pagcor Angeles wants to draw the foreign players and of course prepared something for senior citizens.


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