A Filipino bakeshop delivery van driver in Abu Dhabi who hails from Pangasinan won AED1 million, or roughly P13 million, at a raffle draw.
Roland Baltazar, 38, expressed how happy he was in an interview with GMA News Online. “Masayang-masaya. Hindi po ako nakatulog. Tumaas pa ang blood pressure ko (I’m so happy, I couldn’t sleep, my blood pressure has shot up),” he said.
Roland said that the money will cover a lot of expenses, including paying off debts so he can finally go home for a break. “Ang dami kong mga utang sa mga kaibigan at kamag-anak sa Pilipinas. Kaya hindi ako makauwi kasi hindi makabayad. Ngayon uumpisahan ko na silang bayaran,” Roland said.
(I have so many outstanding debts in the Philippines, and it’s why I can’t go home. Now I can start paying them.)
Roland, who has been in the UAE for the past 10 years, said spending money on the transfer of their family’s land title from their grandparents to his mother tops his priority list.
He also considers his dream wedding with his live-in partner of three years. Roland added that his future wife is just as excited as he is. “Number combination nya kasi yun. (That was her number combination),” he said, referring to the winning combination.
As a business venture, Rolando might also invest in a condo unit. But he said he’d be more inclined to pursue farming and fisheries. “Mabilis maubos ang pera. Nagtitingin-tingin ako ng mabi-business kung sakaling mag-for good na (Money can be gone quickly, so I’m considering setting up a business so that I can go home for good),” he said.
“For good” is a common term among OFWs in UAE, which means returning home without intent to work abroad again.
Roland said he already set aside money for his two kids that he has from his first romantic partnership, the eldest of whom is 16 years old, the youngest, 10. His current partner, a widow, has a child.
Roland is not the first OFW to recently win in the raffle draw held by Mahzooz, the only weekly live draw in the region that offers players the chance to change their lives.
Just this May, a 31-year-old single mom working as an office manager at an HR Consultancy won AED201,000, roughly P2.63 million pesos. Wendy Arroz, who hails from Cagayan Valley, told GMA News Online that she will use the money to settle a housing loan she got two years ago for her daughter.
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. The views expressed are her own.