Jueteng is an illegal numbers game in the Philippines. The game is played by placing bets, and the bets are not huge. In the deep hidden mansions of its operators are sacks of coins— five bucks, ten bucks, because the game is played by ordinary people. For the longest time, people have been up in arms against the numbers’ game. The game has never really died.
It is a huge money making engine rivaled only by the euphoria of the masses at some religious event.
We call those running the illegal numbers game, Jueteng Lords, like something out of Star Wars. They’re open secrets to those living under their shadow. They’re Lords because like some mafia movie, they can be pretty benevolent.
Imagine the scene like something out of Hollywood. The house is huge, like some palace. The surrounding is opulent, but not extremely so. Outside armed guards patrol the grounds. Every hour on the hour, a group would climb into a Van, and patrol the village as if it was part of the perimeter.
Catholic nuns walking the entire length of a corridor leading up to the office of the Jueteng Lord.
“We came to ask for some donation, the local church badly needs repairs and the clinic is running out of supplies” a Catholic sister explained to the Jueteng Lord.
“Go ahead sister. Go to the next room and take how much you can carry.”
And the Catholic nuns would be taken to the next room and would lift sacks of coins onto their light truck and speed away.
Politicians from the highest to the lowest, from officials of the police to members of the clergy, have at some point or another been linked to the illegal numbers game. To call the officials of government and clergy on their culpability in this as twisted or corrupt would be a misnomer. Why would the norm be wrong?
Year in and year out, we talk about Jueteng. Everybody knows it is illegal, but it is damn sure as hell being played by the masses, and no— to call them ignorant of the fact that too is a wrong assumption.
Jueteng in a nutshell is the opium of the massess.
The pretense is incredulous.
Why do the masses do it then? Why do the masses gamble when they have so little already? Why do people smoke when they’ve got nothing in their pocket? Why is the government’s Lottery popular too? The masses try their luck at a winning hand in the hopes of rising above poverty. Five bucks after all— in anyone’s mind hardly means anything. In other words, the price is right. The entry level for Jueteng is so low that price isn’t an issue.
Is the answer then to raise the financial wellbeing of the massess? People gamble when they are rich. People gamble when they are poor.
The only one losing with the illegality of Jueteng is the national treasury. It never gets a cut.
Is the answer therefore— to make Jueteng legal? Make gambling in the Philippines legal and then the government can come in and officially say, “we want our cut.”
Is the answer therefore moral or spiritual— make people realize that there are better ways to spend their time and their money on?
How then does one weed out the addiction of the masses?
Do we really need to, in the first place?
Jueteng is an opium of the masses.
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