Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This was published in the December 1, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

“I used to be a heavy gambler. But now I just make mental bets. That’s how I lost my mind.”— Steve Allen

Lotto makes me feel good. It allows me to dream in between draws. The disappointment that comes with losing lasts only until the next draw. What is a few hours disappointment compared to several days of optimism?

A friend told me that my chances of winning 6/55 are one in 26 million. He said I had better chances of getting hit by lightning. I pointed out that my chances were zero if I didn’t play the game. Last Sunday he called me up and said,”I’d still be rich if you didn’t make me bet on the lotto.”

My caddy is praying novenas and making panatas, believing that if she behaved well and promised to do charitable work, God will give her P750M. “You should also pray for the jackpot,” she suggested.

“I won’t because God is against gambling and He would be encouraging me to gamble some more if He makes me win.”

“Hay, sir, bahala ka sa buhay mo!” she said, exasperated by my twisted logic. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

As I was holing out my last putt, I heard a faint whisper coming from my left, “Pray to me, I invented gambling; I can make you win.”

On the way home, my golfing buddy asked why I looked so disturbed. I told him about the sinister whisper that I heard as I was putting and pondering whether or not it was right to ask God for the jackpot.

He replied, “God does not exist so the Devil cannot exist.”

I didn’t want to get into an argument with an atheist when all I looking for was a surefire way to win the jackpot so I asked him,

Aasa na lang ba ako sa Swerti?” [So I should just rely on luck?]

“You have nothing else,” he replied.

Pero hindi ko alam kung papano magdasal sa kanya. Ni hindi ko alam kung saan ako titingin, sa langit ba o sa ilalim ng lupa?” [But I don’t know how to pray to Luck, I don’t even know if I should look up to Heaven or down in the direction of Hell.]

We rode in silence after that. And it was killing me. So when we reached Claire De La Fuentes’ parking lot or EDSA when it still functioned as a street, I asked my driver to turn the radio on.

That’s when I heard the anti-gambling crusader, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, calling PNoy “the biggest gambler up to now” for placing the PCSO, along with PAGCOR, under his control.

My buddy smirked at that. “Archbishop Cruz is to gambling what PASG was to smuggling,” he said.

“That’s not fair,” I replied. “The archbishop is determined to stop gambling.”

“Oh, really?” he shot back. “Then how come he tells couples to rely on the rhythm method instead of condoms and pills. That’s encouraging high stakes gambling, isn’t it?”

“That’s different,” I replied.

My driver, normally a man who goes about his own business, suddenly interjected, “Sir, I think Archbishop Cruz is confused and myopic.”

“What?” I exclaimed.

Opo sir, he has no vision.”

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“If he had vision then he would see that condoms are the solution to the problem of gambling.”

“What do condoms have to do with gambling?”

“Well sir,” he replied, “if couples used condoms and pills then there will be less children who will grow and become gamblers.”