Christmas came early for a former United Filipino Organization officer who went home $150 richer last Dec. 15 after joining Deal or No Deal, the highlight of UFO's Paskong Pinoy 2012 at the Garapan Fishing Base.
Mylene Macapagal bought $5 worth of raffle tickets, two of which were called out for a chance to be a contestant in the game hosted by Ulysses Sabuco. She and another friend joined the elimination round that asked 50 contestants trivia questions relating to Christmas.
Macapagal, who works as a cashier at ABCD Market, bested other contenders to advance to the final round. For her briefcase, Macapagal chose No. 25 or Christmas Day, as she explained on stage.
But Macapagal's stroke of luck ended early after opening the first briefcase, No. 3, which contained the grand prize of $2,000 and was succeeded by other large amounts in the game's money board.
Macapagal found out that it was a smart move to take the banker's offer of $150, when she was down to her last two briefcases, her chosen No. 25 which contained the elusive $1, and No. 19 which had $300.
A worker on Saipan for 18 years, Macapagal said after the game that she was very happy with the outcome even though she did not win the coveted $2,000 grand prize.
“I only paid $5 for my tickets and I went home with $150. It's still a great deal,” she told Saipan Tribune.
Macapagal said she will donate a portion of her prize money to UFO, where she served during former president Olive Yana's tenure, while the rest will be spent to treat her husband Arnold Castro who couldn't join her at the event as he had to look after their apartment.
“Thank you so much to UFO for bringing this kind of fun event for the Saipan community,” she added.
Over a thousand spectators gathered at the venue throughout late afternoon until night time to enjoy the festivities that featured 14 food booths, 11 non-food vendors, live entertainment, and other contests.
Koblerville Elementary School's Umang Glee Club emerged first place and won $200 in the choral singing contest after receiving 95 points from the judges. Marianas High School came second with 89 points and won $100. Winning third place is the Cornerstone choir, which garnered 71 points and won $50.
For the lantern contest, Ruel Nava bagged first and third places and won $100 and $50, respectively. Second place went to Rachel Bastarahe who took home $75.
Other contests had to be cancelled due to lack of time as the UFO's annual signature Christmas event started later than scheduled, group officials said after the event.
“We're so blessed that it didn't rain. We're really happy about the turnout and we want to thank our sponsors and donors and the entire community for making the event another success,” said UFO secretary Annamae Adaza.
For outgoing president Bong Malasarte, the event went smoothly and without incidents, thanks to the support of other officers, members, and volunteers who ensured that the crowd was entertained and had an enjoyable time.
“There were other events going on but the public still found time to visit Paskong Pinoy. We were exhausted and worn out from all the preparations but it was all worth it,” he said.
Malasarte thanked major sponsor Docomo Pacific and their newest sponsor, LBC, for making the event possible.
“We greet all Filipinos and the rest of the CNMI a merry and peaceful Christmas. I know that these are challenging times for everyone but let us pray and remain positive. Continue to work hard and believe that things will eventually get better,” he added.
UFO also concluded its fund drive for the victims of Super Typhoon Pablo in the Philippines. Malasarte said the donations will be accounted for and handed over to the Philippine Red Cross in coming days.