Clasping her hands together, Erlinda Fabricante Arriola glanced at the two remaining briefcases-Nos. 18 and 14-then looked at the crowd below the stage, all roaring wildly as they egged “Ate Linda” to choose their favored briefcase.
The visibly jittery and undecided Kagman resident was down to the last two briefcases and all she had to do was choose which briefcase she thinks has the lower amount inside, leaving behind the one that she thinks contains the highest amount.
After a few more seconds of painful internal struggle, Erlinda finally settled on briefcase No. 18-a decision that she would regret.
When the briefcase lady opened No. 18 to reveal $1,000, Erlinda shrieked with disappointment, along with the hundreds of spectators of the Deal or No Deal game, the highlight of the recently concluded 2012 Pistang Pinoy, the annual event hosted by the United Filipino Organization.
A retired teacher at San Vicente Elementary School, Erlinda was the only contestant in the first ever staging of the contest tailored after a popular television U.S. game show.
It was a complete casting for the Deal or No Deal, Saipan-style-with the 24 ladies clutching their respective briefcases bearing dollar amounts, an enthusiastic contestant, an engaging host in the person of Ulysses Sabuco, and a top-secret banker.
“I wasn't too familiar with the show because I don't watch it on television,” Erlinda told Saipan Tribune after the exciting game held at the Civic Center Beach Park in Susupe.
With the highest amount gone, all that's left to be opened was briefcase No. 14 and Erlinda's briefcase No. 13.
Only two amounts remained: $125 and $30. Erlinda's upsetting choice of the briefcase bearing $1,000 convinced her to ditch her own briefcase and take the banker's offer of $77. Erlinda didn't know that her briefcase actually contained the higher amount.
“I decided to take the deal since the $1,000 was already gone. But all in all, it was a great game and I enjoyed it very much although it was really nerve-wracking. The entire time, I don't know which briefcase to choose,” Erlinda said.
Erlinda's edginess and unfamiliarity with the game even prompted her to ask the host from time to time if she could just up and leave and just take the banker's deal. Several times throughout the show, when she opened a briefcase containing a small amount, Erlinda was seen grooving to upbeat music.
“That was my way to shake off nerves. Believe me, it helped a lot,” Erlinda remarked, laughing.
A fairly new member of the Saipan Lions Club, Erlinda revealed that it was her first time at the Pistang Pinoy and that she actually bought 40 tickets in support of her Lions friends who are also affiliated with UFO.
Erlinda took part in the Pistang Pinoy festivities with her son, Greg, who is a probation officer at the federal court.
When asked why she chose briefcase no. 13, Erlinda explained, “When I went up the stage and I gazed at the ladies, that number stood out from the rest of the briefcases.”
Despite not bringing home the coveted $1,000 grand prize, Erlinda said she will still go home very much content. She took home a $50 gift certificate from D&Q, a healthy lunch buffet for two at the Chambre Bar, oral cleaning from Smile Marianas, a one-night stay in a deluxe room at Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, and the grand prize of a Samsung Galaxy Y from Docomo Pacific.
“I even got more than my tickets' worth so I'll definitely buy tickets again next year,” she said.
UFO president Bong Malasarte expressed his appreciation for the “overwhelming support” of the community in the first staging of the Deal or No Deal game.
He thanked host Sabuco and the 24 young ladies who contributed in the success of Deal or No Deal and their parents who allowed them to participate, their choreographers Joel Vallega and Ernie Molina, Ester Sablan for providing the studio for the girls' rehearsals, Jester for the Deal or No Deal soundtrack, and all other volunteers.
“With the success of Deal or No Deal, we are looking at having it regularly in Pistang Pinoy,” added Malasarte.