Maria Racquel Manalo, a 49-year-old owner of a fish stand in Oleai, lived up to her name by winning the grand prize in Saturday night’s 2013 Las Vegas Night at Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan.
Manalo’s ticket number “0597” was picked by Rotary Club of Saipan president Laila Y. Boyer as the top winner of the organization’s signature fundraising event of the year.
Manalo, which literally means “to win” in Tagalog, can choose either $10,000 in cash or a spanking new 2014 Toyota Yaris.
The part-owner of Day Star Fish Store, located along Beach Road beside Hukobotan, was not present during the raffle drawing attended by close to 1,200 community members at the Hibiscus Hall.
Matt Smith, meanwhile, took home the first place prize of $3,000, while Belen Nunez and Gilbert Morales won the $2,000 and $1,000 second and third place prizes, respectively. Trinidad Camacho got the $500 consolation prize.
Record-breaking Las Vegas Night
Manalo, who is currently in the Philippines in her native Imus, Cavite, to attend a church seminar, was not the only big winner last Saturday night as the local Rotary Club also enjoyed its most successful Las Vegas Night to date.
Boyer said their initial printing of 8,000 tickets was sold out and they had to print an additional 1,000 tickets.
That still proved insufficient as people were still clamoring for tickets as they arrived fashionably late Saturday night.
Las Vegas Night used two venues at the Fiesta Resort: craps, Black Jack, roulette, and Texas Hold’Em Poker were held at the Hibiscus Hall, while Bingo hosted by Ben Babauta used the adjacent Azucena Hall.
“We’re so happy. Tonight was such a great success. We’ve never seen so many people come out and help. We reached all our goals and we’re very happy and we’re excited to do the groundbreaking for the Kagman Children’s Park in two weeks,” Boyer said.
Proceeds from the 2013 Las Vegas Night will help fund the construction of the children’s park, the groundbreaking of which will be graced by Rotary Club district governor Isako Funaki on Nov. 7, 2013.
In the costume contest, Saipan Southern High School continued its string of good luck this weekend as Manta Ray teacher Joleen Sablan’s sultry ringmaster number bested two equally deserving “zombies.”
Sablan, who won $200, got the crowd’s attention with her provocative and sexy moves on stage that gave her the loudest applause.
Down payment for pickup truck
Saipan Tribune managed to contact Manalo in the Philippines yesterday and she said she would opt for the cash prize of $10,000 (minus 20-percent tax) to make a down payment for a new pickup truck for her fledgling business.
Manalo said that before leaving for the Philippines, she jokingly told her staff not to scratch the new car she will be winning at Las Vegas Night.
She said it was also the first time since coming to Saipan 28 years ago that she bought tickets to Las Vegas Night.
Manalo said she bought $100 worth of tickets from Rotary Club member Marcia Ayuyu, who she said is a loyal customer.
“It’s truly a blessing from God. I want to thank the Rotary Club, especially to Marcia Ayuyu. I also want to thank my staff and I will surely treat them went I come back home,” she said.
Manalo, who first came on Saipan in 1985, is part-owner of Day Star Fish Store, which is turning seven years old this year.