Jadrien L. Lotoc’s name was picked out of hundreds of coupons at the 2019 Liberation Day raffle draw last July 4, making this Kagman resident the grand prize winner of $10,000.
The Liberation Day Planning Committee, led by chair Joe Ayuyu Jr., presented the check to 21-year-old Lotoc and to the other raffle draw winners at the Saipan Mayor’s Office in Susupe yesterday.
“When they were announcing the grand prize winner starting with the ticket number then my name, I literally went still and stared at the stage thinking, ‘Is it really me?’” Lotoc said.
“Like me, family members who were there with me when my name was picked were shocked but, of course, [also] happy,” he added.
Lotoc plans to save the amount, with an eye at investing it on a type of investment “that will be of great help for the future…”
The raffle’s first place with a cash prize of $5,000 went to Jennifer Lizama of Dandan. “I was at home and it was my children who were at the raffle announcement. They called me to say I won,” she said.
At first, she wasn’t too excited because there are a lot of Jennifer Lizamas on island and she wasn’t sure if it was she who won the raffle.
“I wanted to see the numbers to be sure as,” she added. “I checked the number the next day and I said, ‘Oh my, it is really me’ and my initial reaction was, ‘I get to finish my house!’ Our house was all gone after [Super Typhoon] Yutu and what we got initially wasn’t enough. The cash prize will put up all the doors and the windows, so this is a great blessing,” she added.
Other winners were Esterlita Camacho who won twice for second and fifth places, Ricky Itibus for third place and the Liberation Day Planning Committee is still identifying the owner of the number picked for fourth place.
The total amount of funds raised from the sale of raffle tickets was a little over $96,000 and, according to committee chair Joe Ayuyu Jr., the intention of selling tickets was to raise funds to be able to put up this kind of event for the community. “It all goes toward operations—paying for the fireworks, preparing the grounds, the games and overall entertainment ,” he said.
“The Liberation Day Parade raffle prizes is one of the biggest cash prizes on Saipan, so people get excited and it is good because it helps us raise money. …It is a very good incentive for people to buy tickets. … After [Super] Typhoon Yutu, I think we haven’t had a celebration, so this was a very good chance for families to get together have quality time,” Ayuyu added.
Liberation Day Planning Committee vice chair Shayne Villanueva said that a portion of the funds that was raised also gets donated to charity.
“Last year, we donated to the [Saipan] Mayor’s Office’s dog [control] program and to two other entities as well. That is our plan for this year. We identify charities that need help and we usually vote and we give them a certain percentage of the total,” he added.
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang was not expecting many people to come out and join the Liberation Day festivities, especially after Super Typhoon Yutu. “But people showed up in high spirits and it shows resiliency. …The community was one again. We also had the participation and help of businesses and many volunteers to make the celebration a success,” he said.
The 2019 Liberation Day parade float competition winners were also presented with their prizes yesterday. First place went to the TanHoldings company, with a cash prize of $3,000. Second place went to the United Filipino Organizations, the umbrella organization of Filipino groups in the CNMI, with a cash prize of $2,000. Third place went to private citizen Eusebio Borja, with a cash prize of $1,000, for his karetan guaka (bull cart) that was being pulled by a cow at the parade, and fourth place went to the CNMI Carolinian Affairs Office with a cash prize of $500. This year’s parade theme was “Marianas Strong,” underscoring the CNMI’s resiliency in the wake of Yutu, which hit the CNMI in October 2018.