MANILA, Philippines - For three months, Dionie Reyes (DR) - winner of P14,125,032 in the Lotto 6/42 draw on April 22, 2008 - lived the life of a millionaire, something he had been longing to experience.
He lived in a P4-million house in a posh subdivision, drove around in a sports utility vehicle (SUV), and gave goodwill money, ranging P1,000 to P 850,000, to relatives and friends. He also gambled daily, womanized, and went on regular drinking sprees.
In an exclusive interview, DR told the Manila Bulletin that he did not regret throwing all the money away, because it was his, he enjoyed it to the hilt, and he did not take it from anybody else.
"I won it from a lotto game of PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office)," DR said.
"It was my money. I spent my P14 million in three months," he admits.
But in the end, he felt sorry for his unbridled spending spree.
From being an instant millionaire, DR now owes some people about P500,000.
And to underscore his current state of living, DR underwent a heart surgery at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) last September without any cash on hand. And he had to thank the PCSO management for helping him pay for the cost of operation of about P500,000, more or less.
Nearly four years after his lucky streak, the married native of Las Piñas, now 47, with an 11-years-old adopted son, said he wants to tell his story so others who may strike gold, or already did, with the lotto games may learn a lesson or two from his experience.
When this pen pusher, rather Blackberry user, told him his name will not be mentioned to shield him from any uninvited or unintended consequences of his coming out in public, he won't have it that way.
"If you are not going to mention my name, then there is no use telling my story. Readers may not believe your article. You may even use my photograph," he insists.
"After all, I have nothing to fear. That was about four years ago already. I had spent all my winnings. Nothing is left, except my house and the things I gave my relatives, office mates, friends, and acquaintances," he says.
DR recalled that before his mother Paz died at 71 in 2004, she used to tell him that she had been praying for him to win in the lotto play.
"Anak, ipinagdarasal ko na manalo ka na ng lotto para makatikim naman tayo ng ginhawa (Son, I have been praying that you win in the lotto so we can have a better life)," DR recalls his mother telling him.
DR proudly said that being the youngest of his six siblings made him the favorite of his mother. He has five sisters and a brother.
About four years after his mother's demise, DR finally hit the jackpot, using a Lucky Pick, System 7 bet worth P70. A System 7 bet has seven combinations.
"It was a Tuesday when I hit the jackpot. My boss announced that a lotto machine gave out the winning numbers for 6/42, Lucky Pick, and System 7," relates DR.
"I had all the three categories. So, I silently hoped that I am the winner," says DR. He did not check his ticket yet.
Wednesday evening, after work, like in many other days before, DR went on another drinking session.
He still did not check his lotto ticket in his wallet, which by then was already drenched with his own urine because of too much drinking.
Friday, at lunch time, while eating with an office mate, DR took out his smelly wallet and got the 6/42 ticket. He had memorized the winning combination, 09-15-18-23-28-40, which had at stake P14,125,032.
"Uy, I got three... four... five numbers," DR exclaims, as excitement overwhelmed him. He said he no longer mentioned he got all the six drawn numbers. He just nudged his officemate, who got the message.
"At 1 p.m., accompanied by my boss, I had my winning ticket validated at the PCSO's Internal Audit Department. The lotto machine did not accept it at first because of urine smudge. So, the validation was done manually, entering into the lotto machine the security numbers in the ticket," recounts DR.
The PCSO validation machine confirmed DR won the more than P14-million jackpot.
"After about an hour, I got the check and I went to the bank, still with my boss," he said.
"Lahat tayo may pangarap. Gusto ko talaga magkaroon ng kotse, magandang bahay, at makahawak ng malaking pera. Kaya sinabi ko sa bangko bigyan ako ng isang milyon na cash at tulungan ako makabili ng Toyota Fortuner na usong-uson noon," he recalls with fondness.
He said he was adamant he wanted to go home driving his new car, and a million-peso cash with him. The bank made sure he got them. It was already evening when he got his shiny Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).
Later, DR also bought a P4-million house and lot at BF Homes in Las Piñas.
Out of his winnings, he gave his six siblings P50,000 each; another P500,000 to one of his nephews for a three-door apartment he wanted to build; and from R1,000 to R30,000 to some of his office mates; and R100,000 to his boss.
He gifted a nephew of his wife with a car worth P850,000, a Mitsubishi Fuzion. DR now hitches a ride with him every time he goes to work.
For a month, he did not go home to Cavite where he lived at the time he won. He stayed with a sister-in-law in Parañaque City.
When he finally showed up in Cavite, he gave away from P5,000 to P50,000 to some friends and neighbors.
DR estimated he gave away about P2 million or more for "balato" to relatives, friends, neighbors, and office mates, not counting people he did not know who came to him to borrow money.
"I just gave them and told them not to pay me back," he says.
Just over a year later, he sold his car and then his house at BF Homes. He bought another house also in Las Piñas worth P1.7 million. He now wants to sell the house to pay off debts.
DR narrated that the rest of his money, about P10 million, was gone in only three months.
"I spent all my money through daily gambling, especially cockfighting, drinking sprees nightly, and womanizing. Almost every day, I lost a minimum of P100,000 in cockfighting. It was very quick, I had an especial ATM (automated teller machine) card issued by my bank," DR says.
"Every time I came home, my wife just cried and cried. She asked me many times to stop. I did not listen. My siblings also asked me to change ways and have a new life," he recalls.
"I did not listen to any of them. It was my money, anyway. I won it fairly not at the expense of others," DR maintains.