Poor housewife is PPUR text promo’s first millionaire

Posted at 11/23/2011 3:50 PM | Updated as of 11/24/2011 10:48 AM
Marites Balagtas (center), a housewife from Bulacan, receives a facsimile of a cheque worth P1 million as prize for winning in the “Pera sa Kweba” text raffle promo for the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) in Palawan.

MANILA, Philippines - A poor housewife from Malolos City, Bulacan couldn't believe her luck when she received a call from a television game show informing her that she won a million pesos in the text raffle promo for the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR).

Marites Balagtas, 38, is the first person to win P1 million in the "Pera sa Kweba" text raffle, which aims to educate the public about PPUR, now included in the provisional list of the world's new seven wonders of nature.

"Hindi po talaga ako agad makapaniwala,” Balagtas said, noting that the windfall couldn't have come at a better time.

Balagtas was recently forced to take her dengue-stricken son home from the hospital due to lack of funds. Her husband, a pedicab driver, has also been sick for several days already.

Just two months ago, her family suffered losses due to heavy flooding caused by Typhoon Pedring.

Asked what she plans to do with her prize money, Balagtas, a mother of three, said she would invest it in her children's education and a small home for her family.

Balagtas was accompanied by her two other kids when she met with members of the Task Force PPUR at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City to claim her prize.

As of November 17, the “Pera sa Kweba” text raffle has given away P10,000 each to 45 daily winners; P100,000 to each of three bi-weekly winners; P250,000 each to two monthly winners; and one P1 million prize. Additionally, 20 winners have each won P50,000 during draws on a television game show.

The contest was initiated by the private sector to promote the PPUR as an eco-tourism site, and to educate the public on why it deserved to be a finalist in the New Seven Wonders of Nature contest.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said the text raffle promo has been extended up to Dec. 30, 2011 to give the public more chances of winning.

At stake in the grand draw is a whopping P25 million, he said. He urged the public to keep on "texting."

“Who knows you might be the next lucky winner like Marites Balagtas, our first millionaire in this campaign," Paje said.

To join “Pera sa Kweba”, text the word PPUR and send to 2861 for all local networks. Each SMS costs P2.50, and entitles the texter one raffle entry. Winning mobile numbers are electronically drawn under the supervision of the Department of Trade and Industry.