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Filipino Librarian Wins 165K on
"Kapamilya Deal or No Deal"

Kris Aquino with, from left: me, my mom and ninang.
Behind are Cathy Ravelo, Norma Balderrama and
Ochie Laraya (partly hidden). The button on
my shirt reads: "Love Your Librarian" =)

Yes, I won 165,000 pesos (about US$3,500) on "Kapamilya Deal or No Deal" (KDOND) on 29 January 2009. Strictly speaking, I won the money on 20 January 2009—because that's when the episode was taped—but if no one hears a tree fall in the forest, did the tree make a sound? I will, however, let some other blogger ponder the power of media, and focus instead on answering the questions that I've already been asked and will be asked in the days to come. By the way, I will be writing a separate post on how I came to be a player on KDOND, so please don't ask that question here =)

What will I do with the money?

Before I give my beauty-pageant-worthy answer, please note that the prize money is not tax free, that 165,000 pesos less 20 percent is 132,000 pesos. Also, it will take some time before I get the check because accounting departments everywhere have schedules to follow =) Having said that, anyone who wishes to ask for "balato" (there is no direct translation of this Tagalog word, but it's what prize winners give to their friends) needs to keep in mind that I am giving most of the money away, which I stated in the VTR at the beginning of the show.

Once I get the check, the majority of the funds—but not all, contrary to the impression made at the end of the show—will be allocated to the oncology ward at Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), for reasons that will be made clear in my answer to the next question. Some of the prize money will be given to the fund established for the treatment of a friend, the construction of the new UP School of Library and Information Studies building, and Compassion International. Whatever remains will be used to provide tokens of appreciation to my family, relatives and friends who took time from their busy schedules to join me not only during the taping, but also during the long hours of waiting on taping day and the mock game. If there's still some money left, I'll see if I can buy a KDOND souvenir that can serve as a reminder of my 15 fleeting minutes of "fame."

Why did I join KDOND? Why not Game KNB?

The only reason I joined KDOND is that my mom asked me. She is a Kris Aquino fan and cancer survivor, who obtained much of her treatment at VMMC. I'm not the most obedient of sons, but I reasoned that she hardly ever asks for anything and, with so many Filipinos wanting to be on the show, I probably wouldn't make it anyway. So I went through the process without telling my mom... and made it! You'll have to wait for my next post to find out more about the process and why I think I made it. But because I joined the show so my mom could meet Kris, I thought it might be more appropriate to donate the money to a cause my mom believed in. Hence, the donation to VMMC's oncology ward, for which my parents have raised money in the past. This, however, does not mean I'm so rich I don't need the money. My family and I have benefited from the generosity of others at various points in our lives, so I thought it would be good to start paying it forward, particularly because the prize money is practically manna from heaven.

While I appreciate the reasoning of those who ask why I didn't join a show like Game KNB where I could use—or show off?—my so-called brains, the truth is that my mom likes Edu Manzano, but not as much as she likes Kris Aquino. And, to repeat, my mom's the only reason I did it. Even my desire to counter the prevailing librarian stereotype would not have been enough to convince me to join the show. The most amazing thing was that even at the end, it was still all about my mom. Everyone else wanted me to make a deal for 100,000 pesos, but she wanted to continue, so I did not make the deal and Banker ended up increasing his offer. When Kris said that the final offer was for my mom, she wasn't just mouthing lines because, based on shows I've seen, Banker would have made a much lower offer if my mom weren't in the picture.

Who were the people with me?

The photo above was taken backstage while we were waiting for the taping to begin. From top left: Dennis Baldoria (friend), Sonny Sanchez (cousin), Cathy Ravelo (cousin), Baby Ravelo (ninang), Norma Balderrama (helper). Middle row, from left: Tony Liam (friend), Vanny Bicomong (friend), Vera Totanes (sister). From bottom left: Flor Totanes (my mom), Bea Totanes (niece), me, Aya Laraya (friend), Ochie Laraya (friend), Ver Totanes (my dad). Zarah Gagatiga (friend) is in the foreground.

Some notes: Norma has been with our family since 1979, so I thought it would be good to bring her with us. Vanny had to leave just a little before our taping so she wasn't on the show. Bea wasn't on the show, either, because kids aren't allowed in the studio. Aya was my classmate from Grade 4 to 4th year college! Ochie is Aya's wife. And Zarah, of course, is a librarian and blogger =)

Dennis, Tony, Aya, Ochie and Zarah were also at the mock game, along with Verchie (brother), who couldn't make it to the actual taping. Incidentally, it was mentioned on the show that my brother used to work with James Yap—Kris's husband—as part of his job handling marketing promotions for Purefoods. In case the impression may have been created that Verchie still works for Purefoods, let me emphasize that he "used to work" there, but has returned to being an entrepreneur.

What was the taping like? Is Kris Aquino nice?

The taping took much longer than what was shown. It was taped live, of course, but not everything made it to the final cut. Conversations between Kris and everyone else, including Banker, were much lengthier, and I also took more time to decide whether to make a deal or not. I felt nervous at the beginning, especially because of what can only be generously called a disastrous start. But I started loosening up when the lower amounts started coming out. I don't really dance, but the music just made me feel good enough to try some "moves." I guess it looked natural enough that some made it to the promo for the show =)

Kris was really nice. We weren't like buddies, which is how she has treated some of the women in past shows, but we had some private conversations during the commercial breaks that provided me a glimpse of what must have made her so attractive to the men in her life. And no, I'm not just talking about inner beauty because my first impression when I walked onto the stage, which I didn't get to tell her, was that she looked so sexy in her dress. The camera doesn't quite do justice to her figure. Actually, everyone was very nice. From the producers to the crew to the staff, and especially the guards! They really took care of us, my mom in particular.

By the way, in one of the exchanges I had with a friend on Facebook, I was saying that, as cheesy as it may sound, the whole experience brought my family closer. Dahil sa KDOND, mas naging solid kapamilya—in more ways than one—ang pamilya namin. And this post is, perhaps, the only way I can truly express my thanks to Kris, Banker, the 26k and all the people behind KDOND. Maraming salamat po!

What did my family and friends say about the show?

I started getting comments through phone calls and text messages about my appearance on the show as early as last Sunday. Apparently, a promo that featured some players this week, including me, began running, but I never saw it. Last Wednesday night, the promo for my episode started airing, but it was not until the show began on Thursday that I started getting most of the text and Facebook messages about how telegenic I looked, how much I resembled my dad, how relaxed my mom was, how exciting and/or tense the game turned out to be. Anyway, this is too long already. Let me know what you thought about the show by leaving a comment below. Thanks!

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