NAT  Helen Capulong Simbulan-1592391422478
Helen Capulong Simbulan Image Credit: Angel Tesorero, Gulf News

Dubai: There has been no grand prize winner yet at Emirates Loto but two Filipinas felt that they had already hit the jackpot. One won a second-tier prize to help finish constructing her dream house and the other received a generous donation for her charity project.

Helen Capulong Simbulan, 42, was one of the 10 lucky UAE residents who shared the Dh1 million second-tier prize early this month. They matched five out of six numbers in Emirates Loto’s eighth draw and each got Dh100,000.

Speaking to Gulf News a week after receiving the prize, Helen, who works at a fast food chain, said the money came at the right time.

Two Filipinas feel like they've won the jackpot Irish Eden Belleza, Videographer, Angel Tesorero, Reporter

She said: “I thought I would never be able to finish the construction of my house in the Philippines. Because of the (coronavirus) pandemic, I was afraid I could lose my job and source of income anytime.

“But then came the happy news. I was so excited and emotional after receiving the prize from Emirates Loto. First, I sent some money to my sisters back home and then I set aside a big portion to finish building my dream house,” added Helen, a single mother with three children aged 23, 22 and 11 years old.

Helen’s house in Pampanga, a province in Central Luzon, north of Manila, is now on its final construction stage. She said it would be the culmination of her 15 years of diligent work in Dubai’s F&B industry.

Helen said she would still continue to work. “I’m still young and strong. But I’m still wary of the impact of coronavirus to the world economy. Whatever happens, however, I can rest assured that I will have a house of my own and a comfortable dwelling I can retire in my senior years,” she added.

Prize for doing charity

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Feby Dela Pena receives a donation Image Credit: Angel Tesorero, Gulf News

Another winner in her own right is Feby Cachero Baguisa-Dela Peña. She did not buy an Emirates Loto ticket but she received a handsome prize because of her charity work.

A long-time Dubai resident living in Deira, Feby, 34 and a mother of three, is hailed as a local hero for giving free meals during the pandemic.

Although unemployed and with only meagre resources, Feby, with help from family, friends and generous individuals, has served over 7,000 hot meals to expats of various nationalities since Eid.

She cooks two popular Filipino dishes – chicken afritada and chicken adobo – and prepares at least 400 meals daily.

On June 13, in recognition of her charity work and as part of the celebration of the Philippine Independence Day, she received a donation from Emirates Loto equivalent to 10,000 meals.

“The feeling was really overwhelming,” she told Gulf News. “Thanks to Emirates Loto, my project is extended for another 25 days. And now, I don’t need to go to the supermarket because they would supply me with everything I need – from chicken to eggs and condiments,” she added.

Act of kindness

“Feby is a role model,” said Emirates Loto CEO Paul Sebestyen, adding: “Her generous act of kindness is now a source of inspiration for many across the globe.”

“We knew that we had to support her initiative. She truly represents the best of us. We salute Feby for her altruism, sense of community, and changing the lives of those in need,” he added.