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Why Filipinos are the happiest

Emily Abrera (above) is the chairman of the CCP Board of Trustees. Polio victim Rommel Arellano won the search for the Happiest Pinoy in 2012. Lawyer Leny Robredo continues the beliefs and advocacies of her late husband, former Interior Sec. Jesse Robredo.

When we were asked to write a piece on the Happiest Pinoys for this section, we were at a loss on how to write it. Who would be our expert guide on happiness? Someone suggested Cebuana Lhuillier which we knew to be the best pawnshop there is. But what would happiness have to do with the pawnshop business? We decided, nevertheless, to go to the website of Cebuana Lhuillier and guess what we found?

There was, indeed, a site from Cebuana Lhuillier announcing a competition in search of the Happiest Pinoy. First launched in 2009, it aimed to highlight the many benefits of obtaining insurance as a means of ultimately achieving happiness. On its first run, the search garnered over 200 nominations nationwide. Winston Maxino, a corporate executive diagnosed with a degenerative and incurable bone disease, was named the first Happiest Pinoy in awarding ceremonies on Feb. 17, 2010.

After the success of its pilot run, Cebuana Lhuillier conducted a second edition of search for the Happiest Pinoy from 2011 to 2012. This received overwhelming nominations from Filipino hopefuls all over the country. Rommel Arellano, an employee from Bataan afflicted with polio from childhood, bested nine other finalists in 2012. Come January 2013, the second edition of Happiest Pinoy received a Bronze Award for Brand Marketing, and on November 2013, it was announced that Happiest Pinoy 2012 had received recognition of two Merit Awards from the Philippine Quill for Advocacy Communication category and the Special Events-External category.

The search for the Happiest Pinoy is a nationwide campaign of Cebuana Lhuillier that aims to rekindle the values of optimism, resilience and hope in Filipinos amidst different life crises. Cebuana Lhuillier highlights the positive things that come from obtaining quality and affordable micro-financial security, which is peace of mind and ultimately, happiness. The search for the Happiest Pinoy was led by Cebuana Lhuillier’s micro-insurance arm and Cebuana Lhuillier Insurance Solutions (CLIS). Among its conditions for acceptance apart from being Filipino is a positive outlook in life, a positive impact on the lives of others and a proven ability to rise above life’s challenges.

Recognizing the impact and influence of social media to Filipinos nowadays, Cebuana Lhuillier has selected social media personalities to be ambassadors who would help spread the advocacy on social media. They will also be a part of the initial committee that will screen the entries and shortlist the Top 20 nominees from the pool of entries.

The prizes awaiting the winners started at P200,000 in 2010, was increased to P250,000 in 2012 and is now P1M in cash, tax free.

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The ambassadors are familiar names to all and they include RJ Ledesma, editor-in-chief of UNO Magazine and author of five best-selling books; lawyer Leny Robredo, widow of former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo; Efren Peñaflorida, teacher/social worker who was named 2009 CNN Hero of the Year for his Kariton Klasrum project; Francis Kong, founding member and director of Inspire Leadership Consultancy, president of Success Options Publishing Company, and FunWorks, Inc.; Luchi Cruz-Valdez, respected Filipino broadcast journalist, head of the News and Public Affairs Department of TV5; Emily Abrera, current chairman of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Board of Trustees; lawyer Anne Corominas, member of the International Criminal Court and of the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research; Jonathan Batangan, current general manager of Cebuana Lhuillier’s insurance arm; Winston Maxino, a corporate executive who has risen above various diseases to now serve as chief operating officer of Hooven Philippines and general manager of Green Earth Power and Energy Corp.

After listening to this litany of accomplishments from 2009 to the present, only then did we understand the connection between a company that ran the best pawnshop in the country and that of one aiming to be the best advocate of happiness.

(E-mail your comments to bibsyfotos@yahoo.com or text me at 0917-8991835.)

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