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'Happiness is rejoicing despite suffering'

Winston Maxino

MANILA, Philippines - How can one be happy living in constant pain because of an incurable disease and with a daughter with Down’s Syndrome?

For 47-year-old Winston Maxino, who was chosen as the Happiest Pinoy by the country’s largest pawnshop chain Cebuana Lhuillier, “Life is not about what we have been suffering… but how suffering transforms us into better and happier human beings.”

Winston was diagnosed 10 years ago with Ankylosing spondylitis or chronic, inflammatory arthritis, a degenerative bone condition that requires him to take pain relievers every day and quarterly treatment of Remicade infusions to help him cope.

The diagnosis was hard to take as his second child Brina, who was born with Down’s Syndrome, was only four years old and needed regular physical, speech and occupational therapies.

But Winston has chosen to manage his sickness and to empower not just his daughter but also all Down’s Syndrome kids through his many contributions to the Down Syndrome Association.

“My daughter Brina always says I love my life and I love my future… and I found out that she was right: happiness is about loving your life and loving your future,” Winston said when he received his award at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City last Wednesday.

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“A positive outlook gets us through the most trying times,” he said.

“Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter is free. Laughter does not require a doctor’s prescription. It is internally generated therefore it does not run out of stock,” he added.

Winston was the first recipient of the Happiest Pinoy award given by the Cebuana Lhuillier Insurance Solutions (CLIS). He received a cash prize of P200,000 and a plaque.

“If there is a special prize that I have earned tonight, it is the insight that I have gained about happiness,” Winston said. “Happiness is rejoicing despite suffering.”

Jonathan Batangan, CLIS general manager, said the search for the Happiest Pinoy was aimed at rekindling optimism, resilience and hope in the Filipino nation.

The nationwide search, which got 218 nominees, looked for Filipinos with an optimistic outlook in life, a cheerful disposition, the ability to rise above life’s challenges and a positive impact in the lives of others.

Six finalists were also awarded: Nona Andaya-Castillo, 47, teacher; Rex Bernardo, 39, academician; Gerardo Gamez, 44, salesman; Celestino Habito, 90, retired professor; Carolina Reyes, 78, a housewife and lecturer; and Maria Kathrina Lopez-Yarza, 26, artist and entrepreneur.

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