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Meet Rommel Arellano, the haha-happiest Pinoy

And the Happiest Pinoy 2012 is …: Rommel Arellano is flanked by PJ Lhuillier  Group (Cebuana Lhuillier) VP Andre D. Lhuillier, Mrs. Philippe J. Lhuillier (partly hidden), his wife and parents,  and president/CEO Jean Henri D. Lhuillier.

The happiest people in the world are those who love  making people they meet along the highway of life … happy and positive!

Last September 12, Jonathan Batangan of Cebuana Lhuiller invited me to the 3rd Happiest Pinoy awards night at Makati Shangri-La, where I was given a special award  for being a pioneering spirit in establishing the first Laughter Yoga club  in our country. For spreading happiness among thousands of our kababayans and helping them become positive and healthy — through the sessions I conducted with various companies and organizations. For providing water and sanitation projects to our public school children, which benefited 27,480 students, and teaching them to become  happy  and mentally alert to enjoy their schooling.

As I was supposed to be in Seoul that day, I rearranged my schedule for that momentous event, which turned out to be a night of learning, motivation, and inspiration from the 10 Happiest Pinoy nominees. They made me realize even more  that, indeed,  so much needs  to be done in our beloved country.  That countless ways can be undertaken — individually and collectively —  to reach out and make a positive  influence  among our kababayans.  To remain humble and grateful  for  blessings received.  To plant the seeds of talents and abilities God magnanimously gifted us  with, to bear fruits and be more productive by sharing with others.  To get out of our personal  and family box to improve the lot of others, and to leave positive footprints on the sand of life.

The organizers received 13,000 nominations, which were shortlisted to 25, and finally trimmed down to the magic 10 nominees. Video clips and  testimonies  on the lives of the 10 nominees were shown on the screen.  Rommel E. Arellano’s life story was the most heartwrenching, touching, and inspiring.  It tugged at the hearts and touched the minds of the people who viewed it.  I shed tears of great admiration as Rommel narrated his life, and prayed he be chosen as the Happiest Pinoy!

Who would not?   Rommel crawls around with his hands, using slippers for support as his legs were amputated at a very young and tender age of one,   due to polio.  Due to extreme poverty, unfortunately, he failed to get the proper medical treatment.   Rommel was shown going up a ladder using his palms as leverage and then hauling his whole body upward.  He also recalled getting muddied during rainy days when he went to school as he passed by a river and rice field. Despite such a physical condition, his indomitable spirit and unflinching determination made him not feel different from others — though he  gets hurt mentally and emotionally many times.  Discrimination and insults have become normal for Rommel, but he has learned to shrug them off.  Asked how he could still smile under such condition, he said he was happy to be alive and   accomplish things despite his physical limitations 

Happiness was Rommel’s constant companion in his uphill and difficult journey. He said,  “The power to overcome any obstacles, hardships or trials is simply facing them with a happy heart.  And from a happy heart you can draw strength and resilience. If you face the world with a smile, the world will smile back to you.”

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The happily approving guests exploded in thunderous applause when Rommel was announced as the Happiest Filipino!  Tagged as “the man behind the walking tsinelas” (slippers), he most deserved the award.   Despite his physical limitations, the hardships, poverty, and deprivation, he maintained a happy disposition, and still helped others.

 Rommel currently works as an MSWD counselor in Bataan, providing guidance and counseling for abused, battered, disabled people and others  needing his help.  He ended  his speech, thus, “In my life’s journey, I often stumble and fall.  Getting up is never an issue for me.  What matters the most is I will continue my journey happily even if I have to crawl.  If my purpose in this world is to inspire someone in my humble ways, so be it.  If I would be a channel of blessing to someone who loses hope, so be it.  For these are the things that I am grateful for; these are the reasons that make me happy.”

Cebuana Lhuillier,  through the nationwide search for the Happiest Pinoy,  “hopes to further redefine happiness as “a result of rising  above personal challenges to serve others or achieve more — and in so doing, he becomes greater than himself.”  It is Cebuana Lhuillier’s humble tribute to the greatness of the Filipino spirit. 

For my part, I share my special award with the people who make it possible for me to continue my legacy of Laughter Yoga — my loving family, my supportive Philippine STAR family, my long-time devoted staff, who’s with me every step of the way.  And with the legion  of LYoga enthusiasts.

Being Teachers’ Month, I would like to mention Concepcion T. Tababa, a non-formal education teacher and one of the 10 nominees.  Teachers have a soft spot in my heart  because  I had dreamt of being a teacher,   to help mold the minds of our youth, our hope and future. Tababa has been a teacher for 28 years in Tubungan, Iloilo — hiking across mountains, crossing rivers, and walking along rugged dirt roads that stretched from 18 to 23 kilometers to reach her students, mostly farmers.  Such is her passion and dedication to spread knowledge, which she does happily.

May we all be inspired to serve our people..  Doing good deeds for others, genuinely and humbly,  giving pure joy and meaning to life!

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E-mail me at laughteryogaclub.phils@gmail.com.  Visit www.laughteryogaphils.com for more info. To laugh, visit youtube:  lycphohohahaha.

 

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