2009 - 2010 Search for the Happiest Pinoy

The Search for the Happiest Pinoy was first launched in 2009 led by Cebuana Lhuillier’s microinsurance arm—Cebuana Lhuillier Insurance Solutions (CLIS).

Through the search, CLIS aims to highlight the benefits of obtaining insurance to ultimately achieve happiness.
On its pilot run, the Search for the Happiest Pinoy received over 200 nominations from its nationwide roll out.

Winston Maxino, a corporate executive who was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis—a degenerative and incurable bone disease—was conferred the first Happiest Pinoy title at the awarding ceremony on February 17, 2010.

The 2009 - 2010 Search for the Happiest Pinoy top seven finalists also included:

  • Rex A. Bernardo – afflicted with polio at the age of 5 but was able to pursue post-graduate studies at the Trinity University of Asia, University of Sydney and Asian Institute of Management and later became an academician
  • Nona David Andaya-Castillo – a teacher and consultant who helped propelled breastfeeding movement in the Philippines
  • Gerardo Gamez – amputated at age 14 but became a successful salesman of First Concepts Products, his own enterprising company
  • Celestino Habito – self-supported his education through obtaining Fulbright Schmidt Mundt Program and Rockefeller Foundation scholarships and later became a respected professor
  • Carolina Reyes – a housewife diagnosed with malignant breast cancer but travelled around the country to lecture on topics such as Values Education and Family Life

  • Maria Kathrina Yarza – an artist and entrepreneur diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 causing her difficulty to swallow, hear, and see, and paralyzed her body’s left extremities but uses the Internet to get paid by a US Company and establish a fund-raising project, Help My Ear Hear

2011 - 2012 Search for the Happiest Pinoy

After the success of its pilot run, Cebuana Lhuillier, through CLIS, conducted a second streak of the Search for the Happiest Pinoy in 2011 - 2012.

The search received an overwhelming nominations of over 13, 000 from Filipino hopefuls all over the country.
CLIS has also partnered with the Department of Education who simultaneously run its Wear a Smile Campaign, urging everyone in campus to smile to start the school year in high spirits.

Rommel Arellano, an employee from Bataan who was afflicted with polio at childhood, bested nine other finalists for the 2012 Search for the Happiest Pinoy.

Its top ten finalists also included:

  • Arnel Alipao – a student from Surigao del Norte who lost and was ridiculed when he ran for SK Chair position yet kept his passion to serve by becoming the Philippine representative at the United Nations General Assembly on the Thematic Debate on Disaster Risk Reduction in New York, USA.
  • Gilda Fortuanata Altez – a single parent from Manila who advocates for the restoration of broken marriages, families and homes and for improving relationships through her own online free counselling.
  • Connie Emborong – a student leader that became a peace coordinator who promoted happy co-existence between Muslims and Christians in Lanao del Norte.
  • Marcelo Otinguey – a working student at age 12 yet still became a teacher who initiated literacy and cultural campaigns and organized donation drives for indigent communities in Benguet.
  • John Gabirel Pelias - proved that poverty is not an obstacle to achieve and excel by becoming a Summa cum laude graduate of the University of the Phillipines in Diliman.
  • Gerald Raymundo – had spinal cord injury which left him permanently disabled, suffered renal failure, and Steven Johnson Syndrome but became a motivational speaker and lecturer on livelihood and leadership for the physically-challenged.
  • Concepcion Tababa – an Alternative Learning System coordinator from Iloilo who travelled to far-flung villages and introduced the BAOL (Barangay Aid on Literacy) program or community mobile library.
  • Rebecca Tiu Sonco – a National “Ulirang Ina” Award recipient from Eastern Samar who took care of her husband who was in coma for 14 years, espoused environmental causes, women empowerment, and initiated support system projects for victims of calamities.
  • Leonardo Villanueva – a utility worker from Malabon City who was afflicted with asthma but is always admired for his kindness, diligence, and sunny disposition.