For Winston Maxino, happiness is a choice. It is never more evident in the fact that the 51-year-old family man has been spreading joy around with his infectious smile and sunny disposition despite continuously suffering from a rare and extremely painful genetic disorder.
In 2000, Maxino was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an incurable debilitating disease that causes swelling in his spine and constant pain in his lower back.Instead of surrendering to depression and dwelling on the negative impact of his illness, he chose to graciously accept his condition and was determined to carry on with everyday life, with the help of pain relievers and a huge dose of happiness.
“No matter what our circumstances in life, we can choose to be happy. It does not mean we should never feel sadness. It just means we don’t stay sad or wallow in misery. We have to rise above the negativity and do what needs to be done to bring out the best in any situation — we get help and we learn to manage the difficulties,” Maxino said.
Laughter is the best medicine
For the 51-year-old chief operating officer of an aluminum manufacturing company, making children laugh with his balloon knotting talents and magic tricks has become sort of a therapy. “I have always believed in joy from the simple things — giving someone a warm hug, cracking a funny joke and laughing out loud, smiling at people, surprising loved ones with small gifts and telling people you love them.” Being profoundly happy, sharing this unconditionally with other people and having a positive outlook in life despite his painful health condition has earned for Maxino the first Search for the Happiest Pinoy award in 2010 and the grand cash prize of P250,000. “Winning the Search for the Happiest Pinoy in 2010 was not only a prestigious honor for me, it has also enriched my life so much because it has given me more opportunities to reach out to, teach, and learn from a wider variety of people in many parts of the globe,” said Maxino.
The Search for the Happiest Pinoy is a flagship campaign of Cebuana Lhuillier which aims to find and recognize the country’s most optimistic and resilient Filipinos despite life’s challenges in the hopes of inspiring other people to do the same. For this year’s edition, 1M pesos grand prize are up for grabs.
Four years since winning the Happiest Pinoy crown, Maxino is still in the habit of inspiring people and making them happy. “My lifelong suffering from an incurable debilitating disease may be hard but it bears good fruits for many people. God indeed has a purpose for each of our problems and when we discover what that purpose is, the problem ceases to be a burden and turns out to be a blessing.”
Nowadays, this father of three girls is just happy and proud to see his children growing up to become responsible young women, with his eldest daughter graduating from college and his youngest graduating from elementary school with first honors. Last year, his second daughter who has Down syndrome, spoke at a White House dinner with President Barack Obama, as a Special Olympics Global Youth Ambassador.
“My daughters’ accomplishments make me feel so fulfilled. They say that I have inspired them, that despite my condition and problems, I strive to be always happy and content with my life.”
To know more about this year’s Search for the Happiest Pinoy, visit www.happiest-pinoy.com, and like Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/happiestpinoy.