After an almost year-long search that gathered hundreds of thousands of entries from all over the Philippines and abroad, a financial analyst with Cerebral Palsy was hailed as the newest winner of Cebuana Lhuillier’s Search for the Happiest Pinoy. During the Filipiniana-themed awards night at the Solaire Resort and Casino Grand Ballroom on September 10, 28-year old Richardson Navor from Caloocan, bested nine other finalists and took home a cash prize worth P1 million and a trophy.
Navor is the third winner of the Search for the Happiest Pinoy which was first introduced in 2009. Launched in October of last year, the third edition came with the introduction of its own jingle, social media ambassadors and activations across the country. The campaign also rolled out several promotional activities, coordinating with different government sectors, school organizations and partners to encourage more Filipinos to submit nominations.
Breaking its own record, over 280,000 nominations were received this year, the most in the campaign’s three-year history.
“This is only the third edition of the search and it has already grown significantly, collecting more entries, and, hopefully, inspiring even more individuals. Richardson is a great addition to the search’s roster of model citizens. His story is one we can all learn and draw inspiration from to live happier and more meaningful lives no matter the challenges,” said Cebuana Lhuillier President and CEO, Jean Henri Lhuillier.
Navor joins the ranks of Winston Maxino and Rommel Arellano with his own inspiring story. Despite being born with cerebral palsy, he has gone through life inspiring and influencing people, and always looking at the positive side of circumstances. His condition did not hinder him from getting a good education as he excelled in his studies. Besides being elected as the Student Council President, he also graduated magna cum laude and was given various leadership awards and recognitions including Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Student of the Philippines and Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines.
When Navor’s mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer, he became the main source of strength of his family. He sought monetary assistance from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and from different people. He even sacrificed some of his allowance from his scholarship for his mother. Eventually, his mother was diagnosed cancer free.
Navor did not pass the CPA licensure exam but he continued to persevere and live life with positivity. He is now a financial analyst at IBM Philippines and continues to receive service awards for his advocacies. Dedicated to helping the youth and persons with disabilities, Navor formed an organization named People Uplifting the Student and the Handicapped (PUSH) which gives free leadership trainings, personality development seminars, and livelihood workshops to students and PWDs. PUSH also donated wheelchairs and canes to Yolanda survivors.
Navor was chosen through a series of screenings including deliberations and panel interviews. The final selection process was done through the collaborative efforts of judges who have achieved notable success in their respective fields. Gathering individuals of varying backgrounds, the board was composed of advertising guru Emily Abrera, motivational speaker and author Francis Kong, Supreme Court Legal Consultant, Atty. Ann Corominas, 2009 Hero of the Year Efren Peñaflorida, Camarines Sur representative Hon. Leni Robredo, TV news personality Luchi Cruz-Valdez, Cebuana Lhuillier Insurance Solutions General Manager Jonathan Batangan, and the search’s past two winners–Winston Maxino and Rommel Arellano.
Besides Navor, two other individuals were recognized as two more awards were added to this year’s search. Arnel Genzola, a professor based in China, was declared as the Happiest OFW, while Cyprian Jade Basa, a student from Roxas City, was hailed as the Happiest Student. Meanwhile, the grand winner’s nominator, Loriel Macalindol Castillo, Navor’s friend, was also recognized and was given a cash prize.
The rest of the top ten finalists in this year’s search are Johnny Medrano, a watch and cellphone technician from Batangas; Rustie Quintana, an artist from Cagayan De Oro City; Rodolfo Mendoza, a PWD advocate from Nueva Ecija; Randy Halasan, a teacher from Davao City; Eduardo Hernal, Jr., a retired military officer turned pastor from Taguig City; Julia Marquez, a retired teacher from Batangas; Don De Vera, an architect from Las Piñas City; Cyprian Jade Basa, a student from Roxas City; and Naprey Almario, a non-government organization founder and businessman from Davao City.
Launched six years ago, the Search for the Happiest Pinoy aims to rekindle the values of optimism, resilience, and hope in Filipinos amidst difficulties. It highlights stories of individuals who have a positive outlook in life, have the proven ability to rise above life’s challenges, and have caused a positive impact in the lives of others.