Journey plus charity

Beauty queens Bea Santiago, MJ Lastimosa discover secret to a ‘Happy Life’

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Bea Santiago (second from left) with her ‘Happy Life’ co-hosts (from left) Anthea Murfet, Guilia Zahar and Sophie Rankin

Bea Santiago (second from left) with her ‘Happy Life’ co-hosts (from left) Anthea Murfet, Guilia Zahar and Sophie Rankin

As an archipelago with 7,107 islands, it is no wonder that the Philippines is in abundance of travel programs that showcase the country’s beauty.

As such, each one tries to be unique in concept—whether in showing the most visited sites, revealing best-kept secrets, or giving tips on how to explore like a local.

But rarely are there shows that capture the Philippines’ beauty while taking time to check in on locals, and more so respond to their needs. That is, until the idea of Happy Life came along, the newest travel show that combines sightseeing with philanthropy.

Directed by Eric Quizon, this weekly program airs Sunday mornings on GMA News TV, beginning with a travelogue, which smoothly transitions into a feature on a less privileged but hard working dweller of the featured destination.


The heart of the program ensues when the hosts reward the village pride with prizes to make their lives better. For example, on the show’s first episode, Happy Life chose a farmer and senior from Visayas who had tirelessly tilled the soil for his children and grandchildren no matter how difficult it became with age. His reward for his devotion to family? A fully furnished brand new house and lot that is a stone’s throw away from the farmland.

Host MJ Lastimosa with the interviewee who changed her outlook in life photo from Instagram.COM/MJ_Lastimosa

Host MJ Lastimosa with the interviewee who changed her outlook in life photo from Instagram.COM/MJ_Lastimosa

“This is why we are so proud to be part of the show,” chorused beauty queen hosts Bea Rose Santiago and MJ Lastimosa.

The pair of stunners held a press conference together with Quizon and the show’s producer former Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson, and became emotional talking about their experiences.

“The show changed me not just as person or a Filipino, it changed my overall outlook of life. With Mr. Singson as a model, I realized that no matter how big or powerful or rich you are, you have to help people. You have to share to people and show them that you can,” Santiago, 2013 Miss International, volunteered.

“My heart for doing charitable works started when I joined beauty pageants. Then when I won I had this dream of traveling, so when Direk Erik offered me to be part of the show—which would allow me to travel around and help people—I said yes without batting an eyelash,” Miss Universe-Philippines Lastimosa related.

Director Eric Quizon (leftmost) believes that ‘Happy Life’s’ ultimate aim is to inspire viewers to pay it forward

Director Eric Quizon (leftmost) believes that ‘Happy Life’s’ ultimate aim is to inspire viewers to pay it forward

Besides fulfillment, the show also made Lastimosa grateful for being blessed, perhaps not with a luxurious life, but definitely a more comfortable one than what she has seen throughout the country.

“I think what’s really nice is that we are showing the different sides of places, the good and the bad. Not all travel shows are just about the beautiful scenery and the food. This is showing the real life. I was teary eyed when we met a pedicab driver who lost his hands but continues to work for his family. The experience made me humble because sometimes I complain about life, wanting more work, more expensive items and yet there are these simple people,” she related.

Finally, according to Quizon, the show’s ultimate aim is to inspire other viewers to “pay it forward” whether in their own communities or even through donations to the program.

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