Another Filipino shows the world that we are not only good and popular in sports(boxing that is) but in humanitarian work as well. If you have seen the news urging us (Filipinos) to vote online for the CNN hero of the Year to the Filipino Efren Peñaflorida Jr for his contributions to the community through a brand of mobile education, or the “pushcart classroom,” for urban poor youth.
Peñaflorida, fondly called “Kuya F,” was named 2009 CNN Hero of the Year. In his acceptance speech, he said: “Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need.” Sophia Dedace file photo “Efren Peñaflorida, who started a ‘pushcart classroom’ in the Philippines to bring education to poor children as an alternative to gang membership, has been named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year,” the world-renowned Cable News Network said in an article posted on its Web site.
The 28-year-old Peñaflorida will receive $100,000 from CNN. The network’s top anchor Anderson Cooper announced the winner at the conclusion of the annual awards ceremony.
Earlier, Peñaflorida told GMANews.TV that should he win, he would pledge the prize money to the children that his group, the Dynamic Teen Company, is helping.
In his acceptance speech at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, CNN quoted him as saying: “Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve. As I always tell my co-volunteers… you are the change that you dream as I am the change that I dream and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be.”
The taped event will be aired on November 26, CNN said.
Peñaflorida won over nine other “CNN heroes,” seven of whom were American. One of them, 20-year-old Jordan Thomas, lost both his legs in a boating accident and set up a foundation that provides prosthetics to poor children who have also lost limbs.
News of Peñaflorida’s selection spread briskly among Filipinos through the Internet. One Facebook user, Kristine Fonacier, had recently spent a year as a volunteer in Guyana. “We need all the hope that we can get from our Manny Pacquiaos,” Fonacier wrote. “But here Efren Penaflorida has made a name for himself on the global stage not because he’s enormously successful or fabulously wealthy, but because he’s given his time to ‘helping others.’ It’s such a simple but world-changing idea, and it’s high time we Filipinos get behind it.”
Last October, CNN opened the online voting for its Top 10 Heroes. Peñaflorida said that being included in the top 10 alone was already an honor. Still, he refused to take credit for the recognition. “If the people vote for me, they are actually voting for the poor kids DTC is teaching and the dedicated volunteers behind this work,” he earlier said.
CNN said more than 2.75 million votes were cast during the seven-week online voting. The network, however, did not indicate how many votes Peñaflorida got.
Peñaflorida, who hails from Cavite City in Cavite province Philippines, started the Dynamic Teen Company in 1997.
His group used “Kariton Klassrooms” or mobile pushcarts to reach out and teach underprivileged children [See: A CNN hero started with a pushcart full of hopes].
The DTC has now over 2,000 members teaching basic reading and writing, and even personal hygiene to marginalized children in slum areas in Cavite using pushcarts filled with books, pens, tables and chairs.