Friday, November 27, 2009

No Hero's Welcome for CNN Hero

Efren Peñaflorida, Jr.,from the Philippines, bagged the prestigious Cable News Network (CNN) Hero 2009 award, over 9 other nominees all over the world, Sunday, November 15. He came home Wednesday midnight, November 25, without much fanfare. He was welcomed at the airport by jubilant relatives and supporters- ordinary people with ordinary lives- like Efren, himself.

There was no hero's welcome for Kuya "F". There was no media blitz. He was not seen with tight securities afforded only to the VIP's. There was not a single high-rank government official who accompanied him to the awards venue, the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. His big contribution to his country's name was too small compared to the popularity ( notoriety? ) of the powerful ruling Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao, who fared in the recent much-celebrated Maguindanao massacre, that took away the limelight from his honorable feat. But in fairness, I learned that he is to be conferred with the Lakandula order, for being a hero.

Just as he plied the forgotten filthy streets of Cavite City, silently, pushing carts filled with books, tables, pens, and chairs, that serve as his "pushcart classroom for the urban poor youth", he vowed to continue unobtrusively, his kind of mobile education advocacy. His simple but highly respectable acceptance speech, " to serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve", penetrates the heart to the core.

This humble 28-year old teacher, a native of Cavite City, and a true-blooded Filipino, epitomizes the Filipino trait "bayanihan" or the spirit of volunteerism. His pioneering mission to bring the classroom to the poor children in the slums to help curb the prevalence of gang memberships in these areas, is the essence of his advocacy. He was nominated to this world renowned search for a hero. And as he waited for the online voting results, he continued unperturbed plying the streets with his volunteer workers he called the Dynamic Teen Company ( DTC ).

Accordingly, he has over 2,000 volunteer members who are involved in teaching basic reading and writing skills among their beneficiaries, the marginalized children, who may have lost interest in attending formal schooling due to poverty. In addition to teaching them these basic skills, they are taught personal hygiene, clearly, to dignify their lot.

This very simple plan that evolves on a gargantuan effort paid off. Kuya "F" brought home his prize reward of $100,000 where 90% of the cash grant will go to Dynamic Teen Company, a part of which he pledges to use to build a gymnasium for his protegees- the under served youths, while the 10% will be for the church. And suddenly, many have noticed him. He is even eyed to join politics- which he politely declined.

I was once a teacher. I know that Kuya "F", the CNN Hero for 2009, is not embarrassed by the seemingly lack of fanfare over his fame. I'm sure that we both share our opinion over this stigma among teachers, that teachers are the unsung heroes, at least in this republic. They come, they go, they fade away. But this time, Kuya "F" leaves his footprints. Congratulations, Teacher Efren!

Video by rotaractmanilametro on YouTube


  1. galing talaga ng mga PINOY..

    woooh! PANALO!

    nice blog...

  2. Thanks for the compliment. Galing natin talaga! Mabuhay!



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