By Alexander Villafania
INQUIRER.net First Posted 16:53:00 11/22/2009 Filed Under: Awards and Prizes
MANILA, Philippines – For his innovative "Kariton Klasrum" (pushcart
classroom) Filipino educator Efren Peñalforida has been awarded by CNN
as "2009 Hero of the Year."
Peñaflorida was awarded during the CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at
the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. He received his award from American
actress Eva Mendes.
He bested nine other nominees from different countries for the Hero of
the Year award. The nominees were initially selected by a panel of 14
"Blue Panel" luminaries but the Hero of the Year award is given to the
one with the most number of online votes in the CNN Heroes website.
Peñaflorida would be the first Filipino to become a nominee of the
annual CNN Heroes awards and the first to Filipino to win the top
The project, already in its third year, is a a tribute by the
international news organization to selfless humanitarian acts of
individuals from different countries.
In his acceptance speech, quoted by CNN, Peñaflorida said: "Our planet
is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of
different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry. 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."
"So to each and every person inside in this theater and for those who
are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed.
Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve.
As I always tell to 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."
Peñaflorida will receive $100,000. This will be used to fund his work
in the Dynamic Teen Company, a volunteer organization that he put up
to conduct his "Kariton Klasrum" program.
Peñaflorida's program conducts weekly visits to poor and underserved
areas in Cavite, north of Luzon, to teach young people basic lessons
in Mathematics, English, and Science using only a specially designed
In a previous interview, Peñaflorida said he will continue holding
weekly lessons and hopes that it will encourage other people to lend
time to help others in need.