Updated November 23, 2009 12:00
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino has received international recognition
for his innovative effort in educating poor children.
Efren Peñaflorida, who started the "Kariton Klassroom"
to bring education to poor children, has been named CNN Hero of the
Year, the cable news network announced yesterday.
According to the CNN website, Peñaflorida was selected after
getting the highest number of online votes, which reached 2.75 million
in seven weeks.
The 28-year-old teacher from Cavite City bested nine other contenders
from different countries.
Peñaflorida received the award from actress Eva Mendes at
the conclusion of "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" held
at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on Saturday night in the US.
He received $100,000 cash to continue his work with his group, Dynamic
Teen Company, according to CNN. The cash prize is on top of the $25,000
bonus that Peñaflorida received after he was included in the
top 10 CNN Heroes.
"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," Peñaflorida said in his acceptance speech before
an audience of about 3,000.
Peñaflorida urged the crowd to "be the hero to the next
one in need." He also called on them to "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
said. As a child, Penaflorida chose education over gang life in Cavite
City and vowed to create a way for other children to make the same
Peñaflorida said he was occasionally bullied and beaten by
street gangs, which prompted him to decide to come to the aid of street
children and rescue them from poverty and neglect through education.
Peñaflorida created a program that brought books to children
in slums and on the streets, and the 10,000 members of his Dynamic
Teen Company have brought reading, writing and hygiene to 1,500 youngsters.
"My message to children of all races, please, to embrace learning
and love it for it will embrace and love you back and enable you to
change your world," Peñaflorida said.
Peñaflorida's group was first recognized after it won the
Bayaning Pilipino award for its heroic work in bringing education
to poor children in Cavite.
Since 1997, more than 10,000 volunteers are now helping in educating
more than 1,500 kids in depressed areas in Cavite.