Efren Peñaflorida became very popular in the country, as well as, in the whole world due to the recently concluded CNN Heroes for 2009. Actually, he only became well-known due to the fact that an organization, the Club 8586, which sponsored his earlier education, nominated him to the 2009 CNN Heroes, where fortunately, Kuya Ef, as what he was fondly called by the children he teaches, won the CNN Hero of the Year (2009) Award.
But did you know that Efren used to live in a shanty located in the slum areas in Cavite during his early years and that he was once of one those children who merrily swam on the polluted river? And would you believe that during his grade school days, he was always bullied by some members of the gang who wanted to recruit him, where he bravely declined in front of their leader (of the gang)?
Yes, these are all true! The 2009 CNN Hero of the Year experienced all of these; and this was the reason why at the very young age of 16, he organized the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC), where it started with around 20 members. The aim of that newly formed group is to encourage children and teens to stay out of drugs and refrain from joining gangs but instead devote their time on their studies, develop their personality and enhance their skills and talent to make them more productive.
Efren graduated an Associate in Computer Technology at San Sebastian College-Recoletos de Cavite, where he garnered the highest honors. He was not contented with that as he pursued a second course at Cavite State University. He took up a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education where he graduated as cum laude last 2006.
The 28-year-old Efren, is currently employed in a private school and continues his advocacy every Saturday where he and the other volunteers of DTC bring their “pushcart classroom” in the road and teaches children and other out of school youths on the basics of reading and writing, developing and enhancing their personalities and skills.
He said that he is just giving back the opportunity that was given to him before – the opportunity to learn. He also believed that children should not be deprived of their right to education that is why he never ceases and never gets tired of conducting “pushcart classes” – a specially-made pushcart containing school materials such as books, pen, papers, etc. – even in the unlikely areas, like cemetery or trash dump.
Last December 4, the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) with Coca Cola Foundation and Senator Kiko Pangilinan awarded Efren Peñaflorida and his fellow volunteers of Dynamic Teen Company in their KKK: Kariton, Klassrum & Klinik Project.
As an awards-giving program, TAYO’s main objective is to seek, recognize, reward and encourage youth organizations all over the country with programs and projects that help their communities. This coincides with Coca-Cola’s vision as a company, which is “to be significant in the communities where we operate.”
Also, in a Senate Resolution recently initiated by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, the Philippine Senate congratulates and commends Efren Peñaflorida for being the first Filipino to be nominated in the annual CNN Heroes awards and the first Filipino to win the top prize as well.
This is truly a heroic deed that our country is in dire need, thus, deserves a recognition.
As Efren himself said, “You are the change that you dream, as I am the change that I dream, and together, we are the change that this world needs to be.”
So on Dec 11, 2009, all Filipinos of all colors are invited to gather in a tribute for CNN Hero Efren Penaflorida. Assembly at the Ninoy Aquino Statue at the corner of Ayala and Paseo De Roxas will be at 3:00 PM. Efren, followed by the people, will push his Kariton on Ayala Ave and will lead us to the concert venue on Makati Ave between Landmark and Greenbelt 4. This event will also be the venue for our outrage over the Maguindanao Massacre, GMA’s candidacy, and Martial Law in Maguindao.
The march will start at the Ninoy Aquino Statue at Ayala corner Paseo at 4PM on Friday, Dec 11 and we’ll have the concert at Makati Avenue between Landmark and Greeenbelt 4 from 5PM to 8PM.