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CNN HERO. Efren Peaflorida was recently proclaimed as one of the top ten finalists of CNN Heroes that honors individuals from around the globe for their selfless humanitarian acts. Penaflorida founded Cavite-based volunteer group Dynamic Teens Company, whose mobile classrooms serve underprivileged communities. Video taken by INQUIRER.net's Alex Villafania and Marjorie Gorospe.





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An afternoon with a modern-day Filipino hero

By Alexander Villafania
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 19:43:00 11/09/2009

Filed Under: Awards and Prizes

MANILA, Philippines?-Heroes walk among us and they don?t wear costumes. They?re just in plain site, trying to make a difference not for themselves but for others. It?s a domino effect that should inspire and encourage people to act and do the same.

Efren Penaflorida is a 28-year old teacher and social worker whose day job is teaching at the Palmridge School in Cavite. He looks no different than most people of the same profession, doing something that is seen as both a public service and as passion.

But Penaflorida takes his passion beyond the usual five-day work week of a regular teacher.

During Saturdays he and dozens of other volunteer youths teach underserved and out-of-school youths. Instead of the usual classroom approach, Penaflorida takes it to the streets and he calls it the ?Kariton Klasrum? (pushcart classroom).

?School on wheels?

Penaflorida and his colleagues fill the specially-built pushcart with all the necessary educational materials from books, notepads, and writing implements. He takes the pushcart to places with many street children and out-of-school youths and teaches them basic subjects like Math, English and Science.

Knowing that many of the children who ?attend? his weekend schools are poor, he also included lessons in hygiene, complete with soap. Likewise, some volunteers also give free medical examinations and medicine to underprivileged communities.

All these he has been doing for 10 years, which started when he was still a high school student.

Volunteerism

Penaflorida founded the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC), a volunteer group aimed at encouraging youths to help underprivileged people, most especially other youths, by offering free teaching on basic subjects.

The DTC?s ?Kariton Klasrum? has so far been replicated in other regions in the Philippines. A version of this volunteer project was also established in Kenya.

The group has expanded beyond their weekend teaching activities and has helped in other youth-oriented support campaigns including counseling, values formation, human rights, and some medical missions.

It has also helped some agencies, including the Department of Education?s annual ?Balik Eskwela? (back-to-school) program. The group?s network of volunteers has grown to about 10,000 members nationwide and continues to grow.

Selfless passion

For exerting so much effort into his passion, Penaflorida was nominated early this year as one of the candidates for CNN Heroes, a tribute by the international news organization to selfless humanitarian acts of individuals from different countries.

And Penaflorida is getting a few steps closer to becoming the CNN Hero for 2009. He was recently pronounced as one of the top ten finalists and is closer to winning the US$100,000 prize money.

For one afternoon, CNN organized a local meet-and-greet with Penaflorida in Manila. The purpose is to entice people to vote for him at the CNN Heroes website. On November 26, the CNN Hero of the year will be announced.

But despite his success for already becoming a CNN Hero, Penaflorida remains humble, saying that he?d continue doing what he has been doing. ?I don?t doubt there are other heroes among us. What?s important is that we see others doing the same thing. I?m already thankful for everything.?



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