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16/10/2009: Filipino A Top Ten Finalist On CNN’s “Hero Of The Year”

16 OCTOBER 2009 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twenty eight year-old Filipino Efren Penaflorida, Jr. made it to the top ten finalists of Cable News Network’s (CNN) “Hero of the Year” for championing impoverished children in the Philippines and inspiring them to transform into dynamic and proactive members of the society through education.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa lauded Penaflorida’s noble work stating, “Efren has proved that one person, with his determination and selflessness, can touch the lives of many and make a difference in the world.”

Born to a poor family in Cavite City, Penaflorida has been a witness to the growth of teenage gangs in the Philippines, which according to him, can be attributed to poverty.  Feeling a great need to persuade his fellow youth to change and cease their delinquent ways, he and a group of friends in high school established the “Dynamic Teen Company” (DTC) to divert their attention to education.

Today, DTC has grown to a 10,000 member volunteer group teaching basic reading, writing, arithmetic and English every Saturdays to marginalized children in the slums of Cavite City.  Using a roaming “pushcart” filled with books, pens and tables and chairs, they are able to transform places such as cemeteries and dump sites into classrooms.  In a span of 12 years, Penaflorida and his group has changed the lives of over 1,500 children.

Penaflorida’s heroism has caught the attention of an international audience in this year’s “Hero of the Year” contest sponsored by CNN.  Out of a pool of nearly 9,000 applicants, Penaflorida has successfully made it to the top ten finalists.  The winner, which will be chosen through an online public voting, will be awarded with a $100,000.00 cash prize.

“Efren serves as a champion to the marginalized Filipino youth,” Ambassador Gaa emphasized.  “He has gone a long way with his pushcart and we know that he can go even further if chosen as this year’s ‘Hero of the Year.’  It is in this note that I exhort the Filipino community in the United States to aid in furthering Efren’s cause by casting your votes online in support of him.”

Voting period will run until November 19, 2009.  A link to the voting page can be accessed at http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/vote/. END.