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Help a Pinoy win CNN ‘Hero’ search

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efren penafloridaFUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo
March 25, 2009 12:00 AM 

CNN is honoring ordinary citizens who have done outstanding works for the community in a program called CNN Heroes. Efren Peñaflorida, a 27-year-old Filipino teacher and youth worker from Cavite, is among the 32 nominees all over the world for his work at the Dynamic Teen Company. 

At a year-end gala, CNN will honor the 10 heroes and reveal the “CNN Hero of the Year” who will receive $100,000. In its second year in 2008, the multiplatform initiative received nearly 4,000 submissions from 75 countries. A special CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute program will then air globally on CNN International, CNN/U.S. and CNN en Español.

According to a CNN backgrounder, Peñaflorida experienced “hell” in high school. He was constantly harassed and threatened by the local gangs that terrorized his school. Students had few alternatives to the gangs. They were either forced into joining or they dropped out of school. Despite the pressure, Peñaflorida was determined to complete his education.

Growing up near the slums of Cavite City, he knew that, despite his problems, he was lucky. A lot of kids with his background didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. At 16, Peñaflorida decided to combine two problems to create a solution. He recruited three fellow high school students to go to the slums on Saturdays to teach younger kids. That was the beginning of the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC).

Ten years later, DTC’s membership has grown to around 10,000 members and they have tutored approximately 1,500 children from the slums. DTC became the solution Peñaflorida envisioned. It gives high school students an alternative to gangs and young children access to education. 

Peñaflorida continues to share the gift of learning. He teaches at a local private school in Cavite City and still accompanies DTC to the slums every Saturday. His deep commitment to education continues to change the face of his community.

You can help make Peñaflorida the “CNN Hero of the Year.” The winner will be chosen by a Blue Ribbon Panel via voting at the CNN website, www.CNN.com/Heroes. Vote now!

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