Efren Peñaflorida, CNN Hero of the Year

Efren Peñaflorida
, who started a “pushcart classroom” in the Philippines to bring education to poor children as an alternative to gang membership, has been named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year. “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 upon accepting the honor. “Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need. Peñaflorida will receive $100,000 to continue his work with the Dynamic Teen Company, was selected after seven weeks of online voting at CNN.com. More than 2.75 million votes were cast.

Watching Efren Peñaflorida receive the award and showing his national pride by wearing a Barong Tagalog made me proud that there are more Filipinos in the Philippines who continue to inspire those who need it the most. I remember watching a segment of Mr. Peñaflorida on TFC on his crusade to educate children living in the streets. I was shocked at how bad gang influence on Pinoy youths have gotten in the PI. Efren Peñaflorida, 28, also was bullied by gangs in high school. Today, Peñaflorida offers Filipino youths an alternative to gang membership through education.

The gala event, taped before an audience of 3,000 at the Kodak Theatre, premieres on Thanksgiving, November 26, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the global networks of CNN. Shout-out to Tyrone for the link!

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