Kariton Klasrum’s Efren Penaflorida is CNN Hero for 2009!

CNN has just announced that Efren Penaflorida is CNN Hero of the Year (2009), besting 9 other finalists worldwide. From an original 9,000 nominations, CNN whittled the finalists down to 10 and today, the overall winner was chosen via online voting.

Here’s CNN’s video showing Efren accepting the award:

When Efren became one of the 10 finalists, he and the others received $25,000 each but with this feather in the cap, he gets an additional $100,000. The entire Philippines is so proud of you, Efren! Isa kang tunay na bayaning Pinoy!

I feel happy to have been part of those who actively voted for Efren as I totally believe in his Kariton Klasrum (Pushcart Classroom) and his goal to give street children an alternative to gang membership.

I blogged about Efren being a finalist and how to make him a hero. Then during the voting period, bloggers actively promoted the voting via their blogs and Twitter, Plurk and Facebook accounts; TV stations plugged the website where people could vote; emails began circulating to get more people to join in the voting. The mission — to get Efren declared as CNN Hero — became a Pinoy-led campaign.

All in all, 2.75 million votes were cast for Efren. Did they say how many of those went to him alone? I don’t know. Personally, I can’t count anymore the number of times I voted for him. In the beginning, I did it from the CNN site, one vote at a time, but towards the end of the voting period, I was alerted to a site where one could “power vote” (which enabled 10 tabs to open at the same time), thus speeding up one’s ability to vote. Thanks to being a touch-typist, I was able to power vote a lot of times. My very own contribution to Efren’s cause!

Here are a couple of links if you want to know more about Efren and his cause:

CNN’s backgrounder on Efren Penaflorida

Dynamic Teen Company (a group of young people following in the footsteps of Efren)

While it is true though that many Filipinos worldwide showed once again the bayanihan spirit in voting for Efren, it does not take away the fact that all these started because one person decided to make a difference. What seemed like an insurmountable obstacle gave way to a dream and perseverance.

Efren Penaflorida did not just talk about his goals for a better Philippines. He went right out and did it by pushing the kariton klasrum to where kids needed it. If only we could find more of his kind, sincere and dedicated to the betterment of the Filipino youth, the Philippines is sure to be on the road to progress. Efren Penaflorida literally WALKS HIS TALK.

How many of us can say the same?

Congratulations, Efren! You are not just CNN’s Hero. You are a hero to each and every Filipino wherever he is in the world.