MANILA, Philippines – Carlos “Kesz” Valdez found the love he longed for in the group that took him in when he was still a street child.
“Inabandon po ako ng parents ko,” Kesz said in a phone interview with dzMM on Saturday.
But instead of rebelling or turning to drugs and other bad vices, Kesz channeled all his disappointments into something positive.
“Dati po masama yung loob ko sa parents ko pero nung nag-start ako sa grupong sinalihan ko, nakatanggap po ako ng pagmamahal sa grupo, yung Club 8586 po,” the boy said.
Kesz said he saw himself in every street children begging, roaming and scavenging other people’s trash on the streets.
“Na-inspire po akong tulungan sila. Nung nasunog po ako, may tumulong po sa akin at gusto ko pong ibalik yung tulong na yun sa ibang bata po,” he said.
Kesz recently made Filipinos proud by winning the International Children's Peace Prize award, dubbed as the Nobel Peace Prize for children, in a ceremony held in The Netherlands.
“Masaya ako na na-meet ko mga importanteng tao. Nire-represent ko ang mga batang nawawalan ng pagasa sa buhay. Ito ang patunay na mayroon pa din pagasa,” he said.
He attributed his success to all the people who helped him rebuild his young life.
“Nag volunteer po ako nung 6-years old ako. Ako po yung hygiene demonstrator sa Kariton Classroom, tapos nung 8-years old po ako, doon ako bumuo ng sarili ko pong grupo po, yung Championing Community Children. Ang misyon namin makatulong sa mga bata sa community,” he said.
But news about a supposed cash prize that he received from the award saddened him.
“Na-disappoint po ako imbes na mag-focus sa mga project ng grupo para sa mga kabataang nasa kalye po, e nagfo-focus po dun sa pera po,” he said.
He clarified, “wala po kaming natanggap na any cash prize”. What he received he said was a Nkosi sculpture, educational support from KidsRights, and a platform to talk in schools here and abroad.
Kesz also humbly expressed that he also felt a little disappointed towards his father who approached him to ask for money after he appeared on several print and broadcast media after winning the award.
“Medyo may sama (ng loob) ako ng konti sa tatay ko po. Nung nalalaman niya po na lumalabas po ako sa mga ganito, sa TV akala niya po may malaking pera po akong natatanggap. Pero wala. Hinihingan nya po ako ng P30,000,” he said. dzMM