MANILA – Efren Peñaflorida, the man behind a group that started the "pushcart" education program in the Philippines, was welcomed a hero in Cavite province on Saturday.
American cable news network CNN hailed Peñaflorida as Hero of the Year for his “Kariton Klassroom”, a mobile classroom that brings around teaching materials to different areas they service.
ABS-CBN News correspondent TJ Manotoc reported that the motorcade began with Peñaflorida on the truck with Cavite City Mayor Toti Paredes and the true beneficiaries of the award -- the kids from the slums of Cavite. Also on board the truck was Kariton #1: Kari.
Paredes announced that the city will build Peñaflorida’s group, the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC), a four-classroom complex worth P3 million.
The mayor also said that starting next year and every year thereafter, the city will celebrate Efren Peñaflorida Day every November 22.
Many waited as early as 7 a.m. and converged outside the Cavite State University (CSU) where Peñaflorida finished his undergraduate degree in education.
The motorcade passed the routes of the main avenue of Cavite City from CSU up to the City Hall. Alumni from his elementary school, his high school--Cavite National High School where he graduated as Valedictorian—lined up the streets to greet his motorcade.
The convoy and the parade grew longer as all those waving by the sides of the streets joined the parade.
When the convoy reached the city hall, Peñaflorida offered a wreath at the monument of Cavite’s 13 martyrs.
Peñaflorida beat nine other CNN’s Hero of the Year contenders from different countries after getting the highest number of online votes. More than 2.75 million votes were cast in 7 weeks, the CNN website reported. Over 9,000 nominations were sent in by viewers.
He received US$100,000 to continue his work with the DTC. He also got US$25,000 for being included in the top 10 CNN Heroes.
Aside from the hero’s welcome, Peñaflorida was conferred the Order of Lakandula by President Arroyo.