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A Filipino HERO, a world HERO

Again Steve sent me an article he wrote. It is about the CNN Hero Awards. This subject has been covered on some other sites, but Steve adds some of his thoughts to share and asked me to publish it on my site. So here it is.
A Filipino HERO, a world HERO, by Steve in Davao

Last night I watched the CNN HERO Awards hosted by Anderson Cooper.

The Christmas season reminds us that we need to help and serve as much as possible. The stories that were told touched my heart. They told about common, ordinary people who saw a need, stepped-up, helped others and became extraordinary people. Efren Penaflorida is one of these extraordinary people.


Pushcart educator Efren Peñaflorida took top honors as the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year. He was recognized for bringing education to poor Filipino children through his “pushcart classroom”. He will receive $100,000 as his winning prize and he said that he’ll be using 90% of it to continue his work with the Dynamic Teen Company and the remaining 10% to the church.

Here are the 2009 Top 9 CNN Heroes:

Brad Blauser- He has vowed to try to make life a little easier for these families by organizing the distribution of wheelchairs, donated and paid for by his charity, Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids.
Roy Foster-  Started Stand Down House program provides homeless male vets food, shelter and a safe place to recover, as well as the tools to conquer their personal problems.

Doc Hendley- A Bartender who has traveled to Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Cambodia, working with local communities to build clean water wells and sanitation systems. His program Wine to Water has brought sustainable water systems to 25,000 people in five countries.

Andrea Ivory- Breast cancer survivor Andrea Ivory is bringing early detection to the doorsteps of uninsured women. With mobile mammography vans, her group has provided more than 500 free screenings in Miami, Florida.

Betty Makoni- Zimbabwe native who founded the Girl Child Network that creates safe spaces for girls to grow and connect with each other. Betty uses advocacy campaigns, media projects, and works with community leaders to raise awareness and change attitudes at community and national levels.

Jorge Munoz- Founded the nonprofit, An Angel in Queens which provide much needed meals through his mobile food to homeless in Queens, New York.

Budi Soehardi- A former pilot living in Singapore, and his wife, Peggy, run an orphanage looking after 47 children. They give a home and more importantly a family to abandoned children and those orphaned by the East Timor conflicts.

Derrick Tabb- Snare drummer for the Rebirth Brass Band and founder of the after-school Roots of Music band program for New Orleans middle-schoolers. His music education program provides free tutoring, instruments and music instruction to more than 100 students.

Jordan Thomas- From Chattanooga, Tennessee who started a foundation after he lost both feet in a boating accident and turned it into a great foundation to help other children receive the prosthetics that they need and can’t afford.

As Annie and I travel about the city and go about our lives here, we look for ways to make a difference. We had a special honor this year. When we came here in November, we carried money donated by a Church in Ohio, to help build a Church on Samal Island.

It all started after a Church Mission trip in 2006. My wife Annie could not believe it when a lady from Central Ohio Southern Baptist announced a women’s mission trip going to Davao, Philippines. “That’s my home!” she told me. “Can I go?” I told her, “Of course you will go!”, and the planning began. Soon, she and six other ladies from central Ohio were headed to Davao to work with the Pastors wives while staying in their homes on Samal Island.

Needless to say, friendships were forged and bonds were created.

In 2009, Annie and I had made a decision to move to Davao. Out of the blue, we received a letter from a Pastor on Samal who wanted to build a new Church building. We were doubtful at first. We had never taken on anything like this and did not know where to start, so, we contacted some of the other ladies from the mission group and a local Pastor from our home town and they said, “Let’s do it!”

Well, we raised some money and after we arrived here, in November, we called the Pastor’s wife and met to present her with the money. She was so pleased and immediately returned to Samal to order supplies to finish building the Church.

Next week, we will attend services in their new building (nearly finished) and take pictures to show our friends, who raised the money for this project. We are very excited to see the new building and meet the rest of the congregation. We are humbled by those who work so hard to reach their dreams.
What a wonderful world we live in and how blessed we are to live in these times. Hope and love for our fellow man is indeed alive.

After receiving his award, Efren Peñaflorida said this;
“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, 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.

“So to each and every person inside in this theater and for those who are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed. Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve. As I always tell to my co-volunteers … you are the change that you dream as I am the change that I dream and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be.”

I agree, “We are the change that this world needs to be”.

I started to write this article after reading Bruce’s article about having a Christmas party for the kids at Agdao Public Market. I re-wrote it after seeing Efren Peñaflorida’s story last night. It’s the simple things we do that mean so much, to those we help.

I hope each of you will step-out on faith and step-up to the challenges you see all around you and become someone’s Hero.

Steve in Davao

5 Responses to “A Filipino HERO, a world HERO”

  1. Steve in Davao says:

    Bruce, Happy New year! We ate at Space Burger in Giasano Mall today. Delicious!
    Passed an Expat and I smiled and said hello; he stopped and returned the Hello. Never stop smiling, never stop saying Hello!!!

    • Bruce says:

      Steve,
      I am glad you enjoyed Space Burger.
      There are many Expats that smile and say hello but are not seeking any more contact than that. Just keep it up and some will be open for friendship.

  2. Evelyn says:

    congatulations to mr efren penaflorida..
    i love his phrase “be the hero to the next one in need”…
    i think we are all heroes in our own little ways..

    • Bruce says:

      Evelyn,
      Being a hero, or just trying to improve a life is all that matters. The kids party at Agdao was something Elena and I wanted to do. Appreciation is all we wanted and the feelings of doing something nice.

  3. Steve in Davao says:

    Yes Evelyn, I believe you are correct.

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