Efren Peñaflorida visiting the Filipino Reporter at the Empire State Building in New York City on Nov. 10.

Exclusive to the Filipino Reporter

A year after being hailed as CNN Hero of the Year for his mobile pushcart classrooms that provide street children an alternative to gangs and drugs through education in unconventional places like cemeteries and trash dumps, Efren Peñaflorida Jr. is back in the United States to raise money for the completion of a two-storey building in Cavite City that will give more unfortunate youngsters a chance for a better life.

Peñaflorida, who paid a visit to the Filipino Reporter office on Wednesday night, said about 70 percent of the building that resembles a pushcart has been finished and his Dynamic Teen Company needs to raise about P3 million more to complete the construction.

It will be known as Kalingain Batang Mahirap (Nurture the Poor Children) Learning Center and will include a computer lab, a library, a health clinic, a kitchen for feeding programs and a garage for pushcarts.

“More than teaching basic reading and writing to kids in the slums and streets, transient street children among them, we also provide them food, clothing and school supplies; first aid treatment of scabies and wounds, and teach them value formation and even proper hygiene,” said Peñaflorida, who was honored on Nov. 12 by the Filipino-American community at the Lovin’ Life Learning Center at 4 West 43rd Street in Manhattan.

The 7 p.m. event was sponsored by the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) Region I, in partnership with the Philippine Consulate General in New York.

The 29-year-old “Kuya Ef” was accompanied to the FR office by Cora Reyes, executive director of NaFFAA Region I, and Los Angeles-based businesswoman Erlinda Granada Sabah, who are both helping promote the “Kariton Klasrum” advocacy.

Earlier that day, he served as keynote speaker at World Forum 2010 of the International Forum for Child Welfare (IFCW) at IBM Center in Palisades, N.Y., where he is staying while in town.

Last week, he met with the Fil-Am community in the West Coast.

This Nov. 25, Peñaflorida will grace the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Award to be broadcast globally at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Last year’s event was held at the Kodak Theater.

“He remains very down-to-earth and very loveable just like when we first met him in L.A. last year,” Granada told the Reporter. “When you get to talk to him, you will fall in love with his advocacy, then you will fall in love with his personality. He really loves kids and he hasn’t changed a bit.”

Granada pointed out that the $125,000 won by Peñaflorida in March 2009 had been accounted for and used efficiently for the advocacy.

“Remember that 30 percent of the prize went directly to the (IRS) Internal Revenue Service,” she explained. “And not a single cent went to Efren or his family.”

Peñaflorida said 10 percent of the money went to a local church, another 30 percent to the scholarship of some 50 children — some of them college — while the rest went to the “Kariton Klasrum” program and the construction of the building.

He proudly shared that the program that started way back in 1997 has been duplicated in other parts of the Philippines, while his Dynamic Teen Company is consulted by the Department of Education to reach out to out of school youth.

When asked if his advocacy receives financial support from the Philippine Government, Peñaflorida said no.

“But we get assistance every now and then and support from individuals, including celebrities,” he said.

He said the pushcart classroom gets a boost every time famous figures show up to literally help push the carts stocked with books, notebooks, ballpens and food, among other things.

He cited showbiz personalities like Gerald Anderson, Karylle, Enchong Dee and TV journalist TJ Manotoc (and the Manotoc family) as among the avid supporters of the program.

Peñaflorida admitted he received invitations to run for public office and even try showbiz with offers of guestings in TV sitcoms, but the boyish educator said he turned them down in order to focus on his programs for poor children.

Peñaflorida, who has a bachelor of science degree in secondary education (cum laude) and associate degree in computer technology, is planning to return to his masteral in educational management at the University of the Philippines.

He has an honoris causa, doctor of pedagogy, from the National Teachers College.

Donors can reach him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit www.dynamicteencompany.org

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