Loren hails CNN ‘Hero of the Year’

PNS — Sen. Loren Legarda yesterday hailed the recognition of a Cavite schoolteacher as “CNN Hero of the Year” as “also a recognition of the Filipinos’s ability and determination to help their less fortunate countrymen overcome their difficulties through education.”

Loren was referring to Efren Peñaflorida, 28, who received the highest online voting as CNN hero for 2009 conducted by the worldwide Cable News Network, out of 9,000 viewer nominations from all over the world. Ten other nominees share the honor with Efren.

Peñaflorida received the award for teaching street children by bringing to them to them the “kareton (pushcart) classroom” through which they learned to read and write and enjoy the reading of books. He has organized teenage girls and boys under the Dynamic Teen Co. to help him bring pushcart education to more out-of-school children.

“Efren has shown that we all can do good for our fellow countrymen who are less fortunate by performing some selfless service, no matter how humble, and improve their lives. We all could do something to help others and make our country a better place to live in, ensuring a brighter future for present and future generations,” said Loren.

An ardent environmentalist, Loren said that each citizen can help beautify and improve the environment by planting a tree, refrain from littering and cleaning their homes and surroundings, including creeks, waterways and oceans.

“We are all heroes if we help in whatever way we can to help our fellowmen and improve our physical and social environment so that the health and welfare of all will be promoted,” said Loren, who is the vice presidential candidate of the Nacionalista Party, in tandem with presidential bet Manny Villar.

Through her foundation, Luntiang Filipinas, Loren has planted over two million trees all over the Philippines. She has obtained the recognition for her environmental work by the United Nations which named her regional champion for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction.

“We all can do our bit in making our surroundings more beautiful and healthier, and prevent bigger disasters arising from climate change. In that sense we shall all be heroes even without worldwide recognition, but with the high estimation and admiration of our friends, neighbors and countrymen,” Loren declared.