Efren Penaflorida, Kris “Kesz” Valdez and Harnin Manalaysay

Efren Peῆaflorida, Kris “Kesz” Valdez
and Harnin Manalaysay
By Apolinario Villalobos

For those who do not have the time to surf the cyberspace but able to pick bits of news, the name Efren Peῆaflorida and Kris “Kesz” Valdez, as well as, “pushcart with books” may be familiar. Efren Peῆaflorida is the CNN Hero of the Year 2009 while Kesz Valdez is the recipient of the International Children’s Peace Award for Year 2012. And, Harnin Manalaysay is the mentor of the two mentioned awardees. Harnin Manalaysay belongs to the Club 8586, a group of low-profile evangelists based in Cavite City.

Efren ang Kesz belong to the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC), composed mainly of volunteer students, who push carts filled with books and goodies for street children of Cavite City. But their advocacy has spread far and wide so that in no time, towns and cities have been inspired to have their own version of such kind of “classroom”, although, some were organized with the help of DTC. But again, in all of these, Club 8586 is always behind as the moving spirit. Lately, a school is near completion at Amadeo, interestingly named Akademos Amadeus, at 8586 Halang-Angairo Road, barangay Halang Banay-banay, Amadeo, Cavite. They are also in the process of establishing a similar project Tacloban City.

I had my first encounter with the group when I brought a small box of books to them at 188 J. Miranda St., Caridad, Cavite City, more than five years ago. I was entertained then, by Mr. Manalaysay and Ms. Angel Neri who is now charged with DTC’s operations aside from acting as secretary of Mr. Peῆaflorida.

Lately, when the steady arrival of books from a US-based friend overwhelmed me, I made several calls to the group to arrange with them the turn over. Initially, my calls were handled by volunteers. But my latest call was handled by a guy who I failed to identify immediately as Mr. Manalaysay, because he humbly introduced himself as one of the group’s volunteers. However, when I checked their site, I saw his photo which prompted me to recall my first visit during which I had a talk with him.

They do not normally pick up donations from the homes of donors because they have no transportation for this purpose. Donated books are normally brought to them by donors themselves. But I was lucky because Mr. Manalaysay was scheduled for a luncheon speaking engagement in Tagaytay and he volunteered to drop by my place to pick up the books and other materials crammed in four large-sized balikbayan boxes, on the way to the venue.

On the day of the pick-up, they arrived on a van provided by the host of Mr. Manalaysay. The group was composed of Mr. Manalaysay, himself, Angel Neri, Kesz Valdez, as well as, teen-aged and diminutive volunteers, Ichan and Jeriemay. I was touched by their enthusiasm while we were hauling out the books from the boxes to be practically squeezed in all spaces available in the van, leaving just enough for them. Even Mr. Manalaysay who walks with the help of a cane, shared his effort. The smile on their sweaty faces showed their sincerity in putting their advocacy into action, giving it life. They move with precision, without wasting time which proved that anything can be done with seriousness while enjoying every moment as shown by their smile.

I learned that the Dynamic Teen Company plans to establish as many as fifty more “karitun klasrums” throughout the country. For me, such plan is not ambitious. It can be done and the group has proved it even with meager budget that they try to scrimp.

The DTC has a website and facebook. Just use the name of the group, Dynamic Teen Company or Karitun Klasrum as tags, to check on what you can extend to these enthusiastic youth. They need books for the library, workbooks, pencils, materials for hygiene like soap, toothbrush, also, slippers, school bags, food – practically anything that the less fortunate needs. We need not wonder about these needs as we already know what one needs in order to live decently. If you get teary-eyed every time you see photos of the less fortunate and wonder how you can help, this is now your chance.

Their telephone number is (046) 4315263.
Address: 188 J. Miranda St., Caridad, Cavite City.
Calls will be entertained, if not by volunteers, by Ms. Neri and Mr. Manalaysay, themselves.

For those coming from Manila, buses for Cavite City can be taken at the Coastal Mall bus terminal in Baclaran. From Bacoor, mini-buses can be taken at the terminal in front of the Habay entrance of SM-Bacoor.

Please bring the donations, yourself.

The Pushcart that went Far…this is about the Karitun Klasrum of the Dynamic Teen Company

The Pushcart that Went Far

…this is about the KARITUN KLASRUM

Of the DYNAMIC TEEN COMPANY

By Apolinario Villalobos

As of yet, few knows about the Karitun Klasrum, because the reference is the offshoot of the more popular “kariton classroom” but had to be tagged yet with the name, Efren Peῆaflorida to be recalled. Also, few people know that their group is called DYNAMIC TEEN COMPANY (DTC). For the non-Filipinos, “kariton” is the Pilipino for wooden three or four-wheeled pushcart.

Efren Peῆaflorida hugged the limelight when he won the CNN Hero of the Year Award in 2009 because of his low-profile effort in helping street kids in Cavite City gain knowledge from what meager resources he and his group piled on a pushcart that they, yes, push around the coastal city. They have favorite shady spots where they park their pushcart, so that the kids need not look for them. One of these spots is in the cemetery which was once featured on TV, during which Cris “Kesz” Valdez was shown, demonstrating to the street kids the proper brushing of teeth and washing of hands.

Now on Kesz, he was a neglected child who at the young age of two was forced to scavenge in dumps for junks that can be sold to support the needs of his drug-dependent father. At a young teen age, he was forced to leave his family and lived on his own, finding security in the stillness of the cemetery where he slept. He was adopted by Hernan Manalaysay of the Club 8586, a group of evangelists until he found his way towards the comfort of the Dynamic Teen Company. Kesz won the International Children’s Peace Award in 2012, given at The Hague, Amsterdam.

The Dynamic Teen Company has a project at Amadeo, Cavite, a school that they named Akademus Amadeus. It shall cater to students who find it hard to pursue their studies in the city because of the expenses involving high tuition fees, board, food, and transportation. Construction is on a fast phase and at this stage, the school library is almost finished. According to Ms. Angel Neri, who heads the DTC Operations, and at the same time serves as the secretary/assistant of Efren, book donations are welcome to fill the shelves of the library.

The Akademus Amadeus can be found at 8586 Halang-Aingaro Road, Barangay Halang Banay-banay, Amadeo, Cavite. Book donations can be sent to Efren Peῆaflorida c/o Mrs. Adela Monton or Mr. Mediacio Monton at the school address.

Aside from the Akademus project, the DTC still pursues its objective of establishing 50 more Karitun Klasrum in areas where they are needed. For more details on the ongoing projects of the group, interested parties can get in touch with them through telephone, (046) 4315263 and look for Ms. Angel Neri. In case she is out, a volunteer who answers the phone can help in providing the initial information. The DTC is located at 188 J. Miranda St., Caridad, Cavite City.

Use tags, Efren Florida, Cris Valdez or Dynamic Teen Company, for a quick search in the cyberspace to know more about their advocacy.

Cris “Kesz” Valdez…epitome of struggle

Cris “Kesz” Valdez

…epitome of struggle

 

By Apolinario B Villalobos

An innocent smile

Gives radiance to his face –

Kesz, as friends call the lad

Is a picture of exhilaration

When all eyes turned to him

And palms are clapped

For a thunderous jubilation.

The thirteen years of struggle

Put his enduring will to a test

As he lived away from family

Who thought him to be a jinx

And to a dump he was left

But lucky to have been saved

And given another chance to live.

Devoting his life in helping others

This he does, though at such an age –

Pushing carts filled with books

He and his buddies scour the roads

For children with want for knowledge

Nothing can slow them down, not rain

Not thirst, not hunger, aches and pain.

The International Children Peace Prize

For the year 2012 he got, truly deserved

Has shown that God has plans for us all

And that the best life that man can live

Is one that is patiently driven with guts

And nurtured with determination to succeed

Just like what this sweetly smiling lad, Kesz did!

(Kesz Valdez has been awarded the 2012 International Children’s Peace Prize at The Hague for his effort in helping around 10,000 children in Cavite City, 30 kilometers from Manila City. He is with a group that pushes pushcarts filled with books, toys, sweets, slippers, etc. for the needy children of the city. They share with the children knowledge on health, values and love of God. He belongs to Dynamic Teen Company of Efren Peñaflorida, a CNN Awardee. Their group is based in Cavite City.)