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.

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.)