Sunday, November 22, 2009

When the Bullied Becomes The Hero

How do you define a hero? Does it really take bullets, blood and painful, harrowing ordeal in order to be one? Tonight, as I tinker down these thoughts, I am watching another magnificent triumph for the country. Just days after Pacquiao's victory comes another reason to be proud of.

His name is Efren Peñaflorida. A school teacher who bagged this year's CNN Hero of the Year out of the 10 finalists vying for the said honor. I first saw him in the Ako Mismo commercial. Funny but at that time, we in Highlights were busy thinking about who to feature in our final issue for this year with the theme Proud to be Pinoy.

Maybe we weren't lucky enough to get him in one of our pages for a greater reason. He won't just make it to our pages because he will make it for the rest of the world to know. He was named Hero of the Year for his advocacy to bring educator to street children as an alternative to gang membership like what normally happens through pushcart classes. He founded Dynamic Team Company to train young children in becoming responsible, systematic and principled.

What surprised me was that he was also a victim of bullying back in high school.

Look inside you and be'll finally see the truth that a hero lies in you.

Quoting Efren on his speech during the awarding ceremony at Hollywood's Kodak Theater, he further stresses a hero defined:

"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."

Many people are called to serve but few are chosen. Efren Peñaflorida heeded this call--even did something extraordinary. And it did not need any amount of suffering to be a hero; but instead, all is takes is one powerful word--SERVE.

Like Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it, a hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer. That man happened and proved to be Efren. He was able to be brave five minutes longer to bring a very significant change to society--and that five minutes will long be a prized, living legacy.

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