"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Efren “Kuya Ef!” Penaflorida Jr., Pinoy Hero & Our Misguided Confused Hero Worship of Manny Pacquiao

Efren “Kuya Ef!” Penaflorida Jr. acceptance speech at the 2009 CNN Heroes award at the Kodak Theater, Hollywood, California USA:
Thank you... 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... just have to look inside you.. and.... search it in your heart.... and be the hero... to the next ones 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 of Dynamic Team Company and Club 8586 Incorporated you are the change that you dreamed... as I am the change that I dreamed... and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be... Mabuhay.
One of the best speech I have heard coming from the heart and soul of our very own hero, short, yet so powerful, enough to give us goose bumps at the simplicity yet thought provoking message. A testament of mans innate goodness for fellowmen stepping up the plate to make a difference amidst the surrounding desolate reality of an impoverished community reduced to a numbing life of surreal scavenging for scraps at societies mountain of discarded garbage. Virtual bottom dwellers with no hope for the future in sight amidst a surrounding that literally stinks to high heavens and worse, people are left with no choice reduced to live in a filthy environment, and scavenging to eke out a living for survival.

Efren “Kuya Ef!” Penaflorida Jr. is a man who grew up in the same squalid environment undaunted by the filth of his environment early in life knew his only way out of the rut was to excel in his studies. So strong was his conviction that he knew his personal success alone is meaningless if he cannot inspire others to follow suit. So strong is his conviction that he has 10,000 volunteers doing the same thing he is doing with meager resources going around in a pushcart loaded with books to encourage slum children to take the path out of ignorance and animal like mindset of territorial gangs of hooligans.

As we celebrate Efren Penaflorida being hailed as a CNN Hero we also need to realize that it is a clear indictment of a failed educational system. Our government and educational institution has failed and continuously fail our youths to bring them out of ignorance. So massive that an army of volunteers growing to 10,000 strong facing an almost insurmountable task due to lack of funding for an effective educational system exacerbated by widespread corruption.

In a nation so wrought with scandals from so called leaders of questionable integrity there is a natural longing for heroes and for lack of people in high places to make us proud, it does not help that we confused celebrities for a hero. Our thirst for good deeds amidst a coterie of greedy shameless politicians robbing us blind will naturally declare even a celebrity who gets paid millions of dollars for his achievement as a hero is nothing but a misguided and confused hero worship. This makes me wonder if we produce a world cockfight champion, will we parade complete with a marching band and give a hero’s welcome to that cock too.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy and glad for what Manny Pacquiao has achieved and his place in the annals of the world of boxing, a feat unsurpassed in Asia. I am happy to see rags to riches story from a former street hustler forced to make a living at a young age and to see where he is at is indeed his personal heroic achievement. Of course that is extra ordinarily admirable, but what makes Efren’s achievement so great is it can not just be emulated but can also be duplicated in geometric proportion. Now how many world boxing champion can Manny Pacquiao produce assuming he takes the route taken by Efren “Kuya Ef!” Penaflorida Jr.? If there is anything that is to be emulated if we can call it that is the reverse when it comes to Pacquiao trying to emulate his politician friends to be like them? Not exactly a heroic or a smart thing to do, why wallow in the muck when one is already out of it?

So what is the big deal when Saranggani public officials do not join and organize a circus like parade to give Pacquiao a hero’s welcome? Minvelez Gulle one of Pacquiao’s adviser believes our boxing idol deserves the “respect” that the officials of Saranggan failed to do and thus lacks “political finesse,” say what now? No streamers were seen at the Capitol building and not a single government official showed up for the circus when Pacquiao should be revered este his homecoming should be treated beyond politics.

Heck, Pacquiao moved and registered to vote in Saranggani because he knew there is no way he can win in General Santos City against Darlene Antonio-Custodio. His political intentions are so obvious and Gulle is trying to sell the idea of beyond politics is fooling himself and others and clearly a cheap shot. While I really don’t care about his political opponent billionaire Roy Chiongbian of Gloria Arroyo’s Palaka Party this foolish bickering is just silly and a boxing hero on a trek to personality and patronage politics is not exactly a heroic direction worthy of emulation.

There is no doubt that Pacquiao's fight finds people so united in rooting for his victory even criminals and terrorist kidnap for ransom entrepreneurs masquerading as Jihad virgin seeking warriors takes a break to watch the fight. Now all that is good if Pacquiao can only elevate this "unity" towards nation building instead of united in escaping the harse realities of pathetic state of Philippine politics. What good is this "unity" when after the fight we are still in the muck and not much has change? Worse our idol that "unifies us" believes running for public office to follow in the footsteps of Chavit Singson and Lito Atienza is not exactly very unifying.

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