The Gawad Geny Lopez Jr., Bayaning Pilipino Awards, a project of the ABS-CBN in partnership with the Ugnayan at Tulong para sa Maralitang Pamilya (UGAT) Foundation, recently gave tribute to individuals who have made a huge difference in their communities in spite of their own challenges and difficulties, serving as inspirations to their spheres of influence. They were recognized as Napapanahong Bayani.
One of the awardees during the 2007 Gawad Geny Lopez was the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC) founded by CNN’s 2009 Hero of the Year Efren Peñaflorida, a 2004 Gawad Geny awards Youth Category finalist, who embodied the Filipino spirit of volunteerism through his pushcart classroom in Cavite. DTC is an organization that trains young children particularly the street children to become responsible, systematic and principled youth.
“Hindi hadlang ang ating edad para makaisip tayo at makagawa ng maiaambag natin sa ating lipunan para maiangat ito. Kinakailangan din natin ang pagtutulungan at pagkakaisa dahil hindi naman po kaya ng isa lamang na makagawa ng malaking pagbabago. Kinakailangan po na tayo ay nagtutulungan, nagdadamayan at nag-aangatan,” Efren Penaflorida stated. “At sa bawat isa sa atin, gaano man tayo ka- ordinaryo at kasimple ang ginagawa natin, ito ay kabayanihan. At patuloy akong naniniwala na sa puso ng bawat isa sa atin ay may bayani.
Peñaflorida already dreamed of establishing a foundation that would create a better future for the unfortunate ones during his childhood years. Armed with only a pushcart full of books and other educational materials, Peñaflorida and his team bring the classroom to children and educate them wherever they may be such as in slum areas, dumpsites and even children staying in the cemetery. He was a perfect example of an ordinary individual who gave his time and went the extra mile for people he didn’t even know.
Another set of modern day heroes emerged again recently due to the tragedy brought by typhoon Ondoy which took away hundreds of lives. Filipinos showed what stuff they’re truly made of–men and women who would risk their lives to save others. It is for this reason that the Gawad Geny once again recognized ordinary Pinoys who have done heroic acts and extraordinary deeds during this trying time.
Included in this year’s Napapanahong Bayani awardees is Rommel Mendoza, a man who helped people go to higher ground during the flood and refused to accept their monetary gifts. An equally brave soul is Roger Cabaliw, who assisted other people and who later on passed away due to leptospyrosis. A man who saved 50 senior citizens is Vicente Ordoyo, a simple person who helped them when they were trapped in a church. Also awarded was Muelmar Magallanes, an 18-year-old boy who saved 30 people in exchange for his own life. Mathew Galang saved 60 people by using only a rope, a life jacket and three containers of water. During that time when waters were rising, Catalino Mercado Jr. ingeniously created a raft using banana trees. Carlito Pabon hails from Malabon and saved approximately 50 babies, as well as children and his own mother. Brothers Joseph and Joel Salvaria encouraged and inspired other people to help and participate in the rescue operations. The only woman who was awarded was Rosalyn Alberta who freely lent her cellphone to those in need as well as provide them clean water from her own refilling station. Completing the list of Napapanahong Bayani is Eric Boquiron, the lone survivor from the highly televised group of people who rode a make-shift boat made from parts of a roof or ‘yero.’ The video captured their dangerous and heart stopping float on the flood which showed how the victims were lost one by one by the raging flood.
With these people’s stories in mind, ABS-CBN CEO and Chairman Gabby Lopez pointed out, “As we speak of heroes, we must ask–what is the essence of heroism? A hero is a person of extraordinary goodness. Through his acts of goodness whether we be direct recipients or merely observer of the acts, we are brought in touch with the innate altruism and we need to become kinder, better individuals. Our ten recipients of the Napapanahong Bayani Award our fellow Filipino Efren Peñaflorida and all the heroes we will award on November next year has moved us toward and to be a kind and good human beings.”