In my Perspective
HEROISM, YET A BIG SLAP
By Galcoso C. Alburo
Many were delighted when a Filipino was proclaimed as the “CNN Hero of the Year” in Hollywood last November 22, 2009. Efren Penaflorida bagged the award against extraordinary people, heroic in their own ways, representing different countries. Efren emerged the winner because of his “Pushcart-classroom” which enticed the entire world. When he returned home, Malacanang Palace awarded him the highest form of recognition and citation, “The Order of Lakandula with the rank of Commandant”—a very prestigious award for heroism, yet a big spank to the Philippine government.
At the age of sixteen, Efren started his advocacy by teaching some street-children in his hometown Cavite, and it was then that he conceptualized the “Pushcart-Classroom” with the help of his colleagues known as the Dynamic Teen Company. Efren resigned in a private school where he was employed and he decided to continue his advocacy with the less fortunate children in the streets, who cannot afford the high cost of formal education. He never stops doing such thing to help children who are thirsty of the golden heritage—EDUCATION.
As I look at it, Efren’s way is such a very good deed to look up to. I salute him and his group for exerting their efforts to serve the hope of our father land in their own unique way. I am proud to say that I, among others is happy and proud of Efren’s victory but honestly, I am dismayed and sad for my countrymen especially teachers and students and of course the Philippine government, itself. Why? The “Pushcart-Classroom” symbolizes the Philippine educational system now a days! Is this what we want to show the world? Is this what we are proud of? A “Pushcart-Classroom”? Isn’t it a reflection of the government’s negligence that resulted into this multiple perennial problem?
The gesture of Malacanang to award him is indirectly annoying. Why can foreign award giving bodies recognize an ordinary Filipino’s accomplishment ahead of our own government? In that case, isn’t “The Order of Lakandula Award” just a consolation? Isn’t the award just a slap on their faces?
The “Pushcart-Classroom” merely represents our educational system at present. Unfortunately there is this ordinary person who shone in a foreign land and yet a nobody in his homeland. Thanks to the CNN for choosing Efren to receive this recognition for it uncovered the reality of the governments’ negligence or its being preoccupied with other concerns than to notice ordinary people.
There are millions of young people still hoping to attain formal education, and yet this “Pushcart-Classroom” seemingly answers their needs and thirst for knowledge. Well, it is quite better having this type of so-called classroom than to expect for nothing from these unscrupulous leaders and politicians of our times who are callous! Insensitive! They are unsympathetic of the youth and teachers’ needs for a conducive teaching-learning environment. Why don’t they think of a rightful legacy to hand down to the next generation?
Try to think of this, pushcarts are good but not here in Marikina. They are prohibited to stray along the streets because they are considered as an eyesore. I believe that pushcart-classrooms should be lessened to give way to formal schooling because I am afraid that some people may think that the former is better than the latter. Frankly speaking, pushcart-classroom is an indictment to the present educational system for having failed to address the needs of street-children. We have more time to act on it now for it is a big indignity if to our country someday there are lots of “Pushcart-Classrooms” rolling along Philippine major thoroughfares and minor streets that will symbolize our educational system and will repetitively slap the government’s face.
I am telling all these things to challenge all concerned individuals like teachers, politicians and higher authorities to shape up our educational system so we can improve our past performance to the better.