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    The province of Cavite is known as the birthplace of Philippine heroes who have shaped our history, most notably General Emilio Aguinaldo. Today, it continues to mold modern day heroes, who have chosen to Be Partof the Revolutionto make it a better place to live in.

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    At the My City, My SM launch in SM Rosario in Cavite:  Prime Minister Cesar Virata,  Emilio “Orange” Aguinaldo IV,   Mutya ng Pilipinas 1996 Sherylle Santarin-de Dios, 2009 CNN Hero of the Year Efren Penaflorida, and Rosario Mayor Jose  “Nonong” Ricafrente, Jr. with SM’s Millie Dizon.

    Most inspiring of all is Efren Penaflorida, who made Filipinos proud when he was named the CNN Hero of the Yearlast November 2009, as part of the news network’s program to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to help others.

    Rising above his family’s poverty, Efren started a youth group at the age 16 aimed at diverting students from street gangs towards community activism and personal development. The Dynamic Teen Company started as a friendship club with an aim of providing youth awareness projects, talent, and self- development activities, and community services.

    In partnership with Club 8586, they eventually pioneered the idea of the “pushcart classroom” wherein pushcarts stocked with school materials to recreate school settings to teach children from the slums.

    Despite the honors he has received, Efren has remained close to his roots, continuing to do his share for the children of his hometown. Here, he brings us on a rare tour of the Cavite of his childhood and his advocacies, the Cavite of his SM.


    “Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are all one great tapestry. Each person has a 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.”

    An excerpt from Efren’s acceptance speech at the CNN Hero of the Year gala event. He is shown here at the DTC headquarters.


    “Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve.  As I always tell my co volunteers . . . you are the change that you dream as I am that change that I dream, and collectively, we are the change that the world needs to be.”

    In 2007, DTC launched the We are the Change campaign to inspire people to be the catalyst for change, believing that real change happens when we begin to touch one soul and change one heart at a time. Shown in photo with Efren are DTC President Alexandra Oliva, Zhenkie, Joy Tubianosa, Anthony Rovert Arquero, Rose Shelle Alcantara, Michael Advincula, Melanie Bonto, Leslie Mai Saulog, and Wilfredo de la Cruz.

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    Efren revisits his schools, the Julian Felipe Elementary School and the Cavite National High School. Assistance by local scholarships like the Children’s helper and Club 8586 enabled him to attend school.

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    “Growing up in Cavite is for me a treasured memory. Even if I spent most of my life in the slums, I was able to spend my elementary years in a school where Julian Felipe, the composer of the Philippine National Anthem also studied. I was able to spend my high school days in one of the oldest secondary schools in the country, the Cavite National High School, which was founded in 1902.”


    “My mentor Kuya Bon changed my perspective about a lot of things.  He taught me to make a significant change in every life I cross paths with.  This motivated me to pursue education to be able to reach more and more kids by means of educating those who have been born poor like me, and underprivileged children who have lost their love of learning.”

    Giving Back. Efren at the site of the future Kalingain Batang Mahirap Center, a two storey 270 square meter building that will serve beneficiaries of the Kalingain Batang Mahirap Foundation, who are kariton classroom students and members of Club 8586.  It is also envisioned to serve as a halfway house.

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    “If I would bring guests around Cavite, I would give them a taste of Caviteno hospitality through our food. I love the halo-halo of Digman, the delicacies of Samala, the coffee of Amadeo, and the pancit at Aurora’s. I also like the Chinese, Filipino, and American food served at New Chefoo.”

    Efren and friends at New Chefoo with owner and DTC volunteer Jerome Vincent Chin; some of his favorite delicacies at Samala.

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    “What I like about SM is its accessibility and variety of stores. It’s one city intended for shopping. It has everything a shopper would need. I believe that SM has become the shopping and entertainment center of Çavite.”

    SM City Bacoor, one of the four SM malls in Cavite.

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    “When I am at SM I like to buy ice cream at the kiosk beside the stairs on the second floor, and to see the cute and nice pets at the pet shops. I also enjoy watching movies and hopping from one computer store to another to check on the latest gadgets.”

    Efren enjoys a day of malling at SM City Bacoor with Nobel Peace Prize finalist Emmanuel Bagual, Christian Camacho, Kesz Valdez, Joshua Trias, Shenkie Joy Tubianosa, and Kuya Bon Harnin Mata Manalaysay.