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"Street educator" Efren Peñaflorida of the Philippines, who provides education to underprivileged children by using kariton classrooms has been named 2009 CNN Hero of the Year, reports CNN.com. Through CNN's online competition that garnered over 2.75 million votes, Peñaflorida bested ten finalists chosen from 9,000 nominees from all over the world.
Peñaflorida won $100,000 which he will use for his work with the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC), an organization he put up to help change the lives of slum-dwelling children by diverting their attention from violent gangs and fraternities to education, community service and talent development.
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper announced Peñaflorida's win at the star-studded "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" gala at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood the night of November 21.
In his acceptance speech, Peñaflorida, who wore a Barong Tagalog with the Philippine map embroidered on his chest (designed by Rhett Eala for C2) said: "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."
The event will be aired on CNN Tribute at 0200 GMT, November 27 (9 p.m. ET/PT November 26).