WHILE most superheroes fly, this one prefers to keep his feet on the ground.

Efren “Kuya F” Peñaflorida Jr., a former “boy from the slums” turned “hero” due to a recent award given him by international news organization CNN last year, recently stopped by Cebu as a guest speaker in a three-day seminar by the Volunteers Services Organization (VSO), a nationwide peace volunteers group. Efren is CNN’s 2009 Hero of the Year.

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During his talk, Efren recalls a few tidbits about his challenging childhood. Once a doubter of the benefits of pursuing education during his younger years, crossing paths with the Club 8586 Inc. volunteer group and his then and still-present mentor, Harnin “Kuya Bonn” Manalayssay, changed his outlook on education tremendously.

Efren now leads his own volunteers’ group, the Dynamic Teen Company. With this, he would soon have the “pushcart classroom,” a concept that takes a “classroom setting” to the streets itself. This one-of-a-kind approach to bringing learning where resources are scarce—is now being “replicated” not only all across the country but the entire world.

With or without the pushcart classroom in our hands, here he shares four points on how to become a hero oneself.

“One is never too poor to think of ways to help others,” he says. Because of this thought, the pushcart classroom was born.

It obviously costs a lot less than building classrooms and the like. Still, the mission to educate youngsters continues.

“One is never too young to give back to society,” he adds.

Efren recalls that one time during their volunteer work, they found a four-year-old kid who spent the night in open tombs instead of going home since the youngster was afraid his parents might abuse him if he didn’t have any returns from begging to turn over that night. That same kid now helps in volunteer work.

“One is never too strong to do things on his own.”

Although Efren now is under the spotlight for his works, he acknowledges that none of this would be possible without his mentor consistently by his side, Kuya Bonn of Club 8586.

“We need help and encouragement. We need collaboration; the pushcart classroom is an example of this. We’re always collaborating with other organizations especially with training.

We have to build each other up, rather than bring each other down. How can we achieve positive change towards society if we don’t help one another?” the man shares.

Lastly, “one is never too ordinary to be a hero. You just have to open your eyes wide. Look inside you, search your heart—there’s a hero waiting to be unleashed.”