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Hails from: Cavite City, The Philippines
Known for: Building a new path.
CNN has highlighted the 28-year old Pinoy, who grew up in the slums of Cavite City, amongst their Top 10 Heroes of 2009. Peñaflorida, like many of his peers, grew up terrorized by gang violence in his community that included offenses of vandalism and rape.
In high school, he made a decision–he was going to create a different option. With three friends, Peñaflorida created a club called the Dynamic Teen Company, aspiring to “cater youth awareness projects, talent and self development activities, and community services.” Living near the dump site of his city, he eagerly developed feeding projects for the small children sent to scavenge for leftovers and rotten food there. Years of development (building awareness, training themselves as educators, staging activities and concerts) eventually led the group to become a self-sustaining education organization, and they soon obtained a pedicab to create a traveling vehicle for their educating missions.
Ten years after the launch of DTC, Peñaflorida travels weekly with the pedicab–which has been outfitted as a foldout classroom, around the city to lead classes for children 2 to 14. He is armed with armed with a team of trained teen volunteers. They also run a hygeine clinic where kids can bathe and learn to care for their teeth.
“Since 1997, an estimated 10,000 members have helped teach more than 1,500 children living in the slums. The organization supports its efforts by making and selling crafts and collecting items to recycle.”
It’s a lot of work, with slow-moving impact and very little fanfare. Yet somebody wants to do it: Efren Peñaflorida and his team of friends. What’s a little work when you’re creating real change?
In the current issue of the Pentagon’s top scholarly journal, Joint Force Quarterly, Air Force colonel Om Prakash has published an article arguing that openly gay troops do not hurt unit cohesion or combat effectiveness, calling the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy a “costly failure” and asking President Obama to find a way to repeal the ban.
The essay was selected as the winner of this year’s Secretary of Defense essay contest and was reviewed in advance of publication by the office of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the NY Times. Prakash, who works in the office of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, studied the issue while a student at the National War College. The article signals a shift in the thinking of the Pentagon’s top officials and is expected to put pressure on Obama to repeal DADT.
In “The Efficacy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Prakash reasons:
…the law as it currently stands does not prohibit homosexuals from serving in the military as long as they keep it secret. This has led to an uncomfortable value disconnect as homosexuals serving, estimated to be over 65,000, must compromise personal integrity. Given the growing gap between social mores and the law, DADT may do damage to the very unit cohesion that it seeks to protect.
Yes sir, Colonel! We couldn’t agree more.
Standing behind the Poitier building on the Sony lot in Culver City last night, I reminisced with pride about the calm, cool manner in which I once met Sidney Poitier. He shook my hand and I somehow avoided squealing, then followed up with charming conversation and gentle laughter, holding in my excitement for the first moment he wasn’t within shouting distance. An hour later, I totally fucking freaked out and called everyone I could think of to brag. But the running phrase in every call was: “Well you see, I tend not to get starstruck, so I…”
Mid-flashback, I spotted Dan Choi, one of DISGRASIAN’s favorite Amazians, who was in Los Angeles last night to present the press screening of Brave New Foundation’s latest installation of the In Their Boots series: “Silent Partners.” “Partners” is a documentary short (watch a preview here) about the same-sex partners of three American service members whose lives are shrouded in secrecy because of our military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy–heartbreaking and difficult to watch, but important and incredibly beautiful.
I immediately turned into a bumbling idiot, gushing over Choi’s awesomeness and DISGRASIAN’s deep (and clearly very clunky) admiration of his good work. Witnesses have told me that I barfed out words like “flurferful” and “prowb,” possibly even referred to myself as “Dinana.” Whoops.
Still, despite my semi-creepy enthusiasm, the wondrous (and completely adorable) Dan Choi humored me. He even spared some of his early West Point knowledge, teaching me how to properly salute (this actually took awhile):
Until I got it right:
Is it wrong to have a crush on a 12 year-old kid? If so, we don’t want to be right.
We don’t know if Kevin Lin is going to grow up to be a burnout raver or the next Spielberg, but we’ll be keeping an eye on him. You can, too, here.
Known for: a memorable stand-up act that grabs laughs internationally from Bangalore to NYC, his performance in OutLaugh with our lady Margaret Cho, a top-ten nominasian for desiclub.com’s 10 Sexiest men of 2007. He’s Indian hailing from New Delhi, and an Amazian Gaysian… what’s not to love?
See for yourself:
After a jaunt Down Unda, Margaret Cho’s new stand-up tour Beautiful hits Stateside tomorry. Click here for tour dates and ticket info.
It’s no secret that we think Margaret Cho rules. She is, for us, a personal and professional hero. Not only do we love her, we want to be her–bold, brave, loudmouthed, political, funny, a gay icon, a chick with a dick, and proud wearer of pasties. (Kidding on that last part–we wouldn’t be caught dead in pasties). That she decided last week not to appear on Ellen so as not to cross the writers’ picket line just makes her that much cooler. Thanks, Margaret, for breaking down so many barriers in your career and, in this case, respecting one that really matters.
Occupation: Food blogger
Known for: rameniac.com, an online ramen-noodle encyclopedia, insightful reviews of the top L.A. ramenerias, eating 18 bowls of ramen in 14 days, reprzenting rockin’ Asian-American bloggers.
Speaking of bloggers, did you know that there are 47 million in China, and more than half are women? We love you, our blogging bruthas and sistas!
Occupation: Music Supervisor
Known for: Creating the ambient landscapes of Thank You for Smoking and Me and You and Everyone We Know and making our favorite part of Juno–the bitchin’ soundtrack–which felt like a mix tape we would’ve made for someone we had a fat crush on. Some of the tracks dearest to us include Sonic Youth’s rendition of The Carpenters’ “Superstar,” Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes,” and the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Sticking with You.”
Click here to buy the soundtrack and put it on when you’re sick of playing those Christmas LPs.
Known for: Becoming the first Asian Idol winner, beating out 5 contestants from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and India who had all won Idol contests in their home countries, reprzntin’ for Singapore…yeow!
On a slightly more somber note, Hady’s win reminds us that there will be nothing on television in ’08 but American Idol. Perhaps now would be a good time to start a new hobby, like reading or soapmaking.
Oh, bah. As I’m sure you all know by now, DISGRASIAN does not fancy Masi Oka’s character on Heroes–Hiro–we don’t believe he’s much of a Japanese hero at all. And ever since the beginning, we ‘ve sniffed our noses at his fisting, blubbery nonsense.
Now this little guy, with his shrunken/nonexistent ears and soft little tummy…
…HE just stood up for the first time, with nary a fist in the air.
Now that’s a hero. Sigh.
Occupation: Wide Receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Known for: an ever-present star smile, speaking up for ethnic minorities in South Korea, humbly accepting Super Bowl XL MVP in ’06 , kicking arse every time he rocks the Pro Bowl, do-gooding.
Oh, and if you watched last night’s Steelers victory over the Bengals, you witnessed Ward making his 64th career touchdown reception, beating Hall-of-Famer John Stallworth’s 20 year-old record. I know what you’re saying… “Randy Moss who?”