By Loui Galicia, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Pinoys in The Hague, Netherlands are beaming with pride because it is where Filipino teen Kesz won the 2012 International Children’s Peace Prize.
Filipinos have conveyed their joy and admiration for him.
Soldiers said they have nothing but respect for Kesz.
“It’s a very prestigious moment not only for him but for our countrymen here in the Hague. It is very well publicized here in The Hague and we’re very proud as Filipinos,” Col. Carlos Tabo said.
For Sgt. Mel Lasaten, no words are enough to express his feelings. “Kesz, congratulations, my best salute,” Lasaten said.
Other Pinoys also admired and appreciated the rare royal treatment that the Dutch gave to Kesz.
“Congratulations Kesz. Natutuwa ako dahil na-experience mo yung isang bagay na hindi nararanasan ng lahat ng Pilipino na bigyan ka ng royal treatment ditto sa Holland,” Belle Lasaten said.
Even the outgoing diplomat from the Philippine Embassy is overjoyed.
“You brought a great honor to our country and we the Filipinos in Holland are very proud that a Filipino has coveted this very prestigious prize,” said outgoing Minister Counselor Frank Cimafranca, who has been promoted to ambassador and will be moving to Dubai next week.
But more than for these Pinoys, the story of Kesz from a street child to a hero has the most sublime and rewarding effect for a Filipino businessman.
Ronald Gavino couldn’t contain his happiness because Kesz is close to his heart.
According to Gavino, it was about 4 years ago when he watched “Umagang Kay Ganda” on The Filipino Channel and saw a young boy who was asking for a pair of shoes so he can go to school.
Call it fate, said Gavino, that he was already booked to go to the Philippines that time.
Through ABS-CBN, they were able to contact Kesz and with KB Manalaysay, were able to pick up Kesz in Cavite and brought him to Manila where Gavino finally met the young boy who was then 9 years old.
“Nagshopping kami at ang nakakatuwa doon, me dalawa pa siyang kasamang barkada at nakiusap [si Kesz] kung maari ko ring bigyan ng sapatos,” Gavino said.
Gavino was impressed at the selflessness of the boy who was still called Cris.
“Very unselfish. Batang-bata, nine years old. Pati mga kabarkada niya, para makapasok lang, kahit hiyang-hiya siya, pinakiusap na ibili ko din ng sapatos,” Gavino said.
Even the day after Kesz received the award, Gavino still was unsure if the boy is actually Cris.
It was only on Friday, after he talked to Manalaysay, Efren Penafloria and Kesz himself on the phone inviting him to see them in Amsterdam that he is finally convinced that the boy indeed is Cris.
“Ang biro nga nila si Kesz, eto paborito Kes-zo. Sa Wednesday, dadalhan ko sila ng keso bago sila bumalik sa Pilipinas,” Gavino said.
Because of Kesz, Filipinos and the Philippines became popular in Holland because he is all over the the Dutch newspapers and television news programs.
Even students in the Dutch primary schools were able to watch a news broadcast on their smart boards about Kesz the day after the awarding ceremony.
“Well, on Thursday afternoon, they us showed on school TV about a young boy who won a prize for helping children. I told my classmates that he is a Filipino,” Grade 8 student Lauren Loveranes said.