Ο Κόσμος του Barry Gusi (Report in Greek)
A few years ago, a number of prominent individuals in the Philippines, with encouragement and support from various quarters in and out of their country, undertook a worthy initiative. They established a foundation, which annually recognizes significant contributions by individuals from all countries of the globe towards world peace.
They are not seeking to receive any awards for their efforts. On the contrary they are the award-givers. What they get in return is the prospect, coupled with the satisfaction this prospect gives, that by honoring and showcasing achievements of peace seekers and humanitarians they encourage many others to follow on their footsteps.
In simple terms, their rational seems to be that the more individuals engage in the promotion of activities that unite people of diverse ethnic, religious, social and economic backgrounds, the greater are the chances for real peace on our planet.
Granted, their initiative unfolds in Asia, an area for which I only have a fascination and very few personal experiences. The only places of that continent that I have ever set foot on are Ankara and the Asian side of Istanbul, which I visited several times with my VOA Turkish counterpart and long time friend Taclan Suerdem, in the years when both of us were very actively involved, along with some colleagues from both sides of the Aegean, in what became known as the Greek-Turkish rapprochement initiative.
Although I lack expertise in matters Asian, I decided to bring you today the story of the Philippine noblemen mentioned at the beginning of the show because world peace is everybody’s business and knows no national boundaries.
One of these noblemen is Ambassador Barry Gusi. He spoke to me by phone from Manila. This is how our conversation went.
G. Bistis: Ambassador Barry Gusi, thank you for taking the time to be with us today. It is indeed a great pleasure welcoming you to this Voice of America program. You are the Chairman of a prestigious institution, a foundation that aspires to make our world a better place by recognizing individuals who have promoted human rights and peace. Tell us about the Gusi Peace Prize Foundation and the work of your father who inspired its establishment.
B. Gusi: The Gusi Peace Prize Foundation is known to be the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. The Foundation gives awards for scientific discovery, politics, academe, performing arts and economics as well as for cinematic excellence, journalism and many more categories. We honor individuals who are involved in activities for peace worldwide and for the purpose of unity in human endeavors.
G. Bistis: The Foundation was established after your father, correct?
B. Gusi: Yes, it was established after my father.
G. Bistis: Tell us a little bit about him.
B. Gusi: My father was a war guerilla, a captain who fought in WWII against Japanese oppression in Asia. He was a Philippine hero turn politician. He became a mayor in a small province in the southern Tagalog region of the Philippines. He was also a champion of human rights. He defended a lot of people who were deprived and abused socially. He was a real fighter for the cause of humanity, loved his country and died as a recognized hero of the entire Philippines.
G. Bistis: As I understand it you mother, Madame Teodora, has also been very active helping underprivileged members of our society, at least in your country, the Philippines. Growing up with her, you had the opportunity to witness all that. You saw her helping orphaned and abused children, providing comfort to the sick and the unemployed. What influence her example had on the development of your character?
B. Gusi: I have constantly seen at our home a lot of people from different places seeking the assistance of my mother. I have seen my mother working for the sick, helping them financially and sheltering them. I cannot believe what I have seen. Growing up and in my travels worldwide I copied the model of my mother, trying to help and to be a true symbol of human compassion not only in my country but also in the whole world. I have seen in my mother a personality of courage, a personality of wanting to help the people. She was a great contributing factor for the changes of my nation. She was a symbol of help for the people. She thought of the people more than she thought of herself. She thought of the country more than she thought of herself. When my mother died I took it upon me to continue what she had done for this nation and even to expand that work for the benefit of other nations, all over the world, aspiring to do kind of what Mahatma Gandhi has done for India.
G. Bistis: I presume the establishment of the Gusi Peace Prize must have been a major undertaking. Has your family accomplished that single-handedly or did you get any support from other quarters with similar visions and missions?
B. Gusi: In the beginning my father and mother worked hard for that but since I was the only son who had traveled around the world and who had developed good global contacts among humanitarian circles I solicited their assistance. A lot of them offered to help. I did receive support from many who are genuinely concerned for peace and for humanity.
G. Bistis: Who have been some of the most prominent recipients of the Gusi Award? I know the list must be long but just give us a few names as examples and indicate why they were selected for the honor.
B. Gusi: Well, one of them is Her Majesty the Queen of Palau, a small country in the Pacific (part of the Oceania group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean, southeast of the Philippines) for her untiring work for her natives’ rights, for women’s rights and for the protection of ecosystem and biodiversity. She was honored along with the President of Palau. Both of them were awarded the Gusi Peace Prize for the protection of women’s rights and for the protection of ecosystem and biodiversity.
Also Iichiroh Ohhira, a renowned scientist from Japan, who conducted the research on the lactic acid bacteria. President Fidel Ramos of the Philippines for his statesmanship. They are among the most important people who received the Gusi Peace Prize. Also from the United States, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and the Governor of Guam (Mr. Goutierrez). They are among the most important laureates of the Gusi Peace Prize but of course every recipient is important. They are all important but you asked me to name a few…
G. Bistis: I know it is difficult to single people out but we only needed a few to…
B. Gusi: Another one is Dr. Ioannis Lyras, from your country of origin, Greece, who has been involved in a humanitarian effort in Greece. He has been acclaimed here in Asia, especially in the Philippines, for his contributions to surgery in Greece.
G. Bistis: Ambassador Gusi as Chairman of the Board what is your vision of the Gusi Foundation? What is it that you want it to accomplish and how close do you believe you are in attaining your goals?
B. Gusi: Well, my goals are being attained in an excellent manner. The Gusi Peace Prize in the future will come to mean more than even the Nobel Prize because it is not only acclaimed but people all over the world would like to share this honor for it really speaks for peace and humanitarian endeavor. It speaks for the unity of the entire world. So, the Gusi Peace Prize is there, it is moving and it is going up. Whatever the difficulties in the future I leave them in the hands of God because I believe that the Gusi Peace Prize is working to the blessings of the Devine providence.
My vision is to continue to work for peace around the world, to protect the human rights, to be a voice for the needy, for the abused, for those deprived and those humiliated. The Gusi Peace Prize will work for that as long as I live and as long as I have the courage and the life that God gave me. The Gusi Peace Price will live on for as long as there is sincerity, there is honesty, there is integrity and there is a good intention (among its recipients) in helping for human equality for this world, the only place we have to live and need to protect. The mission is to help, to give social justice, to create a peace and unity in our world and to make our world a better place to live.
G. Bistis: Ambassador Barry Gusi, thank you very much for accepting our invitation to be with us today and to discuss the work of your Foundation. I sincerely wish you would reach your noble goal of promoting peace in the world, for it is actually the same as the number one goal of the broadcasting organization I represent, the Voice of America.
Good day from Washington.