A Washington-based senior advisor to Hogan & Hartson is in the Philippines today being awarded an international peace prize alongside a U.S. congressman, a world-famous boxer and a Tony award-winning actress.
President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines will present Christine Warnke with the Gusi Peace Prize in economics and humanitarianism at a banquet in Manila.
Warnke is one of this year’s 20 international recipients recognized for “working toward the attainment of peace and respect for human life and dignity,” according to the prize’s Web site. The awards cover such fields as science, sports, performing arts and politics.
Warnke, a government affairs advisor at Hogan & Hartson, is recognized for her involvement with humanitarian, business and health initiatives, particularly her work in Africa, said prize spokesman George Bistis. Bistis said he has been familiar with her work for years, and referenced Warnke’s efforts delivering wheelchairs to South Africa, building a hospital in Congo and fighting human trafficking in Romania among her accomplishments.
“There were so many countries,” Bistis said. “It was very impressive work that she has done, particularly for human rights, dignity and equality among sexes.”
Warnke, a native Washingtonian, works with several nonprofit organizations and said she was drawn to this work early on after spending part of her childhood in Sao Paolo, Brazil. “Growing up as a child and seeing it and watching kids on the street growing up in cardboard boxes really impacted me,” she said. “There are people living this way. Really destitute.”
Her next projects will be helping deliver wheelchairs to the Philippines (with help from Deepak Chopra) and encourage Angolans to register their children at birth so they can be citizens of the country, she said.
Meantime, she added, it’s rewarding to be honored among a class of noted humanitarians. “You feel like you’re among Mother Teresas here,” she said. “It’s very humbling.”
The only other American laureate this year is Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), who is recognized in the category of legislation for introducing into Congress the Filipino World War II Veterans Act, which extended equal veteran status to Filipino veterans. The act passed in February as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Among this year’s other recipients are seven-time world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao; Tony award-winning Philippine singer and actress Lea Salonga; Russian painter Alexey Steele; Princess Fuziah Raza Uda of Malaysia; and Ali Nasuh Mahruki, the first Muslim and the first Turk to climb Mt. Everest.
The Gusi Peace Prize is named for Capt. Gemeniano Javier Gusi, a Filipino guerrilla who fought against Japan during World War II before becoming a politician and a human rights activist. It’s administered by the nonprofit Gusi Peace Prize Foundation.
Former laureates include actor Anthony Quinn, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), and noted forensic scientist Henry Lee, of TV show Forensic Files fame. For a complete list of this year's and past winner, visit the prize’s Web site.