INC smashes Guinness Record
175,000 Join ‘Worldwide Walk’; P43.75 M Raised For ‘Yolanda’ Survivors
Manila, Philippines — Tens of thousands of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) members yesterday took to the streets in Manila in a charity walk to raise funds for survivors of super-typhoon “Yolanda” and officially broke the world record for the largest charity walk in one site.
Kirstie Bennett, a Guinness World Record adjudicator who flew to the country to oversee the tallying, officially declared the INC’s “Worldwide Walk” as the largest charity walk done in one site, with 175,000 participants. It broke the record set by Singapore’s “The New Paper Big Walk” in May, 2000, with 77,500 participants.
“The current record for this is at 77,500. Today, its 175,000,” Bennett said amid cheers from the crowd gathered at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.
“You are officially amazing,” added Bennett.
•Police Count: 1.5M
While the official count was placed at 175,000, police estimated the crowd at 1.5 million.
Bro. Edwil Zabala, minister of the gospel, had earlier said that the INC event also aimed to set another world record on the biggest number of participants in a worldwide walk (multiple sites).
The current record holder for the biggest number of participants in a worldwide walk is Canada, which involved 231,635 participants who walked for a minimum of one kilometer at 1,011 various locations around Canada on October 2, 2007.
The result for the second Guinness attempt has yet not been released as of press time.
The Sycip Gorres Velayo & Co observed the counting of the participants by the INC.
Leo Matignas, SGV spokesman, said those who joined the walk in Manila were counted through the wristband that the organizers provided.
Participants put their wristband at a drop box at the finish line.
Zabala, meantime, stressed that the primary purpose of their event is to raise extra funds to help Yolanda victims in Eastern Visayas.
“We would like to collect extra funds in order to continue helping the victims of the super-typhoon and the primary beneficiaries would be the members of the church (INC) in the Central Visayas region but that does not mean that they would be the only ones who would benefit from the funds generated because we would do the same even for the non-members,” he said.
The INC official said the funds raised, through the P250 registration fee of the participants, will be used for stress debriefing services, housing, permanent livelihood activities and projects for the typhoon victims.
With 175,000 participants officially counted and each paying P250 registration fee, the INC event would have raised at least P43.75 million.
“We also want to call attention to the approximately four million victims not just the members of the INC so we are holding it worldwide. Hopefully, if you have been helping before, this will encourage you to continue helping,” said Zabala.
All the participants bought special white T-shirts, costing P250 to wear during the march, with all proceed from sales of the garment being donated to help those in need, pensioner Laodiseo Santos, 78, told AFP.
“I paid for this T-shirt to help our countrymen rebuild their homes… Some of our wealthier members purchased in bulk,” he said.
The retired cashier, his five grown-up sons and daughters as well as several grandchildren completed a three-kilometer walk on Roxas Boulevard in late morning.
INC Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo approved recently the holding of the activity in cooperation with its socio-civic arm, Felix Y. Manalo Foundation.
A circular was read in local congregations of the INC all over the world on January 11 and 12, announcing to all church members worldwide the plan to hold the event dubbed as the “Iglesia Ni Cristo Worldwide Walk for those Affected by Typhoon Yolanda.”
“This activity aims not only to remember our fellowmen who were affected by the severe calamity that struck the Philippines, but most of all to help them recover from their current miserable condition,” read the INC circular.
Yesterday’s walk for a cause was staged in 85 sites in the Philippines and 55 more sites around the globe – 34 in the USA; six in Europe; 10 in Australia/New Zealand; and five in Asia.
In Metro Manila, the walk started at the grounds of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on Roxas Boulevard all the way to the Rizal Park.
The activity is just one of the events of the INC for its centennial celebration on July 27. (With reports from AFP and Anna Marie Sanchez)