“Victory for the Philippines” as INC sets 2 new Guinness records for worldwide benefit walk

WWW_2GuinnessRecordsMANILA, Philippines — “Congratulations!  You are now officially amazing, again!”

With this declaration, Guinness world records official adjudicator Kirsty Bennett announced Sunday, February 16, that the Iglesia Ni Cristo now had set two new world records for its “Worldwide Walk” for Yolanda survivors held on Saturday, February 15, coinciding with the 100th day since the super typhoon struck Central Philippines.

The first Guinness record set on February 15 was for the largest charity walk in a single venue involving “validated” 175,509 participants in Manila.  The second Guinness record achieved by the INC was for “the largest charity walk in 24 hours in multiple venues” with more than half a million participants worldwide – or 519,221 walkathon delegates — that was an altogether new Guinness world record, Bennett announced Sunday.

“Yesterday (Feb. 15), the Iglesia Ni Cristo set the Guinness World Record title for the largest charity walk in Manila.  Today it is time to find out if the Church has set a new Guinness world title for the largest charity walk in 24 hours, multiple venues,” Bennett said Sunday, Feb. 16 in a press conference held after tabulating and validating results of the INC’s Worldwide Walk from 135 sites across the globe, the last of which was in Hawaii.

“Thirteen time zones. Twenty-nine countries. Twenty-four hours.  When that final person reached the finish line in the Hawaii-Pacific time zone, the Iglesia Ni Cristo reached that number.  And that number is 519,221,” Bennet announced amid the applause of INC officials and members who gathered inside a room at Diamond Hotel for the Guinness announcement.

Bennett, who herself expressed amazement at what had happened, said this achievement of two world records in just one event by one single organization was simply “phenomenal”  as the INC worldwide walk spanned 135 sites in 13 time zones across the globe.  The two new Guinness world records set by the INC for the fund-raising walk for Yolanda survivors, were also the first time a world record had been set that involved helping “Yolanda” victims.

The new Guinness world records were received by INC minister Glicerio B. Santos Jr., the Church’s General Auditor.  He said all these happened “because of God’s will.”

Una sa lahat ay pinapasalamatan natin ang ating Panginoon Diyos.  Sumasampalataya tayong lahat na ang lahat ng tagumpay ng Iglesia Ni Cristo lalo na sa kasalukuyang panahon ay ang Diyos ang may pasya. (First of all, we’d like to thank our Lord God.  We faithfully believe that all these victories of the Church of Christ, particularly in these days, was God’s decision), ” said Santos who also serves as president of the INC’s socio-civic arm, the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, Inc., which organized the record-breaking charity walk upon instructions from the INC Executive Minister, Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo.

Ito ang mga panahon na gusto ng Diyos na makilala ng buong mundo ang Iglesia Ni Cristo.  (These are the days that God wants the Church of Christ to be known by the whole world),” he said.  This year, 2014, is the Church’s Centennial Year.  The INC will be celebrating its 100th year on July 27, where a worldwide celebration of the Church’s string of victories would be done.

Santos also stressed that this was not just a cause for celebration for the INC, but for all Filipinos as well, saying “this is a victory of the Philippines.”

Hindi lamang ang bawat kaanib ng Iglesia Ni Cristo ang dapat magdiwang, kundi ang bawat isang Pilipino ang dapat magdiwang sa pagkakamit ng world record na ito. Ito ay tagumpay ng Pilipinas.  (It is not just each member of the Church of Christ who should celebrate, but also each Filipino, with the achievement of this world record.  This is a victory for the Philippines),” he said.

The Philippines, through the INC, broke the record previously held by Singapore for the “largest charity walk in a single venue”.  The number to beat was 77,500 participants in Singapore’s  “The New Paper Big Walk 2000” which was set on May 21, 2000.  The February 15, 2014 Manila walk of the INC’s “worldwide walk for those affected by Typhoon Yolanda” had a validated count of 175,509 representing the tabulated and inspected number of wristbands collected at the finish line from walkers who passed the Guinness requirements.  A walker should have walked the entire 1.6 kilometer requirement of the worldwide walk’s Manila site (although the finish line is placed at the 1.9 kilometer mark), particularly along Roxas Boulevard.  He should not have stopped to take a rest; he should be a “registered walked” and should not be less than eight years old; and he should be walking independently and should not be supported by anyone while walking.  Only INC members are allowed to pay the required registration fee.

For the second Guinness record, the INC needed to break the record of Canada for the largest charity walk done in multiple venues within 24 hours.  This involved 231,635 participants who walked for a minimum of one kilometer at 1,011 different locations in Canada on Oct. 2, 2007.

But the INC record of 519,221 not only beat this, it had also set an altogether new Guinness world record for the largest charity walk done in multiple sites within 24 hours. The INC worldwide walk was done in 135 sites involving 29 countries and spanning 13 different time zones across the globe, Bennett said as she explained the new Guinness World Record set by the INC.

“(The INC record) is a new Guinness world record title for the largest charity walk in 24 hours in multiple venues. It is a title wherein that record has to be attempted by one organization. It needs to start and end in one time zone, and it can take place in different countries all around the world,” Bennett explained.

“So at any one time in that 24 hour period, a walker needs to be walking.  And in this case, that walker is a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo,” she said during the press conference yesterday.

“I could not stress enough the commitment, organization and passion required to achieve a record of this magnitude,” said Bennett, citing the “extremely strict” rules of Guinness and the volume of information that were involved in the INC Worldwide Walk for Yolanda.

In the Philippines, there were a total of 85 sites for the benefit walk that was “done simultaneously” for Yolanda survivors.

Abroad, 50 sites across 13 time zones held the fund-raising walk participated in by nationalities from 28 countries who were all INC member-delegates. Some of the sites of the original 55 venues had to be merged because of raging snowstorms or extremely heavy rainfall in some areas, said Dr. Sergie P. Santos, one of the organizers of the charity walk, as he explained the reduction of sites abroad.

But despite all these, he said, the worldwide walk was achieved as all of the participants – all INC delegates from the church’s congregations all over the world – “wanted to show their unity” with the INC Church Administration.

Bennett called the worldwide charity walk of INC members as “simply amazing.”

“It’s amazing to see so many people take part in such an important cause.  And Guinness World Records is very, very proud to be part of it,” she said.

Bennett said she “constantly talked with independent witnesses, auditors, timekeepers, stewards and the technical departments” in validating the results of the worldwide charity walk of the INC, which incidentally was also a first of its kind.  This was because the current record holder for a charity walk with multiple sites done within 24 hours was done in only one country – Canada.

But with the INC’s worldwide walk, church members from different locations all around the world walked at around 7 a.m. (based on their respective time zones) in 135 sites, even if they had to plod though snow and ice, as what had happened in Japan,  South Korea, and some parts of the US and Canada.

The first one to start the walk was New Zealand. Participants there started their charity walk at 8 a.m. their time, or 3 a.m. Philippine standard time.  The last to walk were the INC delegates from Hawaii who started the walkathon Sunday dawn, Feb. 16, Philippine time.

Auditors from the firm of SGV (Sycip, Gorres, Velayo and Company) monitored and validated the counting of the Philippine results of the walkathon.  In sites abroad, an “independent witness” who was a respected member of the community and a professional, monitored and validated the conduct of the walk.  This “independent witness” should be a non-member of the Church, based on the Guinness requirement.  He should have signed a statement, indicating his profession, and detailing the walk site he had observed.  He should also submit a photocopy of his professional identification card or details to the Guinness adjudicator stationed in Manila.  Time-stamped photographs and video with the ingrained “metadata” of all of the walk sites all over the world had to be inspected and validated too.

The results of the walk in the US and Canada sites were validated by the firm Sabocorp and Co., Llp., an international auditing firm based in Los Angeles, California.

The INC organizers, however, clarified that not all of those who registered from the 29 countries, were able to participate in the worldwide walkathon.  In the Manila site alone, police estimated that the crowd occupying a large stretch of Roxas Boulevard reached 1.5 million as of 10 a.m. February 15, the day of the INC’s historic Worldwide Walk.

This was the fifth time that the INC had broken a Guinness world record.

The first three Guinness records broken by the church organization was on July 7, 2012, during the INC International Aid to Humanity held at the Parola compound in Tondo, Manila where the INC conducted a whole day medical-dental and relief mission for the poor residents in the area as part of the 98th year commemoration of the INC’s registration in the Philippines on July 27, 1914.

The INC broke three Guinness world records on that day (July 7, 2012) — the largest dental health check, the biggest number of blood pressure (BP) readings taken in eight hours, and the most numerous blood glucose level (BGL) tests, also conducted in eight hours.  (Eagle News Service)