Huge Filipino charity walk breaks Guinness records

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine Christian sect has broken two records for organizing the largest charity walk in an effort to raise funds for survivors of last year's Typhoon Haiyan, a Guinness World Records official said Sunday.

Guinness adjudicator Kirsty Bennett said 175,509 members of the Iglesia ni Cristo took part in Saturday's record-setting walk along a scenic Manila bayside boulevard. The previous record was set in Singapore in 2000 when 77,500 people walked to promote healthy living.

Bennett told a news conference in Manila on Sunday that Iglesia ni Cristo members in 28 other countries also held similar walks over the weekend, with the number of participants reaching 519,221 worldwide — a record for the largest charity walk in multiple venues. The previous record was set in Canada, where 231,635 people took part in a charity walk at various sites in 2007.

"It is a huge achievement," Bennett said before presenting a Guinness certificate to the Christian sect's leaders as the group's members applauded.

An Iglesia spokesman, Edwil Zabala, said his group organized the walk to raise funds to be used in constructing homes and providing livelihoods to thousands of homeless Typhoon Haiyan survivors still living in tents and makeshift homes more than three months after the disaster.

The typhoon, one of the strongest on record to hit land, tore across the central Philippines on Nov. 8, leaving more than 6,200 people dead and nearly 1,800 missing.

The storm destroyed or damaged more than a million houses and displaced more than 4 million mostly poor villagers.

The charity walk aimed to urge Filipinos and foreign governments to continue helping Haiyan survivors.

"We're concerned that donor fatigue may set in," Zabala said. "If we abandon them now, many can't still stand back fully on their own."