By Jonathan Dela Cruz
It’s confirmed. The Iglesia ni Cristo Charity Walk held last Sunday, officially called “Worldwide Walk to Fight Poverty,” has broken three Guinness World Records: Largest human sentence, largest charity walk at a single venue and largest human mosaic. No less than Adam Brown, official adjudicator and representative of the internationally recognized and award-winning organization affirmed this as he presented the same to INC officials—the largest homegrown religious organization in the country—a day after the event.
In addition, Brown advised that it is possible two more records may have been achieved during last Sunday’s event—largest charity walk at multiple venues and the highest number of nationalities in a charity walk—both of which are being verified.
What is remarkable about these records is the fact that the INC itself set the earlier recognized ones.
For example, last Sunday’s “charity walkers” who jammed the 1.6-kilometer stretch from the Cultural Center to Rizal Park along Roxas Boulevard beat the previous INC world record for the walk in a single venue set in 2014. With such affirmation, the record for the largest number of participants in multiple venues which was also set by the INC in 2014 will most probably be exceeded again, as last Sunday’s global march was undertaken simultaneously in 300 venues across 18 time zones more than the 2014 record of 129 sites across 16 countries.
On the other hand, the 23, 235 participants who formed that sentence “Proud to be a member of Iglesia ni Cristo” easily outnumbered the 16,550 Indians who formed the sentence “You can, you will” which became the world record in 2016.
In the case of the largest human mosaic contest, the 9,000 INC members who formed the “INC tri-colors with the biblical golden memorah in the middle” mosaic bested the Saudi Arabian record of 4,500 participants set in November last year.
But more than the records set by last Sunday’s “Worldwide Walk Against Poverty,” what makes the event truly commendable is the fact that like in 2014, it was done to raise funds for charitable causes. In 2014, the event was meant to raise funds for victims of Typhoon “Yolanda.” This time around, the funds will be for the benefit of poor communities in Africa where apparently the INC is making inroads as it continues its evangelization efforts in that part of the world.
What can we say except congratulations and Mabuhay INC? To God be the glory indeed.
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So, what are we to do now? If we go by the logic of those who have been egging President Duterte to vehemently protest the militarization by China of the islands it has been occupying for decades in the Spratlys, also known as the Kalayaan Islands group, we should now issue similar protests against Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan.
These countries together with Brunei have pending claims over parts of the archipelago. By all indications, they have also put in place military grade weaponry and equipment in their occupied formations.
The Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative has noted that Vietnam, more than China, has the most number of outposts in the area with 49 spread across 27 formations. Malaysia, on the other hand, is occupying five formations while Taiwan occupies the biggest “natural feature”—also known as an island—in the area.
All of these countries have outposts otherwise known as military presence in their occupied formations with corresponding support facilities also known as landing vessels, military grade buoys and communications systems, a harbor and a landing strip and, of course, some artillery if not weapons systems ala China. Only Brunei among the five claimants does not have any military outpost in the area. Of course, we have a landing strip in Kalayaan island, a moored navy vessel and a contingent of Marines quite apart from some 200 or so civilians who have resided in the island for sometime.
Given this information and, as of this writing, sightings of movements (maybe military in nature) in the occupied formations by each and every claimant except Brunei, how are we suppose to respond? File a claim before the United Nations? Protest the high heavens? Call in the US forces to enforce our Mutual Defense Treaty? Encourage year-round Balikatan exercises? We need some urgent replies from the usual sections and “keen observers” of the militarization in the area.
Otherwise, if they cannot help us find a realistic and responsible answer to our queries the best they can do is ____. Alam nyo na.