Participants to the Iglesia ni Cristo Worldwide Walk fill all the lanes of a portion of Roxas Boulevard in Manila on Saturday. Organizers said the event, held for the benefit of typhoon Yolanda victims, will be held in 85 sites in the Philippines and 55 elsewhere in the world. Photo by Jay Directo, AFP.
Tens of thousands in INC walk for 'Yolanda' aid
MANILA - (UPDATED) Tens of thousands of members of a Philippine sect took to the streets in Manila on Saturday in a charity walk to raise funds for survivors of the country's deadliest typhoon.
Members of the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) poured into the capital's seaside avenue in response to the politically influential sect's appeal to help compatriots caught up by Super Typhoon Haiyan's onslaught.
All those taking part bought special white t-shirts, costing 250 pesos ($5.60)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-kilometre (1.8-mile) walk on Roxas Boulevard in late morning.
Police estimated the crowd at about 200,000, though the figure could not be independently confirmed.
Haiyan tore across 171 towns and cities in the central islands on November 8 last year, killing at least 6,200 people and leaving nearly 2,000 others missing according to an official count.
The typhoon, one of the strongest ever to hit land, also left more than four million people homeless.
Many of them are still living in tents and other temporary shelters supplied by an international humanitarian effort led by the United Nations.
The district remained fenced off to traffic at noon, with more participants expected to join in the afternoon, an AFP photographer on the scene said.
"This is an organised march, and there have been no untoward incidents," said Chief Inspector Alejandro Yanquiling, a senior Manila police officer who oversaw security for the event.
The Iglesia, a Filipino Christian sect, has at least three million members in the largely Catholic nation of 100 million.
The conservative sect is courted by politicians because its members tend to vote as a block.
Meanwhile, Guinness Book of World Records adjudicator Kirstie Bennet confirmed with ABS-CBN News that the Iglesia, with at least 175,000 participants in Saturday's event, has set a new record for the largest charity walk in a single venue.
The record was previously held by Singapore, with 77,500 participants. -- with a report from Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News