PH sets new Guinness record with thousands of shimmering sky lanterns
MIAG-AO, Iloilo – They looked like countless fireflies illuminating the night skies on Friday.
Thousands of sky lanterns brightened the evening sky above this town on Friday as the Philippines lit its way into a new world record in the biggest number of sky lanterns let loose in one place simultaneously.
Seyda Subasi-Gemici, adjudicator and official representative of the Guinness World Records, said thousands of participants flew 15,185 sky lanterns at the football field of the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) in Miag-ao.
This bested the previous record set in June 2012 by Romania at 12,740 to promote a shopping mall opening.
“I’m happy to announce a new Guinness World Record. You all were officially amazing,” Gemici told a crowd of around 15,000 who broke into cheers and chanted, “Philippines, Philippines.”
A certificate by the world record body was awarded to the organizers for the feat.
The event, called “Inaugural Light of Peace Event in the Philippines: World Peace through Inner Peace,” was organized by the Middle Way Meditation Institute (MMI)-Philippines and its Thailand-based mother organization which promotes meditation.
Venerable Burin Thitakusalo, MMI director, said flying sky lanterns, a traditional form of prayer for Thais, is a way to encourage harmony and cultivate inner peace to attaining world peace.
“We need more than material things. We need a sense of calmness, a sense of direction amid the challenges in our lives,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
He said similar activities were held in Thailand but the number of lanterns flown was below 10,000.
The activity was joined by leaders of various religions, including Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, Imam Abdulnasser Langco and Babaji Karmjit Singh.
“World peace starts from inner peace,” Lagdameo said in his prayer.
He said that world peace would come from “within our hearts, within our own persons.”
The participants came mostly from Miag-ao, other parts of Panay Island and other provinces. They were joined by around 100 MMI partners and volunteers from Thailand.
Participants, who came from all ages and walks of life, arrived as early as 2:30 p.m. at the idyllic 1,200-hectare UPV campus in Miag-ao, about 42 km south of Iloilo City.
The campus was chosen as the venue because of the extensive open space bounded by trees and mountains on one side and the sea on other side.
The event organizers asked for a P350 donation from participants to cover the costs of the activity in exchange for priority passes but people who did not make any donation were still allowed to join.
Fernanda Morada, 68, a retiree from Barangay (village) Palaca in Miag-ao, was near the UPV football field with her niece at 2:30 p.m, hours before the official start of the program at 5 p.m.
“I enjoyed it a lot. I only flew two lanterns because the other burned before it flew but it was easy to do it,” she said.
Romulo Mondano, 50, a farmer from Barangay Dalije, 10 km from the UPV campus, joined the activity with his neighbors and friends.
“It’s the first time I have done this and I’m verry happy to be part of it,” he said.
The release of the sky lanterns was preceded by a 15-minute guided meditation with the participants sitting on the football grounds.
The participants first lit 10,000 ground lanterns that illuminated the football field. A short video orientation and live demonstration were also shown.
The Thai-manufactured sky lanterns were made of rice paper and bamboo frame held together by a pice of 1-mm wire. They had a diameter of 50 cm and a height of 150 cm, according to Dr. Emiliano Bernardo III, the event organizer.
The participants were instructed to light the lanterns for two minutes and 45 seconds to allow the air inside to heat up before releasing them.
The lanterns were released in three waves within 10 minutes starting at 6:45 p.m. by 5,000 pairs of participants.
The cheers of excitement grew as more of the lanterns were released.
Around 15,687 were prepared and displayed but some were flown outside the 10-minute limit. Others burned before they were released.
Organizers said the environmental impact of the event was “much less than that of fireworks and rubber balloons.”
Bernardo said the lanterns did not use fuel oil but tissue paper dipped in wax, a fossil fuel. The only metal material was the 1-mm wire used to secure the heat source.
He said the lanterns were designed to burn for eight minutes while flying and to rise to a height of 500 to 600 meters within an eight-kilometer range to avoid hitting low objects and structures.
The organizers also coordinated with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to ensure that the lanterns did not pose any obstruction to air traffic. Firetrucks were also on stand-by for accidental fires.
First posted 9:42 pm | Friday, May 24th, 2013
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