The Leaf Musician
He became famous around the world for his distinct talent. The Guinness Book of World Records has recognized Filipino National Artist Levi Celerio as the only man who could play beautiful music with a leaf.
Celerio appeared in "That's Incredible" and the Mel Griffin show where he played music with a leaf. The Guinness Book of World Records said: "The only leaf player in the world is in the Philippines". As a composer and lyricist, Celerio wrote more than 4,000 songs.
The Woman With 3,400 Shoes
Former First Lady Imelda Marcos was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the woman with the largest collection of shoes. Reports said that when the Marcos family fled to Hawaii during the People's Power Revolution in 1986, around 3,400 pairs of shoes were discovered in one room at Malacanang Palace. They were the First Lady's collection.
In 1987, Mrs. Marcos denied this and claimed she had only 1,060 pairs of shoes. The former First Lady has an eight-and-a-half inch footwear size. She said her having many shoes is not a symbol of extravagance but an expression of love and appreciation for Filipino-made shoes. Most of her shoes, she added, were bought from Marikina, the shoe capital of the Philippines. For this, Marikina City had acquired 200 pairs of the Marcos shoes and put them on display at the city's shoe museum.
Largest Loot in History
Much has been said about the late President Ferdinand Marcos being the world's richest man. While this title was not officially designated to Marcos, the late dictator, however, was known as the man who took away the largest loot in history. While deposed President Joseph Estrada faces plunder charges for allegedly amassing some US$82 million in kickbacks and payoffs during his 31-month stint at Malacanang Palace, Marcos had reportedly stolen billions of dollars. There were different versions of the fabled Marcos wealth.
The fabled Marcos wealth reportedly consists of billions of dollars and tons of gold bullions deposited in several banks in Switzerland. Government lawyers claimed that Marcos had used dummy foundations to hoard his wealth. Among such foundations that the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) had identified are Sandy, Xandy, Wintrop, and Rayby.
Former Senate President Jovito Salonga, who served as the first PCGG chairman under the Aquino administration said the agency had identified 51 Marcos bank accounts in Switzerland, 23 of which are in Credit Suisse; 3 at Swiss Bank Corporation in Fribourg; 15 in Swiss Bank Corporation in Geneva; 6 at Banque Paribas in Geneva; 3 at Hoffman in Zurich; and one each at Lombard Odeii and Trade Development Bank in Geneva.
According to former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, the Marcos family still keeps some US$13.4 billion in deposits at the Union Bank of Switzerland under the account of Irene Marcos-Araneta, on top of a hoard of 1.241 tons of gold at an underground bunker at Kloten Airport in Zurich. Chavez also disclosed that former First Lady Imelda Marcos has 800,000 ounces of gold in unfrozen accounts in Switzerland.
Before this, Australian private investigator Reiner Jacobi, who served as a PCGG consultant in 1989, had unraveled the so-called Irene Araneta account and even went to the extent of claiming that the Marcoses had a US$250-billion gold hoard in Switzerland. The PCGG, however, described Jacobi's claims as exaggerated and too fantastic.
In October 1999, Filipino businessman Enriquez Zobel, a known crony of the late president told a Senate committee that the Marcos wealth could have swollen to US$100 billion in gold and dollar deposits, the bulk of which is deposited with the US Treasury. In his sworn testimony, Zobel said the Marcos wealth is distributed to gold deposits, dollar accounts, and real estate properties located in various parts of the world.
The Marcos gold deposits alone, Zobel said, may have reached US$35 billion. Zobel had also mentioned the US$13.4 billion Irene Marcos Araneta account at the Union Bank of Switzerland. The gold bars are allegedly kept in various banks in Portugal, Vatican City, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Solomon Island, and the US. Zobel said Marcos obtained the gold bars after the Liberation (1946) from the Yamashita treasure and from soldiers who sold their gold bars for only US$20 per bar. Another version was that of Rogelio Roxas who claimed that Marcos' men seized the real golden buddha from his house at Aurora Hills in Baguio City on April 5, 1971. The buddha reportedly costs billions of dollars.
In February 2001, the Philippine Daily Inquirer disclosed the alleged attempt of Irene Marcos Araneta to launder billions of dollars in deposits under the 885931 accounts from Union Bank of Switzerland to Deutsche Banks in Dusseldorf, Germany. Aside from the Marcos family and the Philippine government, the 9,539 victims of human rights under the Marcos regime have interest in the Marcos wealth.
World's Largest Shoes
In December 2002, the Guinness Book of World Records has recognized Marikina City for crafting the world's largest pair of shoes - each measuring 5.5 meters (18.2 feet) long, 2.25 meters (7.4 feet) wide and 1.83 meters (six feet) high. The materials for the P1.2 million pair of shoes could produce 250 pairs of regular shoes.
World's Largest Golf Event
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the biggest amateur golf tournament takes place in Baguio City, Philippines every year. Dubbed as the Fil-Am Golf Championship since 1949, the 72-hole golf tournament attracts close to 1,000 amateur golfers from all over the archipelago. The sites of the prestigious event are the challenging par-69, 5,001-yard Camp John Hay golf course and the par-61, 4,038-yard Baguio Country Club. Among the top contending teams in the event are the Canlubang, Southwoods, Calatagan, and Wack Wack.
World's Largest Synchronized Aerobics Exercises
On February 16, 2003, some 107,000 Filipinos joined a 30-minute aerobics exercise supervised by the Department of Health (DOH) at Rizal Park in Manila, which could be the largest synchronized exercise in the world. Thousands of people also gathered at different venues in Cebu City and Davao City to participate in the exercise simultaneous with the Manila event. The new record broke the previous Guinness Book of World Records set at a park in Guadalajara, Mexico by some 38,633 people who joined the massive aerobics exercises in June 1998.
World's Largest Lantern
On December 24, 2002, the city of San Fernando in Pampanga province switched on the world's largest Christmas lantern - a P5-million structure with 26.8 meters in diameter.
World's Fastest Reader
As a student at the Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, Maria Teresa Calderon became the world's fastest reader. She set the record of having read 80,000 words per hour.
The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Eriberto Gonzales of Camalig, Albay as the fastest chili eater. In the Philippines, he is known as the "Sili King". Gonzales accomplished his feat in the "Sili-Eating Challenge 1999" in Bicol where he ate 350 pieces of sili in three minutes. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)
World's Best Finance Minister
In 1997, Roberto de Ocampo who was serving in the Cabinet of former President Fidel Ramos, was recognized as the "World's Best Finance Minister" for overhauling the country's tax system through the Comprehensive Tax Reform Package.
World's Best Central Bank Governor
In October 2002, international magazine Global Finance named Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Rafael Carlos B. Buenaventura as one of the world's two best central bankers for "his remarkable skill in guiding" the Philippine economy under a trying year. The other central banker named was Reserve Bank of Austalia (RBA) Governor Ian MacFarlane.
World Young Business Achievers
In 1995, Joseph Donato Pangilinan, president of Manila Pearl, won the World Young Business Achiever Award (WYBA) in London. In 1997, Renato Pangilinan, chief executive officer of Juventus International won the Entrepreneurship Award in Newfoundland, Canada. In 1998, Andrew James Masigan, founder of Dimsum n' Dumpling won the Award of Excellence in Business Strategy.
World's Sweetest Fruit
What can be considered as the world's sweetest mango is produced in the island province of Guimaras. While other countries have different varieties of the tropical mango (Mangifera indica), none of them tastes like the superbly delicious Guimaras mango, which is a variety of the popular Carabao Mango (Manginera indica).
In 1995, the Guinness Book of World records listed the Carabao Mango as the sweetest fruit in the world. In the Philippines, mango ranks third among fruit crops in production, next to banana and pineapple. The country supplies mangoes to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and recently the United States. In 1995, the Philippines produced 432,322 metric tons of mangoes, with an average production of 6.35 metric tons per hectare and 250 kilograms per tree from a total production area of 68,056 hectares.
World's Largest Legal Tender
In 1998, during the Philippine Centennial celebration of independence, the Central Bank asked the Guinness Book of World Records to accredit its P100,000 commemorative bills, measuring 8 ½ inches wide and 14 inches long, as the world's largest legal tender. The commemorative bills were called Brobdingnagian bills.
World's Largest Bamboo Organ
The bamboo organ at St. Joseph Church in Las Pinas City is arguably the world's largest bamboo organ. The centuries-old musical instrument was constructed between 1792 and 1819. It has 174 bamboo pipes, 122 horizontal reeds of soft metal, a five-octave keyboard, and 22 stops arranged in vertical rows.
World's Largest City
The residents of Davao City claim they live in the world's largest city. They are talking about the land size of the city that covers 2,212 square kilometers. Most of these areas, however, are distributed as forests, coconut groves and rice fields. In comparison, New York, the largest city in the United States, has an area of only 787 square kilometers while the whole of Metro Manila covers only 636 square kilometers.
Davao City lies at the mouth of the Davao River near the head of Davao Gulf. It encompasses about 50 small ports in its commercial sphere. Davao has large banana plantations, whose produce are exported to Japan and other countries. The city also boasts of a modern international airport. Puerto Princesa City, a chartered city of Palawan province, is disputing Davao City's title. It claims to have a total land area of 2,539 square kilometers encompassing 66 barangays.
In terms of population and land area, the world's truly largest cities are Tokyo, Mexico City, Sao Paolo, New York City, Bombay, Shanghai and Los Angeles.
World's Largest Volume of Text Messages
Smart Communications, one of the two giant mobile phone networks in the country, claimed that the volume of text messages passing through its network reached 240 million daily as of 2001. This excluded text messages sent via the other networks. Such volume of text messages is said to be larger than those sent in the entire European continent during the same year.
World's Largest High School
The Rizal High School in Caniogan, Pasig City (eastern Metro Manila) is said to be the world's largest high school in terms of student population. The school has more than 20,000 students.
World's Longest Barbecue
On April 30, 2002, about 50,000 people participated in the "Kalutan ed Dagupan" festival in Dagupan City (Pangasinan province, Northern Luzon, Philippines) to help grill and partake of the 1,001-meter long barbecue, that broke the previous World Record of 613 meter-long barbecue grilled in Canchia, Peru on November 13, 1999.
The people of the city used hundreds of grills, each measuring 1.2-meter long, to cook the barbecue. The grills' total measure was about 800 meters long, enough to surpass the Peruvian record. The barbecue consisted of bangus (milkfish), pork, chicken, vegetables and cold cuts. A video footage was sent to the Guinness Book of World Records for validation. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)
World's Largest Flower
In February 2002, an environmental organization discovered what could be one of the world's largest flowers in the 5,511-hectare Sibalom National Park in Antique province. Measuring about 22 inches in diameter, the endangered flower, locally named as "Uruy", (Rafflesia sp.) has no stem and leaves. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)
World's Largest Salad
The residents of Baguio City took pride in having tossed what was believed to be the world's largest salad - a three-ton mix of assorted vegetables.
On September 29, 2002 during the Tossed Salad Festival in commemoration of the city's 93rd charter anniversary, 67 students and members of the Baguio Association of Hotels and Inns (Bahai) mixed 2,976 kilograms of lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers and other vegetables in a tin and wrought iron bowl measuring 20 feet long, 10 feet wide and 2 feet deep.
Some 13,657 people were able to partake of the P1.5 million mixtures. They paid P20 for each serving of the tossed salad with Thousand Island dressing and another take-out bowl of salad with a gourmet vinaigrette dressing consisting of apple cider vinegar and olive oil.
The city broke its own record set a year earlier. On September 16, 2001, a 917-kilogram of salad was able to feed 4,861 residents and tourists of Baguio City. On September 14, 2002, a religious group prepared a giant Caesar's salad that fed only 1,000 people in Salt Lake City, Utah.
World's Largest Durian Candy Bar
On March 15, 2002, 25 people in Davao City spent six hours to cook, mold and roll the world's largest durian candy bar - a 6-meter, 200-kilogram delicacy made of durian, a smelly but sweet fruit commonly associated with the name of the city. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)
World's Longest Mat
The people of the agricultural town of Basey, Samar own the distinction of having weaved the world's longest mat, or "banig" in the local parlance. During the town's Banigan-Kawayan Festival on September 29, 2000, hundreds of people paraded the mat, which extended for more than a kilometer.
The one-meter wide mat has been weaved for several weeks by groups of people from the different barangays of Basey. While the mat was not submitted as an entry to the Guinness Book of World Records, Basey Mayor Wilfredo Estorninos described the feat as a source of pride for all Basaynons.
Each year, the town, which has weaving as its prime industry, comes to life when it celebrates outlandishly the feast of St. Michael, its patron saint. The highlight of the feast is the Banigan-Kawayan Festival, where the women of Basey weave a variety of intricately designed mats from sedge grass locally known as tikog (Fimbristylis milliacea). This tradition was handed down from many generations. The Church of Basey was built in 1864.
World's Largest Pearl
A Filipino diver discovered what is now described as the world's largest pearl in a giant Tridacna (mollusk) under the Palawan Sea in 1934. Known as the "Pearl of Lao-Tzu", the gem weighs 14 pounds and measures 9 ½ inches long and 5 ½ inches in diameter. As of May 1984, it was valued at US$42 million. It is believed to be 600 years old.
World's Largest Covered Coliseum
At the time it was completed in 1959, the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City was touted as the world's largest covered entertainment center. Otherwise known as the Big Dome, it has a floor area of 2,300 square meters and a seating capacity of 33,000 people.
One of the World's Best Hotels
In 1983, British magazine Executive Travel named Manila Hotel as one of the ten best in the world while Business Traveler, another British publication named it as one of the top ten business hotels in the world in 1986. In 1992, the Institutional Investor magazine called Manila Hotel as the world's best hotel and in 1993, the Vienna-based Treasury Publishing included it in the list of the most famous hotels in the world.
Among the many political luminaries and celebrities who have stayed at the Manila Hotel were Ernest Hemingway, General Douglas McArthur, Marlon Brando, Helen Keller, John Wayne, Rocky Marciano, Richard Nixon, Robert Kennedy, Emperor Akihito, John Rockefeller, Dwight Eisenhower, Neil Armstrong, Anatoly Karpov, Bob Hope, Henry Kissinger, Princess Margaret, Brooke Shields, John Denver, Bon Jovi, Ben Kingsley, Richard Attenborough, Julio Iglesias, Richard Cheney, Garri Kasparov, Sultan Bolkiah, Rod Stewart, Nick Price, Greg Norman, Arnold Parmer, Bill Clinton, Helmut Kohl, Nelson Mandela and Prince Charles. (Source: Panorama magazine)
One of the Best Banks
Global Finance, a financial magazine in the US, named the Bank of Philippine Islands, the oldest bank in the country, as the best domestic bank in emerging markets in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001. Emerging markets refer to developing economies, mostly in Asia.
Asia's Best Business School
The Makati-based Asian Institute of Management (AIM) is richly considered as one of the top business schools in Asia. In the year 2001, it received the Beyond Grey Pinstripes Award for having MBA programs that integrate social, environmental and sustainability topics into business training. The award is a joint project of The Aspen Institute Initiative for Social Innovation through Business (Aspen ISIB) and World Resources Institute.
In its 2002 list, US-based Fortune Magazine ranked Teresita Sy-Coson, a daughter of Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. and executive vice president of SM Prime Holdings, as the world's 39th most influential woman in international business outside the United States. The SM Prime Holdings is a conglomerate engaged in retail, real state, manufacturing, banking and finance.
World's Second Most Devastated City
The late US President and General Dwight Eisenhower described Manila as the world's second most devastated city during World War II, next to Warsaw, Poland which was reduced to ruins by the Nazi's attack. Before he became president, Eisenhower served in the Philippines under General Douglas Macarthur from 1935 to 1939.
Second Largest Geothermal Power Source
As of 2002, the Philippines was producing about 1,765 megawatts of geothermal energy, making it the world's second largest geothermal power user after the United States. The Department of Energy said the country could edge out the US at the top by installing a new geothermal power plant with a 900-megawatt capacity.
World's Third Largest Banana Producer
The Philippines is considered as the world's third largest producer of bananas, after Costa Rica and Ecuador. Large plantations in southern Mindanao produce most bananas exported by the Philippines. Some 30,000 hectares in the region are planted to bananas.
The Philippines is also one of the largest producers of coconut, cassava, mango, pineapple, tilapia, tuna, shrimps, and prawns.