Local historian Fernando A. Almeda on Wednesday said he had organized “end-of-the-world” group discussions but stressed his aim was not to sow panic.
“We want to foster critical thinking, to encourage discussions from a diverse set of beliefs and persuasions,” Almeda said. “This way, we can liberate our minds from superstition and parochialism.”
Predictions that the end of the world will come on Dec. 21, 2012, can be traced to theories suggesting that a cataclysmic event will occur on that date. The date is said to mark the end of the ancient Mayan calendar.
The Maya people were part of an ancient civilization. The Maya empire, centered in the tropical lowlands of what is now Guatemala, reached the peak of its power and influence around the sixth century.
Historians have dismissed the prediction, saying the event merely signaled the end of a time cycle and the beginning of a new epoch in the now extinct Mayan civilization.
World to end at 7 p.m.
Almeda runs a private museum, the Museo Nan Surigao, where he has gathered his small staff to start the countdown. The countdown began in Surigao City and Surigao del Norte at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
Located along the city boulevard, the museum houses World War II artifacts, as well as a collection of precious stones and minerals found in the Caraga region.
Almeda said the museum would now serve as the “End of the World” headquarters, “where intellectual exchanges on the end of the world will take place.”
He said he picked this day as the launch date because “we are eight hours ahead of the rest of the world.”
“The Mayans have predicted the end of their calendar (interpreted as the ‘End of the World’) 11 a.m (GMT), or Dec. 21, 2012, or 7 p.m. (local time) 2012,” the retired government employee posted on Facebook.
Almeda said he planned to invite members from Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands, as well as religious and professional groups, to discuss their views on the end of the world.
A historian who has authored several books on the history of Surigao province, Almeda said doomsday scenarios were nothing new to local residents, a number of whom are members of cultish groups that typically flourish in island municipalities.
One such group existed in the 1920s on Bucas Grande Islands near the surfing mecca of Siargao.
“The cult leader, Sinon Lagbas, ordered his members to plant massive amounts of abaca so that the ropes that can be produced from the plant can prevent the world from tilting from its axis,” Almeda said, adding this was the first recorded end-of-the-world scenario in the province.
To prove he was not taking the Mayan prophecy seriously, Almeda said he would also organize a postdoomsday forum where different groups would discuss ways to “save the world from the real dangers wrought by destructive human activities.”
“If the world comes to an end, it will happen because of illegal mining, illegal logging and other abuses to our Mother Nature,” he said.
Illegal mining and illegal logging activities have been blamed for the huge death toll that Typhoon “Pablo” recently inflicted on Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur.
Experts around the world have debunked the doomsday myth—hence there is no need to build giant arks to escape from the terrible floods. Though the Mayas made prophecies, they looked at events in the near future and these were related to day-to-day concerns like rain, droughts or harvests, they said.