SURIGAO CITY—Over the past several months, followers of a cult said to be led by a little-known movie actor have been converging on a hill in preparation for the beginning of what they believe will be doomsday.
Calling itself H-World, the group says Dec. 21 marks the beginning of the “Great Darkness” and the coming of the “Divine Government.” It coincides with the much-talked-about date Mayans had supposedly prophesied would be the end of the world.
“It’s the day when darkness begins to reign, when the hearts of men lose hope,” said Berano Tamayo, 60, of the self-styled quasi-military and quasi-religious organization purportedly headed by Royette Padilla, brother of local filmdom’s popular bad boy Robin Padilla.
“The physical world would not be completely destroyed as it is, but there will be calamities and a new world order will emerge after the Great Darkness,” he said.
The settlement on the hill overlooking the Lipata Port offers natural protection against deluge and other natural disasters, Tamayo said.
Around 500 members of the group started arriving in the area in July. Most of them are from the towns of Socorro on Bucas Grande Island and Loreto on Dinagat Island.
To eke out a living, men plant vegetables and other crops while mothers raise chickens and pigs. A health committee tends to sickly children, while another team takes care of the settlement’s security.
Tamayo said a spartan way of life would save them from the coming “cleansing” of the sinners.
Norman Niez, 33, said he had to travel from his hometown of Trento in Agusan del Sur to join the group after hearing about the Dec. 21 prophecy. He brought his wife with him, believing that the hill would shelter them from calamities.
Various cults that preach doomsday thrive in Surigao del Norte, mostly on Bucas Grande and Dinagat.
Local historian Fernando A. Almeda Jr. said cults and religious sects should not be viewed with disdain.
“They’re not alone in believing that the world will eventually come to an end,” said Almeda, who earlier launched a doomsday countdown at his private museum here.
“Christians are called millenarians because we believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, as stated in the Book of Revelations,” he explained.
These prophecies should be taken with an “open mind,” he said. “We should engage and have meaningful discussions about this phenomenon and develop our minds and outlook from these shared experiences.”