Doomsday jokers try to console JanineBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
No need for Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon to feel bad that she didn’t win the Miss Universe pageant, Filipino online users joked. The winner, a beauty queen from the United States, will enjoy her crown only until Friday.
For ‘tis the end of the world, according to doomsayers, referring to Dec. 21, the supposed last day on the Mayan calendar when some catastrophic event will purportedly end all life on Earth.
A blogger calling himself Professional Heckler tweeted: “Miss USA looked happy! Apparently, she wasn’t informed that her reign ends before midnight of Dec. 20.”
Echoing the joke, Twitter user Young Marc (@noitszheune) tweeted Thursday: “Too bad two days lang naging Ms. Universe si Ms. USA (She was Miss Universe for only two days).”
But since you’re still reading this, the experts who should know must be telling the truth.
Why world won’t end
“There’s no basis scientifically for that. It’s not true,” said Nathaniel Servando, administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
And as the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has posted on its “Frequently Asked Questions” page online, Earth will be uneventful today: No global blackout, no wayward celestial body about to hit Earth, and nothing special about the planetary alignments this month.
“The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012,” Nasa said in a Q&A titled “Beyond 2012: Why the World Won’t End in 2012” posted on its website.
Predictions that the end of the world would come on Dec. 21, 2012, can be traced to theories suggesting that a cataclysmic event would occur on that date.
The date is said to mark the end of the ancient Mayan calendar. The Maya people belonged to an ancient civilization.
Historians have dismissed the prediction.
Debunking such apocalypse talk as a hoax, Nasa explained why the end of the Mayan’s “long-count” calendar—the dead civilization’s version of our Gregorian calendar—was not a prophecy of the end of our days.
“Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after Dec. 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on Dec. 21, 2012,” Nasa said.
“This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period, but then—just as your calendar begins again on Jan. 1—another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar,” the space agency said.
So go ahead and watch that mega-disaster movie “2012” again today. It’s a thriller about the end of the world but given the doomsday stories of late, you may end up laughing.
Or, go ahead and replay that “Gangnam Style” music video on YouTube—doom will not come once it gets a billion hits, as that popularly reshared Facebook post about a supposed Nostradamus prediction wants you to believe.
What’s for sure is that the sun will rise tomorrow and evenings will start to be longer than daytime in the Philippines with the onset of the winter solstice.
In Pagasa’s astronomical diary, the winter solstice will begin Friday night, marking the start of winter in countries in the northern hemisphere and the start of summer in the southern hemisphere.
“The sun will reach the winter solstice on Dec. 21 at 7:12 p.m. This marks the time when the sun lies at its farthest point south of the equator … The Philippine nights will be longer than daytime. Earth has now completed another annual circuit around the sun,” according to Servando.
Filipinos remain cool
To sociologist Clifford Sorita, Filipinos do not appear bothered much by the doomsday noise—perhaps owing to the spiritual upbringing of many.
“We were raised knowing that—we should not be concerned with the end of the world when each person has his own,” Sorita said.
Besides, according to Sorita, there is nothing to fear about the coming of the end.
“As one book said, when you know how to appreciate death, we’ll also know how to live. We will not waste time and live every day to its fullest.”
“Every culture believes time will end. For every start, there will always be an end. But there’s a difference between preparing and panicking. If you’re prepared, the end of times is not something to be scared of,” Sorita said.
And as you wrap up your day, rest easy, this paper will come out tomorrow. There’s still Christmas next week, New Year’s Day the next, and, oh, the elections in May next year.
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