[PHOTO- End of the world? Not so fast. A new book questions the accuracy of the Maya calendar, including the 2012 prophecy and other historical dates. The Maya prophecy predicting the 2012 end of the world may be off by 50 to 100 years or more, according to a new book.Credit: iStockphoto from UC Santa Barbara USA: www.ucsb.edu/]

MANILA, NOVEMBER 26, 2012 (MANILA BULLETIN) By LESLIE ANN G. AQUINO - The world will surely end, said an official of the Catholic Church but not on December 21, 2012 as some “doomsdayers” are claiming.

[PHOTO COURTRESY OF BICOLTODAY.COM -Arturo M. Bastes, Bishop Diocese of Sorsogon.]

“Only God knows when or what year, month, day, or hour the world will end. But it will surely end. Just be ready at all times,” said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, member of the Permanent Council of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Bastes said that while the world will surely end, no one can predict it to happen on December 21 as only God knows when this will come.

In Hong Kong, it’s do or die as the doomsday predictions bring in a flood of business.

Many people are planning to hold weddings, parties and family dinners on December 21 when, according to some predictions based on an ancient Mayan calendar, the world will end – just after 9 p.m. (Hong Kong/Manila time).

It also coincides with Winter Solstice.

Travel agency Hong Thai Travel Services has organized a “doomsday tour” to Mexico, where the Mayan culture once thrived. A spokeswoman said the tour of 20 people, which costs HK$44,999 a head for a total of 12 days, is already half full.

“Doomsday” bookings for restaurants operated by the Super Star Group are already 40 percent full, with several tables being reserved for wedding banquets.

“Weddings and gatherings will go on even if the sky is falling,” said senior operations manager Alice Kok Nga-sze. “Winter Solace is a big day for Chinese so doomsday won’t keep people away. We expect sales to go up more than 10 percent this year.”

Ninety-three couples have already registered to get married on that red-letter day, according to the Marriage Registry.

But fung shui master Sammy Au Chung-tak says it is not an auspicious day on which to tie the knot. “Three lucky celestial stars will appear on that day, which is good for the gathering of friends and relatives - but only so-so for marriages,” he said.

“More arguments can be expected between couples if they select the wrong time to say ‘I do.’”

Au suggests the best times to exchange vows are from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Don’t choose 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., he warned.

Although some bars in Lan Kwai Fong and shopping malls have no plans to launch end-of-the-world parties, the Hong Kong People’s Fringe Festival will host a Doomsday Party between December 13 and 15 —a few days early, just in case.

“We will be inviting the audience to make their last wishes,” participant Wong Yim-suen said. “Perhaps, with more confrontations in society, it’s time to start rethinking why and how we live.”

One man, meanwhile, is editing a film of his life to be shown to friends attending his birthday party on December 21. “Birthdays were always special to me until some friends pointed out I was going to celebrate this year’s on the day the world supposedly ends,” said designer Stephen Chan Ying-lun, 23.

Chan, who aspires to be a film director, has created a 90-minute movie which he plans to premiere on his birthday and invite friends to spend their last hours together.

“If it really is doomsday, then my work will be the last film they will ever watch. But, to be honest, I am more worried about my friends not turning up.”

But it may not be the end of the world, after all.

“The ancient Maya did not predict the end of the world or any disaster in December 2012,” said NASA senior scientist David Morrison, who is also director of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe.

“Such doomsday predictions are a modern hoax,” said Morrison

For his part, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco is no longer surprised with reports of the world ending since many people had made the same prediction in the past.

“This is not something new. Countless people in the past have done this,” Ongtioco said. “I think people should not believe predictions about the end of the world.”

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles is also not convinced that the world would end on the said day especially since it’s the anniversary of his priestly ordination.

“December 21 is my priestly ordination anniversary. My ordination day can never be a day of wrath, it will always be a day of blessing,” he said.

Talks about the world ending on December 21 have started circulating due to the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar which some believe marks the end of the world.

Last year, a US-based evangelist also claimed that the world would be coming to an end on last May 21, 2011.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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