Weird End-of-the-World Prophecies We All Fell For
Mars will collide with Jupiter. Pluto will explode. Earth will be engulfed in darkness and only candles blessed by a priest will light up.
These are some of the weird end-of-the-world prophecies Filipinos believed during the ’90s—a strange era when people were gullible and anything passed for fact, including one involving a half-snake, half-human hiding in Robinsons Galleria.
The following are some of the end-of-the-world prophecies that scared us as a kid and amused us as adults.
1| Three Days of Darkness
Sometime in the early 1990s, a rumor spread that the world would experience three days of darkness, which will not be penetrated by any light source except for candles blessed by a Catholic priest. Every household, therefore, should stock up on these blessed candles. Lucky Catholics.
“But how are we going to light the candles if only the candles could produce light? Will matches work?” I remember asking my mother. I was absolutely worried. To make matters worse, she said that a poisonous fume will fill the atmosphere so we’ll have to seal the 14 windows and three entrances of the house.
I also remember people taking the rumor so seriously, taking candles to the church for the priest to bless after every mass, that the priest had to scold them. “I will not bless your candles if you’re thinking of the end of the world,” he said, exasperated.
The three days of darkness originated from the bible. In Exodus, Egyptians experienced three days of darkness as punishment from God for their cruelty toward the Israelites.
But a certain Franciscan nun, Marie Julie Jahenny (1850-1941), allegedly prophesied about the end of the world and how three days of darkness will occur. She allegedly quoted words from the Virgin Mary saying:
“The earth will be covered in darkness. Thunder and lightning will cause those who have no faith or trust in My Power, to die of fear. During these three days of terrifying darkness, no windows must be opened, because no one will be able to see the earth and the terrible color it will have in those days of punishment without dying at once. The sky will be on fire, the earth will split. During these three days of darkness let the blessed candle be lighted everywhere, no other light will shine.”
Whatever Jahenny predicted, it sounded like a nuclear apocalypse or a meteor impact that would cover the entire planet with dust and contaminate the air with some kind of toxic fume. Coming from a 91-year-old, stigmata-bearing nun, who died in 1941 before nuclear bombs were created, this still sends goosebumps down our spine.
2| End of the World Welcome Ritual in Mount Banahaw
In 1999, a group of Filipinos wanted to welcome the end of the world at what they believed was the holiest site in the country: Mount Banahaw. The pilgrims of a sect called Iglesia del Ciudad Mistica de Dios, a Rizalista group, flocked to the mystic mountain, counting down to the end of the world, which they believed would happen with major earthquakes, famine, and calamities.
When the clock struck 12, the world did not end, nor was there any big quake, famine, or calamity that occurred.
3| The Millenium Bug
People believed that, when the year 2000 came in, a series of catastrophes will send the world back to the stone age: Banks will fail, stock markets will crash, electricity will be cut off, telephones will cease to function, and all computers will be unusable—all because of the Millennium Bug.
The Millennium Bug, also known as the Y2K bug, was a problem related to the formatting of dates in computers, which were only capable of processing two-digit dates for the year instead of four digits. The computers would not be able to distinguish the year 2000 from 1900. People thought the problem would be so catastrophic that it would eventually lead to the depletion of food and water supplies, war, and famine.
The problem became so bad that people began withdrawing all their money from the banks. In 1999, when you drove down a commercial street in the Philippines, you would see tarpaulins in front of banks stating “We are Y2K Ready” or “Our computers are Y2K-proof”.
But the world did not end, because apparently, computer scientists and software engineers prepared for the Y2k. Once people realized there was no Y2k, they eventually put their money back in the banks.
4| The Hale-Bopp Comet
In 1995, two amateur observers Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp discovered a comet before it was visible to the naked eye. Scientists named the comet after the two observers. When the comet passed near the sun and the earth in 1997, people thought it was a sign of the end of times.
Once again, people spread rumors about the end of the world as heralded by the space rocks, employing apocalypse staples such as earthquakes, calamities, darkness, and famine.
One particular end-of-the-world prediction about the comet involved an alien spacecraft that was allegedly trailing behind the Hale-Bopp Comet. One sect in America believed that the alien spacecraft had come to fetch their souls and transport them to the afterlife where they would be given new bodies. Sadly, it ended in a mass suicide of the sect’s followers, believing they would ascend with the aliens to another planet.
5| Halley’s Comet
Halley’s Comet has probably been recorded since 240 B.C. and nearly all of its appearances were associated with calamities or natural disasters. For some reason, comets have earned a nasty reputation for being harbingers of death and heralds of disaster.
When the comet made an appearance in 1986, people once again associated it with the end of the world, even though this has happened hundreds of times in the past. But this time, it was more because of wrong science.
On February 8, 1986, the New York Times reported that Yerkes Observatory at the University of Chicago had detected cyanogen gas in the comet’s tail. According to the report, the poisonous gas could penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, killing everyone on the surface. People realized that the comet was much farther away from earth for the gas to engulf the planet’s atmosphere.
6| Planet Nibiru will Collide with Earth
In 1995, a certain Nancy Lieder claimed she was visited by extraterrestrials, who she claimed told her how the world would end: A rogue planet crashing through space would collide with earth and end all life.
According to Lieder, she was chosen by aliens to prophesy about the apocalypse so humans could prepare. Reportedly, the rogue planet would sweep through the inner solar system in May 2003. When this event failed to happen, Lieder postponed the alleged date of the apocalypse.
Well, no one believed her anymore, until 2011 when people associated her rogue planet with the Mayan Calendar which ended in 2012.
7| The Mayan Calendar
The Mayan calendar had accurately predicted celestial movements from the fifth century up until December 21, 2012 (yes, it was that accurate), when the Mayan calendar disc ran out of space. People assumed this was because the Mayans predicted the world would end in 2012 that’s why they didn’t bother writing the preceding dates.
People also believed that the Mayans had access to celestial knowledge so advanced that they also predicted what Nancy Lieder did in 1995: A rogue planet would crash into earth.
Fortunately, this was not the case. They simply had no time to write the succeeding dates in their 5,126-year-long cycle Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, probably because Spaniards invaded and subjugated them.
December 21, 2012 had come and gone, and we’re still here waiting for the next exciting end-of-the-world prophecy.