At the height of heavy rains caused by the southwest monsoon, Filipinos on Twitter wondered whether the downpour is linked to a biblical passage which coincided with the date, Aug. 7, 2012.
"Genesis 8: 7-12 is about Noah's Ark. Today is 8-7-12. What do you think? Coincidence or not?" netizens said, as the verse became a top trending Twitter topic.
The passage involves the prophet Noah, who, according to the bible, received a divine order to build an ark to save his family and other believers from a flood of 40 days and 40 nights that was sent as a punishment for the world's sins.
However, Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said Pinoys must not jump into conclusions amid the astounding coincidence.
"If we were to take it literally, the flood should have subsided yesterday, but it has not," Castro told Yahoo! Southeast Asia in a phone interview.
Chapter 8, verses 7 to 12 of the first book of the bible particularly depicts the end of the flood, with Noah sending birds to check for dry land.
"And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth," verse 8 read.
Noah sent a dove next but the bird, also finding no rest, returned to the prophet, who then waited seven days before sending the it out again.
"[T]he dove came in to him in the evening ; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth," verse 11 said. Noah again waited seven days. When he sent the dove out, it did not return, signalling that it has found dry ground on which to rest.
Castro said the apparent link was "coincidental," even as he noted that there are "people of faith who are very sensitive to signs."
"On one hand, attaching religious meaning to the flood may be stretching it too much; on the other hand, it's good that we always look up to a greater being," Castro noted.
He also said the trending topic reflects a "human tendency to look for signs, look for meaning or look for reason."
Connected to RH bill?
Other netizens dismissed the matter as a coincidence. Reposting the reference to Genesis, Elijah Daniel said: "Coincidence? Yes, you morons."
Some Filipinos took it seriously, such as Alexa Ilacad, who said via Twitter: "Genesis 8:7-12 talks about Noah's Ark and the flood. Today is '8-7-12' and it's flooding everywhere. The Word is alive."
For her part, Anna Tan commented after retweeting: "But it's about how the flood recedes. Hang in there, Filipinos!"
Some people also connected the floods to the controversial Reproductive Health bill, it being a "punishment" for disobeying Church. The House of Representatives on Monday ended debates on the controversial measure.
"I would not be quick to attribute the rain to God's wrath. What it is a clear sign of is that it's time to work together to help because people are suffering and some are dying," Castro commented.
This, as he urged government to improve access to basic social services, including disaster relief, "with or without an RH bill."
He added, however: "For people of faith, we believe that God speaks in many ways through his creation. Did he speak to us through the rain and the flood? Who knows?"
Meanwhile, Zambales Rep. Milagros "Mitos" Magsaysay clarified that what she had tweeted about the rain was not attributed to the RH bill.
A major newspaper quoted Magsaysay's tweet on Tuesday: "Heaven must be crying... We have to undo what has been done..."
"I strongly detest the article... my tweet had nothing to do with the RH bill nor the vote the night before. It was about the environment," Magsaysay said Wednesday via Twitter.
The congresswoman's Twitter timeline showed that after tweeting about heaven weeping, Magsaysay reacted to comments and said: "[D]id the tweet mention what it was referring to? [It] must refer to the environment, don't you think?"