Are you ready for a perpetual calendar?
BY ALEX Y. VERGARA
Imagine celebrating your birthday on a specific day of the week for the rest of your life.
IF the whole world were to embrace Aristeo
Fernando’s idea, then everybody would be
celebrating their birthdays on a specific day of the week every year for the rest of their lives.
The Sydney-based Filipino-Australian has been waging a lonely, if not futile, battle for a perpetual calendar to be adopted by Australia, and hopefully the rest of the world, by 2001.
To give it maximum impact, he hopes the Australian government will embrace his calendar to an international audience at the Sydney Olympics in the year 2000.
“The date is significant since it’s the start of the 21st century and the third millennium,” said Fernando. “The change would ensure a smooth transition because Jan. 1 also falls on a Monday.”
Unlike the ever-changing Gregorian calendar, Fernando’s version, as its name implies, is constant. So aside from New Year’s Day, Christmas Day would always fall on a Monday, Valentine’s Day on a Wednesday.
If you were born, say, on Feb. 3, then you’re destined to celebrate it every Saturday—for life. If you think that’s tough, consider those whose birthdays fall forever on a Monday. Now, that would indeed be manic.
Just like its supposed predecessor, the perpetual calendar has 365 days in a regular year, and 366 in a leap year.
The calendar has 31 days in January, April, July and October, and 30 days for the rest of the months, except December and—every four years—June. Fernando has designated Dec. 31 as World Peace Day, and June 31 as Leap Year Day.
So as not to alter the year-round cycle, he has named these two occasions as “no week days.” In other words, they don’t belong to any particular day of the week.
Fernando, 50, worked for seven years in Saudi Arabia as a computer instructor before immigrating with his wife and two kids to Australia in 1988. He now works as an administrative officer for the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
Fernando claims to have arrived at the idea of devising a new calendar from “inspiration.” He was driving to work one day in January 1992 when “31, 30, 30 start Monday” kept flashing in his mind.
After some time Fernando realized what the combination meant: a series of days within a three-month period. Eight months later, he finished his “Aristean” calendar complete with a position paper to support it.
As an instrument of God, he claims to be merely following His plan of presenting the calendar to the world. Here, said Fernandez, are several signs from above:
“My mother’s name is Gregoria, similar to the currently used Gregorian calendar,” he said. “My grandmother’s name, on the other hand, is Julita, similar to the old Julian calendar.” Fernando believes that he, or at least his first name, would be next in line.
The capital letters AMA, the Filipino word for father, appeared at the beginning of several paragraphs in an article about him in an Australian magazine. Such a configuration, he insisted, was no mere coincidence but a sign from God the Father Himself.
“I believe it is through this calendar that the world will know me,” he said in the article. “This is how I will promote my other ideas.”
Fernando mentioned other instances which we found too strained and farfetched. Lest a promising idea gets muddled, we asked him to limit his talk on the calendar’s supposed merits. For someone filled with esoteric visions, the soft-spoken man sounded lucid enough.
Because of the constant day-date relationship, people can memorize the days in which birthdays, anniversaries and public holidays would fall, he said.
“Parties and other special occasions would be easier to schedule and plan. If they don’t want to celebrate their birthday on Monday or Friday, then they can pick a more favorable day to do it.”
Since it’s similar to the present calendar, Fernando thinks many people won’t have a hard time switching to his calendar.
For one, its divisions of months, quarters and half-years are said to be more uniform. The days are either 30 or 31 days in a month, 91 or 92 days in a quarter, and 182 or 183 days in a half-year.
In addition, dates within a certain week are fixed. Week one, for example, is from Jan 1 to 7, while week 52 is from Dec. 24 to 31.
“The superstitious won’t have to worry either because the 13th will never fall on a Friday,” he added. “Besides, this is an environment-friendly calendar.”
A thing of the past
Unsold diaries and calendar would be a thing of the past because they could be displayed in stores anytime. Provided they remain free from markings, existing calendars could be used again next year. Less demand for paper would naturally mean less trees to cut.
Should he incur the ire of people who earn from these planners and calendars, Fernando is confident he would gain more friends and supporters from environmental groups.
Still, he knows convincing people to try a new idea won’t be easy, especially those belonging to certain religions. This is because the concept he wishes to replace has been existing for more than 400 years.
“The same thing happened when the Gregorian calendar was first introduced by the Catholic Church in 1582,” he explained. “The English people and certain Protestant groups didn’t use it until after 200 years. Russians and Chinese started using it 350 years later.”
To a patient man like Fernando, that’s the least of his worries.
Corrections: 1. Christmas Day (December 25) would always fall on a Tuesday.
2. Fernando worked in Saudi Arabia as an Assistant Planning Engineer.
3. He now works at the country’s Department of Defence.
4. His surname is Fernando and not Fernandez.
5. The capital letters AMA appeared in an Australian newspaper.