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Decoding UST’s Hug Culture: Why Thomasian Hugs Are ‘One Of A Kind’

Throwback to life before physical distancing.
IMAGE Twitter/pat_trix29, Candy Archives

When the pandemic hit us months before the school year ended, some students barely got the chance to formally say goodbye to their classmates and friends, and seniors didn’t even experience a physical graduation. By this point, we're pretty sure if we ask these students what they miss the most about the school, the number one answer would be their friends. (TBH, we’d say the same.)

With UST about to start a new academic year online, students, thanks to the University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council, started sharing their best memories of life in the university by posting using the #SaUSTLang hashtag. And we're telling you, the posts got nostalgic fast.

Apparently, according to the replies, USTe has this thing called "hug culture" where students hug each other randomly to give comfort, and Olaf is totally jealous of it. 

If you are curious about USTe's yakap culture, we asked some of their students and alumni to expound on what makes them different from *normal* hugs. 

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"From 'home of the ghosters' to 'hug culture,' it's definitely a Thomasian thing."

According to Angelica Mae Ortiz, a BS Medical Technology alumna, it's their counterpart of beso. Instead of the good old beso, Thomasians hug each other as a sign of greeting. 

"We usually hug each other that's why they say Thomasians hug warmly. That's when we realized why friends after college were too startled whenever we hug them as greetings. It's a Thomasian thing."

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Thomasian hugs offer a "different kind of support."

According to 18-year-old Accountancy student Blessie Marie Cervania, hugging each other even though you are not close friends is a common thing in UST. 

"Sa UST kasi, parang sobrang common na everyone hugs each other. Tipong may makakasalubong ka lang na kakilala mo, kahit 'di naman kayo super close, mag ha-hug kayo, gano'n. Sa UST ko lang nakita yung that kind of support for each other."

These are genuine and heartfelt hugs, no judgment.

It seems like a universal truth that hugging is a form of greeting when you pass someone you know. Abram Reyes, a second-year Biology major, agrees that it's something about being on campus.

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"When you're in a different place, you'll sometimes doubt to give a hug in public. But in UST, it's really normal."

A kind of comfort for anyone who's suffering from heartbreak and academic stress.

For Lynus Oliver del Mar, a Secondary Education student, it might be a simple gesture but it gives a lot of comfort for those who need it.

"Hugs after examinations, hugs of comfort kapag labasan na ng grades and/or heartbroken ang classmate, hugs to ease the academic stress. Kumbaga, part na siya sa bawat life as a Thomasian na hindi mawala-wala kasi we care for each other."

Means ~unli~ hugs for everyone.

For Behavioral Science student Julianne Cañaveral, yakap culture is seen as something innocent and inclusive.

"Unlike sa previous school ko kasi, sa UST I can just come up to my classmate (boy man or girl) and go straight for a hug without any question."

It makes stressful days more *bearable*

For Lizzie Sanchez, Grade 12-HUMSS student, running to someone you know and getting a hug from them can be really comforting.

Only in UST!

"Sa UST lang din ako nakatanggap ng maraming yakap mula sa mga kaibigan ko," shares this Lit major. "Tuwing magsisi-uwian na kami, magyayakapan pa. Tuwing hell week at tapos na yung exams, magyayakapan kami. Sa UST, araw-araw kang makakatanggap ng yakap, to the point na normal or casual na yung yakap.

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He also believes that when this pandemic is over and social distancing will be a thing of the past, they will all back to hugging each other *tightly* again. 

"Actually, expected na pagkatapos nitong pandemic at makakabalik sa kami sa UST, alam na naming lahat na magyayakapan kami ng mahigpit once na magre-reunite na ang lahat."

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