Why Filipinos Love “HUGOT”
You’ve seen it all before—from cheesy pickup lines made into viral memes to heartbreaking quotes from melancholy movies. The so-called hugot culture is rampant in Philippine society, made even more so now that viral trends and memes can be shared and passed on virtually anywhere and to anyone. While “hugot” literally means to pull something out, in today’s terms, the word has taken on a whole new meaning—one that emphasizes the deep and emotionally scarring pain that comes from heartbreak. Just why do Filipinos love to hurt themselves with hugot lines so much?
1. Sadness lies deep in every one of us.
Especially right around Valentine’s season, we see an explosion of lines and quotes on both love and heartbreak on social media. Everyone has had his or her own experience of heartbreak, and we are no stranger to the pain that love can bring. This is probably why hugot lines have such a deep impact on us, and why we can relate pretty much anything—from ordinary events of everyday life to momentous milestones—to sadness and heartbreak. Even something as simple as taking the train on a mind-numbing commute can be attributed to some semblance of heartbreak, effectively giving birth to the “minsan” series of memes on social media. Bittergourds, everyday items, and even simple adjectives are related to heartbreak to the point of being humorous, but perhaps that is precisely why we have these memes—to ease the heavy sadness that’s eating us up inside.
2. TV shows, films, and social media are all about hugot.
Big screen hits like One More Chance and That Thing Called Tadhana have all developed cult followings because of their hugot nature. These movies propagate the culture so much—and it’s working, because somehow, Filipinos just love a good tearjerker. Even television commercials have jumped on the bandwagon to create ads that tug at the heartstrings in the most painful way, especially with the success of local fast food giant Jollibee’s series of viral campaigns. These heart-wrenching advertisements include a best friend watching the love of his life getting married to someone else, a son dating his mom as a tribute to his dead father, and an unrequited childhood crush that blossoms into an adult romance. The latest installment also includes finding love in the simplest of places even as a single woman, and despite the happy ending, the whole commercial still sends teary “feels” to anyone who watches it.
Of course, social media is also one to blame for this hugot culture. It’s easy for hurtful and bitter memes to spread through our daily news feed on Facebook and Twitter, and because a lot of people can relate to the memes—albeit sometimes funny—word gets passed around faster than you can say, “Popoy and Basha”. We really do feel too much sometimes, don’t we?
3. Hugot is a coping mechanism.
And because we tend to feel too much and too deeply, indulging in tearjerkers and getting affected by invisible ninjas cutting up onions somewhere are all part of how Filipinos cope with sadness. We will always look for ways to channel our emotions and express our deepest hurts, and if those outlets come in the form of overly dramatic lines or comparing the cold weather to a cold ex-lover’s heart, then so be it. Hugot lines also tend to lean toward humor at times, and perhaps this is how we can ease the burden of those heartaches even for just a little bit. Laughing at our trials and tribulations has always been a distinct Filipino trait, and the same is true with deep-seated heartbreak. Perhaps we can reduce the power that the pain holds over us when we learn to see the humorous side of our relationship struggles, thus triumphing over it and conquering it.
4. Hugot culture promotes empathy.
The very Filipino concept of “pakikiramay” is very much alive in hugot culture. The simple act of sharing a viral post from one heartbroken soul to another in itself already extends the empathy—and sometimes, all we ever really want is for someone to understand what we are going through, and someone who has experienced the same thing. Filipinos tend to cluster together as a very close-knit family, and the emotional connection grows stronger when sadness or relationship woes are concerned. Perhaps our very dramatic culture has a hand in this societal phenomenon, because we will never run out of scarred hearts and wounded souls. The kind of cathartic effect of hugot makes people go through the pain and come out of it brighter, better, and ready for a new day ahead—and maybe, in a world where so much pain and suffering abound, all we really need is to know that we are not alone. In that sense, hugot really does go deep, don’t you think?