#Hugot: a uniquely Filipino phenomenon

“There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.”

“She loved me at my worst. You had me at my best.”

“I will fall asleep beside you and hope we dream the same dream. I will wrap my arms around you and listen to the silence of two heartbeats.”

There are, perhaps, many other lines in the canon of worldwide literature, film, and poetry that gain better recognition in the art of capturing the ever-elusive feelings of love, heartbreak, and everything in between, but none so much encapsulate the phenomenon of Filipino hugot of recent years as much as those presented above.

Indeed, in searching the very movies from whence the lines originated, the Google search bar was quick to present “hugot lines” as an accompanying suggestion, in turn suggesting the very popularity of the phenomenon itself, at least among local users. And indeed, social media has all but been a breeding ground for post after post of such cryptic one-liners in the past recent years, when #HugotLines saw their peak – nearly anyone and everyone with a dollop of #feelings and a Twitter account, so it seemed, had a Hugot Line or two to deliver on any kind of love, relationship, or heartbreak — more often than not channeling such sentiments into mundane, unrelated subjects. The more unrelated the subjects, the further the reach of the hugot, the better.

And thus, the Hugot Culture was born. Such indeed was its reach, the very capability of the hugot power to capture mass audiences, that Filipino media was quick to pick up on the trend, producing movie after movie that have served as bedrocks and hotbeds for Hugot Lines, feeding into the growing phenomena of the culture. The audiences responded, channeling their own #feels into the unrequited romances and friendzones of the screen. And back and forth they went, propagating a culture of constant heartstring-tugging and wistful bitter recollection until they became a norm in conversations, most typically in the teenage range.

The phenomenon was not lost either in the likes of local advertising – brands and moguls were quick to capitalize on the vastness of the phenomenon in the people’s collective psyche, producing similarly heartstring-tugging ads that might as well have been short films in their complexity and depth. Perhaps at the forefront of it all were Jollibee’s #KwentongJollibeeValentinesSeries trilogy, which built on stories of romance, loss, and heartbreak – perhaps the very trifecta of the Hugot Phenomenon.

But at the very core of such grim oversharing is the imminently human characteristic of socializing with others, and – perhaps more substantially – the largely Filipino trait of pakikiramay – that is, empathy. The hugot is, after all, a uniquely Filipino experience in that it demonstrates the capability – the ease – of Filipinos in baring our innermost feelings incorporated into decidedly witty, cryptic lines if only to elicit a laugh or response from our companions. In this, there is a sense of companionship, of shared laughter, in the knowing comfort that others share our similar pain and sentiments, and still choose, despite it all, to laugh. Hashtag relatable.

And though the #HugotCulture may be young and saturated, and maybe a little overbearing, it is by and large ultimately a product of our own imbibed sense of community – and one that is uniquely Filipino. Truly, there are all kinds of love in this world, but never quite like what we have for each other. Hashtag hugot.

Featured photo from Jollibee and McCann

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