UST’S new Tiger statue on Plaza Mayor has appeared to attract “superstitious” students, who were seen placing objects, such as instant noodle packs and even money in its mouth, supposedly to help them in the exams. 

So, were these students — of a Catholic university at that — placing their bets on an animal figure? Not really, according to a sociology lecturer, who dispelled the idea of superstition behind the emerging practice. 

“I wouldn’t even call it superstition; it’s just appropriation,” Asst. Prof. Bubbles Beverly Asor, a sociology lecturer at the University of the Philippines, told the Varsitarian.

“Since the tiger is a central feature of the University, people will appropriate certain things and attach meaning to it even though this is not the intention at all.”

The practice is not an institutionalized belief, value or norm, so it would be an “overstretch” to deem it superstition or idolatry, she said. 

“Superstition, in terms of norm-making, takes years to be established as one. [The tiger statue], may nag-cocontest pa. It means hindi pa siya established as a superstition,” she said.

Habitualization could also be at play, said Mark Godwin Villareal, lecturer at the UST Sociology Department, wherein an action frequently repeated turns into a pattern that people accept as it is because others created it for them.

“That kind of habitualization concept is the same for the student who thought of offering or putting money in the mouth of the ‘tiger display’ to have some luck in order to pass the exam. The student might be coming from a religious family where they are used to [offering] something,” he told the Varsitarian.

To some students, it’s just for fun.

Naisip ko ‘yung money frog, then nilagyan ko ng piso and nag-wish [ako] para sa thesis at maka-graduate since last year na namin as architecture student[s],” Neil Justin Martinez, a fifth-year architecture student, told the Varsitarian.

James Edver Mercado, a third-year student from the College of Accountancy, said the “wishing tiger” created a culture of belongingness and symbolized hope for Thomasians.

“Same logic siya sa kung bakit bawal lumabas sa Arch kapag hindi pa ga-graduate. The Arch is a symbol of our journey. The Tiger, on the other hand, could be a symbol of hope for us Thomasians,” he said. With reports from Faith Nicole S. Gelacio


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