UST barricades the tiger statue at the Plaza Mayor with stanchion barriers and removes the coins placed in its mouth after it became a make-believe wishing well for Thomasians during prelims week. (Photo by Angela Antonette B. Bautista/ The Varsitarian)

UST has barricaded the new tiger statue at the Plaza Mayor and removed the coins placed in its mouth after it was turned into a “wishing well” by Thomasians during preliminary exam week.

The tiger statue went viral on Oct. 5 after photos of it with its mouth full of coins made the rounds on social media. The coins were supposedly placed in the tiger statue’s mouth to wish for good grades.

On Oct. 7, the statue was barricaded with stanchion barriers.

A day before the statue was barricaded, Facilities Management Office Director Fr. Dexter Austria, O.P. posted a photo that showed the statue with coins and a pack of instant noodles in its mouth. Several coins spilled over to the ground.

“More than our moral obligation to take good care of our properties in UST, catechesis is urgently needed if we want to be faithful to the Church teachings as Thomasians,” Austria said in his post.

“Yes, the tiger statue is not an object of devotion… Pray to God through the saints for intercession instead,” he added.


Several Thomasians called out the University for supposedly being a “killjoy.”

A theology instructor said that while some might justify putting coins in the statue’s mouth as a whim, such actions could become common practice.

“I believe the concern of those who reacted against it is that this might eventually become an urban legend and a common practice among Thomasians,” Leo Ocampo, an Institute of Religion faculty member, told the Varsitarian.

“This would be very unbecoming of UST as a Catholic University because it would then really start to give off an impression of superstition. Besides, doing so is unsightly and might potentially cause damage to one of our important University symbols that we must all take care of,” he added.

The revamped tiger and UST block letters at the Plaza Mayor were unveiled in August to represent UST overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Father Rector (Fr. Richard Ang, O.P.) thought of something to best symbolize our rising over the pandemic, in bringing back our hope to the present and in strengthening our unity as one Thomasian community,” Austria said as the structures were unveiled on Aug. 9.

The new tiger statue is that of an 8-foot Bengal tiger designed by Anthony Zamora, a former faculty member of the College of Fine Arts and Design, while the new block letters were changed to the Trajan Pro font.

Ocampo said such superstitions could be considered sinful since the Church teaches that all good things come from God alone.

Ocampo added that superstitions were also sins against common sense. St. Thomas Aquinas attributed them to the lack of a critical mind, he said.

Although Ocampo thinks no Thomasian seriously believed putting something in the statue’s mouth would make them pass an exam, he suggested that Thomasians put their hopes and faith in God instead.

“As our local wisdom puts it, ‘Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa;’ not in the tiger statue’s mouth or anywhere else,” Ocampo said. M.S. Orozco


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