Exploring University of Antique’s Hashtag Culture on Facebook: The Ethnography of Communication in Virtual Space

Authors: Edbert Jay Cabrillos (University of Antique, The Philippines)
Speakers: Edbert Jay Cabrillos
Strand: Ethnography of Communication
Session Type: General Session


The rapid development of the digital world has increased social media dialogue like hashtags have been widely known and documented. Written hashtags, in particular, have been intensified by the upshot of the global health crisis where people have engaged often to interact and communicate through virtual platforms. However, social behavior and communication elicited symbols in the new normal which need to be interpreted. This paper analyzed the patterns of language and communication used by the University of Antique community on a public Facebook page through written hashtags. The study was conducted from March to July 2021. Qualitative research utilizing a virtual ethnography approach with participant observation and interviews in gathering data was employed. Results revealed that there were five identified hashtags used by the community: (1) #KrUhAy is a form of welcome and gratitude addressed to new members of the university and affiliates (e.g. stakeholders, government and academic officials, and private sectors); (2) #BUsAlian is an expression addressed to someone who has great and excellent achievements (e.g. faculty and staff, and student); (3) #PanginbUlAhan is an expression of pleasure and admiration at another persons’ or group of persons’ success in any academic and non-academic accomplishments (e.g. faculty and staff, and students); (4) #KasUbAy is a form official naming of the university’s community addressed to new members and affiliates (i.e. stakeholders, government or academic officials, private individuals); and (5) #BambUhAy is a form of an expression referring to university’s valued project on bamboo addressed to special occasions and endeavors involving bamboo or kawayan as the center of the event. All of these hashtags except the #BambUhAy traced their origin from the archaic Kinaray-a language. Patterns of language and communication showed that all written hashtags are associated with the socio-cultural tradition of the Karay-a people of Antique. The highlight of these expressions was the official acronym of the university’s name – UA – that stands for the University of Antique. Further, the way people communicate is deeply influenced by the culture in which they were raised. Contexts produced from the hashtags suggest that the university’s community has created its identity and pride showcasing its culture. Thus, language and communication patterns in written hashtags of the speech community are socially and culturally bound.

Keywords: Communication, culture and language, hashtags, Kinaray-a, University of Antique