I thought that was what we were supposed to do, until I saw it in action. Now I hate it.
“Kailangan madiskarte ka.”
This was what a relative told me right after I graduated. He must have thought I needed a pep talk before I joined the unfamiliar world of adults. He was right.
So I took every advice. Asked for it, even. I was always a learner. I didn’t have any filter for the advice given to me.
“Diskarte” seemed like an important, positive word. If anyone wants to be successful, he needs to have it. If you don’t have it, you’ll get left behind.
The word seems harmless, but semantics is a tricky domain. We often have different interpretations of the word. I have my own, and my advice-giving relative has his own.
It was 6 p.m. in Makati when I lined up for the bus. Well, let me rephrase that. It was 6 p.m. in Makati when I stood at the bus stop. There was no visible queue. Men were scattered in front with one or two women. Most of the women were far in the back with older people and those accompanied by children.
It was one of my first few commutes. The first time I experienced rush hour. Naively, I told the men around, “Paunahin po natin ‘yung mga matatanda tsaka babae.” None of them looked at me, but one spoke, “’Di ka makakauwi niyan. Dapat madiskarte ka.”
Memories of my relative flashed back. I remembered that one time when he crossed the pedestrian lane when the light was still red. “Wala naman nanghuhuli, tsaka nagmamadali tayo,” he said. At another time, he told my brother it was okay to cheat because, in his words, “kanya kanyang diskarte lang ‘yan.”
I realized it was not just this relative of mine. It’s a lot of people I know. You’re probably remembering similar people now. But sometimes, it’s also me. It’s also probably you, too.
It’s easy to follow the rules when things are going well. But when it’s time to rush or when we have to pass the subject, suddenly the ideal thing to do is to let go of our principles for the sake of diskarte. For the sake of not falling behind.
We’re probably the worst at this in the world. We’re the only country that boasts of resourcefulness as a virtue. But for whose sake? It’s only for ourselves.
Do we really fall behind when we hold on to our principles? Do we fall behind when we choose to let the older people get on the bus first? I did it daily for a couple of years, and I got home in every single instance. Oh, you have a family waiting for you? Those ladies, kids, and older people have families waiting for them, too. They’re more worried about them than your family would ever be worried about a strong, able, middle-aged man surviving the daily rush hour in the metro.
It’s never about other people when we choose to go this misplaced diskarte route. It’s always rooted in selfishness and self-centeredness.
I believe Filipinos are madiskarte, but diskarte for your own sake is no good.
Aside from resourcefulness, we are also the only country that boasts of “bayanihan.” We should bring that back.
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Ian Reginaldo D. Dilla, 24, lives in Quezon City.
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