PART of the brave deeds chronicled by Dr. Tiongco were of those who chose to question the institutionalized expectation that medical professionals who endured the training in UP-PGH would migrate abroad and benefit from practicing there, never mind that it would be at expense of Filipinos who needed their ministrations. And their courage was the same: whether it was the doctor who evaded the net of Martial rule and participated in the armed challenge to repression and dictatorship; or the doctor who went back to Mindanao to serve those in need—and there would be many in an island and a people that would feel the brunt of repression and dictatorship.
One could argue that Dr. Tiongco and his contemporaries have many opportunities to be courageous, and that in fact, those times required courage as a matter of course. But militarization and despotism are not requisites for bravery; there are many reasons to take a stand and go against the grain in our everyday. And I do not mean being combative as a matter of habit, but to be prepared to think and act differently and ask—as Dr. Tiongco did—“why not?” rather than grudgingly go along, only to later wearily ask “what for?”
I sometimes fear that we give too much premium to fitting in, and ensuring that things run predictably and smoothly in our circles, whether as family, community, organization, office or society. Indeed, when I asked myself what my latest brave deed was, it took a while to think up an answer. What about you? What was your most recent act of courage? We need to allow for change processes to become part of the everyday, to not shirk from acts of courage, and to live with the tension that comes when the state of affairs get unsettled/disturbed, are settled/resolved, go through a period of settling/calming, and potentially become unsettled again.
When the tendency to settle for what is convenient overcomes us, it is important that we look for ways to be inspired and fired up. It could mean reading a compelling text, listening to refreshing views, observing and being immersed in a rousing deed, or contemplating through meditative acts. Also, let us not forget to periodically hold ourselves accountable by asking about what we actually dared accomplish, or the risks we took.
If “patawarin mo naman ako kasi masyado mo akong minamahal” can take on a different meaning for a Mindanawon learning to speak and own conversational Filipino, “how dare you?” could also serve, not as a rebuke, but a genuine—if awkward—inquiry into one’s acts of daring.
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