We ordinarily think of free time as spare time. Usually, it is evenings or weekends when we are already off from work. It is meant to spend it on leisure activities and enjoyment. With the lockdown, every time has become free time. By now, it is probable that instead of enjoying free time, you really do not know what to do with free time anymore. From being enjoying, it has now become darn right annoying. Boredom is real…. but only for those who are not creative yet with what to do with the super-duper surplus of free time.

If truth be told, I noticed myself not looking at my watch these days. There is actually no need of it. It goes without saying that other than all appointments had been canceled, we are altogether stuck up in our homes. Free time then has meant not just as a simple phrase but as a slogan of the sort – freedom from time. We free ourselves of time. Voila! We are no longer busy. But we have turned bored.

When will this be over? Again, we think of time. Will the quarantine period for the whole country be extended to another month yet? Is it possible to be exempted locally? Many, if not everybody, are already on their knees begging and looking forward to that time when the crisis brought about by COVID-19 would end.

How lockdown time has changed a lot of things, including people. How we make use of free time varies from being too boring to becoming bizarre to turning crazy (Tiktok pa more!). Iba na ang panahon ngayon (panahon as time). There have been noticeable shifts in time. Before coronavirus has taken over our time, we have to stay away from negative people; right now, we must keep your distance from positive people. Dati, mga bata ang hindi pinalalabas ng bahay; ngayon, mga senior citizens na ang bawal lumabas. Ever, the biggest shift in time I have noticed is the case of the balut vendor- from nighttime up to midnight before, he sells now at noontime since curfew dropped to early evening at six. He told me, “Gagawan talaga ng paraan po para mabuhay. Mabuti naman po to, kahit papaano ay hindi ako puyat.” Another observable use of free time is via social media. Before the lockdown, what was being uploaded were only food stuffs on a plate. But right now, kung paano niluto ang ulam ay naka upload na rin. Free time galore.

Quite honestly, especially the Filipino psyche and culture, have we truly been conscious of time? What do we actually mean when our patience is being challenged to wait then suddenly we would exclaim, “Filipino time kasi e”. It is not uncommon, especially at weddings, when I am told, “We can start on time at 3pm, Father, ‘cos in the invitation we put 230pm.” … Uh-oh! So, what time is Filipino time? Or, what kind of time is Filipino time?

Going back to free time as a slogan. Can we really be free of time or away from time? Never. We could put out any chronometer watch or wall clocks but never dispatch with time. Even without the measurement of a clock, one would actually sense what time is it at any given moment. In prehistoric times, the Egyptians had sundial through a shadow to track time; the Greeks had clepsydra which used water as a time tracker. And on this time of lockdown, it is quite interesting how I myself recognize time even without a watch or an alarm clock. When the rooster crows and the birds chirp, it is time to get up in the morning. When tummy grumbles, it is time to break the fast. When the sun is up at its highest position, it is definitely time for lunch. When tiny lizards do come down to the grounds it signals a time to supper. To yawn is absolutely a time to prepare to close the day. In view of the foregoing, who needs a watch or a clock when here and now the time is free time?

Last but definitely not least, we are currently confronted by how we look at time. Unquestionably though, we do not possess time. Even our own time is not properly and rightfully ours. It belongs to someone who is above and beyond time. That is why it is called as borrowed time. Or better yet, it must be deemed as shared time with the one who is known to have the fullness of time. This being the case, time is no longer time, neither is it free time, it has become as time eternal. Else, we ask not what time is it, rather whose time is it?