It’s the weekend, what are we going to do?

Published October 18, 2020, 10:30 AM

by AA Patawaran

What it means to take some time off now that Saturday and Sunday are just like the rest of the week

LIFE BEGINS ON THE WEEKENDS Clockwise from top left: Raul Manzano, Miguel Pastor, Francis Tolentino, Kaye Tinga, Patrick Martin, and (inset) Carla Abellana

With all these shutdowns, time has become one of two things—to some of us, it’s an endlessly long weekend and to the others, it’s a never-ending week. Which one is it for you?

To lifestyle retailer and philanthropist Kaye Tinga, the line has blurred, if not totally gone. “Weekdays are incredibly long,” she says. “The work day has been extended. There is no 9 to 5 window or, in my case, with my store, W/17, no 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. store hours anymore.”

Architect Miguel Pastor agrees. “There is absolutely no distinction,” he explains. “I report for work thrice a week, Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. This means I alternate between weekend and work mode every other day. It has become a joke when we ask each other in the office what we will be doing on our ‘day off.’ To make that distinction in my line of work, I usually would schedule my site inspections on Tuesdays or Thursdays. This maximizes the time I spend in the office.”

WORK IT The line between work and private time has been blurred

Among the lifechanging ways the pandemic has upended our lives, changing it drastically for the better or for the worse, is that we’ve had to put the daily grind on hold. Wish granted for the lot of us, but it’s one thing to spend all day every day in your pajamas in the early weeks of the lockdown, it’s quite another that it’s dragged on for over seven months. You might say lucky are those quarantined on the seaside or in a house with a huge garden or in the farm or on a mountain, yes, but who wants a life that is a weekend that never ends?

For those of us who’ve had to work from home from the start, however, it has been endless days in front of our computer screen, even the hours spent for eating, lazing around, rest and relaxation, doing personal errands, or weekend getaways. In those early months after the world went bananas over the coronavirus scare, many of us went on overdrive, making up for our physical absence in the office. Besides, what else was there to do to keep us from sulking or being afraid? Work was a welcome distraction, at the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome (from holding your smartphone all day), stiff necks, and backache.

HEALTHY BREAK Try home workouts or yoga

As a result, we’ve lost track of time, and if Jose Mari Chan didn’t start singing his standard Christmas carols, we would not have been aware that from mid-March, yet to wrap up our New Year greetings, we seemed to have time traveled into the brrr months. Hey, it’s October, the holidays are coming up, and we’re ready to take back our weekends.

But how exactly does the weekend feel if it’s no different from the rest of the week? What is the pleasure of lazy weekend mornings if, in fact, they have now become lazy everyday mornings that can drag well into interminable afternoons and into uneventful evenings? For the busy bees, on the other hand, how to take time off, when work never ends, more constant than WiFi, and always urgent because you can do it now, whether now is at lunch or at 4 in the morning?

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Actor, radio DJ, and musician Markki Stroem is among the lucky ones. In his line of work and to the rhythm of his days, the pandemic has not caused too much of a disruption.  “I have a radio show called The Morning Rush on RX 93.1, from Monday to Friday, so work has not halted. Weekends are when I don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m.,” he muses. “Life has kept going despite the quarantine. So time off is still coveted. I usually just go home to my parents in Antipolo on the weekends.” On weekdays, he makes time for afternoon naps. “Because I have to wake up so early, between two and four in the afternoon, I nap,” he adds. “On off hours, I play Pokemon Go and watch Netflix or work out to relax my mind.”

I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.

Audrey Hepburn

It’s not the same for Metro Society editor Raul Manzano who, since the early days of the quarantine, has made a point of keeping certain hours of the day devoted to his wellbeing and escape. “3 a.m. to 6 a.m. That is when I run and have free time for myself. I have a good playlist and I just get lost in my world,” he says. Now, with work almost back in full swing, he has to make conscious effort to spend some time away from work. Apart from running, his other favorite activity is cooking, “which is when I let my imagination run wild,” he beams. So how does he differentiate the weekend from his weekdays?  “Time off is heading for Hermana Mayor (an isolated island off Zambales) and staying there for at least three days. It’s my paradise on earth,” Raul says. “Weekdays are full of Zoom meetings while weekends—zero!”

Zero is also the amount of work Kaye Tinga does on the weekend, or at least on Sunday. “I try to limit work-related activities on Saturday, and definitely zero work on Sunday. On Sundays, I just lounge—no zoom meetings, no work, no exercise, or anything at all other than chilling with the family,” she says. “Always being connected is quite anxiety-inducing, so time off is disconnecting from the rest of the world even briefly. My hubby and I would leave our phones at home when we take walks.” For relaxation, Kaye turns to “Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Go or a good book.”

To Miguel Pastor, “time off is when you’re able to gather a few friends over lunch or dinner after work or during the weekend. I am happy that the government has allowed small gatherings to happen as they help release much pressure and frustration from the kind of life we have been living since the quarantine was imposed.” Netflix to him has also been godsend, along with VIU and YouTube. “I am usually glued to the screen from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.,” he says, adding that finding time to do his routine in the gym through Core Kinesis is just as relaxing. “I value this time as this is the only form of exercise I am engaged in,” he says.

For Patrick Martin, it’s simple: Weekdays are for work. “Weekends are for the people I care about, including myself,” says the digital content creator, who defines time off as being with yourself while working on your overall well-being. “I always allot at least two hours in the morning to meditate and work on my health and fitness. This sweet spot happens between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., while everyone else is asleep,” he adds. “I find reading self-improvement articles therapeutic. I also allow myself to get out and do some adventure from time to time, either on the mountains or in the ocean.” 

Easy does it on the weekends for actor Carla Abellana. “I save errands, appointments, projects, work, and workouts for weekdays,” she explains. “I usually go easy on myself on the weekends.” Often, her pleasures are as easy as just staying in bed, watching Netflix or YouTube, having a cup of coffee outside, and taking naps in the afternoon. “Feels so good,” she beams. But even on weekdays, Carla devotes sacred time for relaxation. “Most mornings,” she says. “Just having a cup of coffee or lying around on the sofa or in bed.”

PORTAL TO THE WORLD OF CHILL A cup of coffee and a good book can turn a normal day into a getaway

It hasn’t been as easy for chef and businessman Francis Tolentino, who runs bars and restaurants, such as Studio 28, Loft, and Almacen. But he doesn’t let the challenges of the pandemic ruin his weekends. “What I do on weekdays is pencil pushing on how to make my business survive the pandemic and help my staff get through this,” he says. “On weekends, I tell myself that I’ve done my part in helping my team for the week, so I shut down my laptop and it’s time to drink a bottle of wine or two.” What does time off mean to him now? “Not thinking about the business, watching Netflix, and listening to Whitney Houston,” he says. “And wine, of course, as well as karaoke and catching up with lockdown friends.”

Not all of us can spend the weekend on the beach or up the mountains, but we all need some time off, especially in these tough times, even if all we can manage is a gadget-free lunch or 15 minutes of meditation. Start by reclaiming your weekends to restore your senses and to replenish your energy reserves. Better yet, steal time out of your every day, especially on the most stressful weekdays, to start mornings slowly, to take restorative breaks in the afternoon, and to unwind at night for some restful sleep. But what are you doing this weekend?