I JUST realized that every time I schedule to go down for a meeting and tell friends, they just nod their head and say... What's new?

"Grabe ka" is what they always say. They also ask me if I don't ever get tired from it. They wonder why I don't get tired, as I do the driving too. I just don't get tired from driving.

Sometimes, I have meetings for just an hour or two then decide to just drive back to Baguio again.

While I may have a place to stay of my own in the Southern part of the Metro, the family has also a halfway house in the Northern Metro. A small studio located in the middle, in Rockwell.

The studio is just a flat for any of us taking post graduate courses in Ateneo which is just walking distance. It is sometimes home for Joy and my son when they would swim and compete in the University of Makati which is just a jeep ride away.

Sometimes, I request for a meeting in Makati so I can stay in the same flat. The restaurants in the area are all worth it anyway. No one minds my special request.

In short, I have no reason not to attend meetings scheduled in Manila as we have strategically positioned a place to stay for any of the family that is close by.

It is not that. Despite those that I mentioned, I would still rather come back to the mountains in the comfort of my comforter in my bed. Whatever time it may take.

But there is just something that I realized of late. It is not the energy that I have or the vehicle I take. I just happen to realize how much TOLL I have paid every time. I realize it does take a toll.

Kennon Road thru DPWH will collect P15. Until I reach Urdaneta, I will enter TPLEx, upon exit I will pay 216 pesos. From there I will reach SCTEx then NLEx. A sum for the two expressways will cost me P322 this time. At least, that is one common payment for the expressways unlike then.

Once, I traversed TPLEx 22 times for free. Yup.

The traverse along EDSA is free but not from traffic. If my scheduled meeting is in Quezon City, then I will have no problem with lodging as we are fortunate to have a place to stay just by Edsa. Usually, I will do a round trip for this since I am nearer Balintawak to exit the Metro.

Most often, I will head down South where I will enter the Skyway after EDSA. Here, I will shell out another P164 before exiting Zapote/Alabang Road. I would at times take a longer way and take Cavitex for just P24 depending on the traffic situation.

Any scheduled meeting in Manila or Makati will cost me the same every time I use the Skyway. Down below in SLEx it is cheaper, but just by P42 and with all the trucks, behind, ahead, left and right of you. A toll it is in traffic too.

Oh I don't use Waze for my travels. Only local knowledge with that of my "spare" driver. Normally when we are held in traffic do we, in the middle of the highway exchange seats.

I will jump from driver side inside to the passenger side, while the spare will get out of the car and enter the driver’s side. This has happened along NLEx a couple of times and also along EDSA. A 10 second maneuver.

Oh we always carry an empty bottle in the vehicle where I have at many times relieved myself without changing lanes and while staying in our lane when stuck in traffic.

It just takes its toll on me especially when there is an accident or rain. Surely traffic. Sometimes a sudden setback when Highway Patrol or MMDA will flag you down.

Once for a change of plate, my mistake, I paid for it, as I was brought to Camp Crame. After some explaining I was let off. Another for having no plate at the back? Nonesense. I just left. Oh, I explained that there was no way for me to put my plate as it did not have any holes. Speeding...never.

The meetings I attend are either voluntarily or at most P1,500 per diem. And that is just for Toll. So there you go. I'm riding toll.