IT WAS a trip away and up the mountains in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo. About two hours away is the highest mountain in South East Asia, majestic Mount Kinabalu. Mount Pulag is at 2,900+ meters while Kinabalu is up at 4,000+ meters.

We headed away from the PMA Homecoming to a place without any traffic and hassle. Away from it all and up in the mountains.

"Away lang maaabutan, kung nandito kami."

Now that I'm back, we intend to be away again from it all. It will be another drive once more to Sagada with Joy and my two girls, Anne Drew and Joelle. It will be our second road trip, this same time of the year.

For a number of years now and since after my stint in government, I always have the time to get out from the heat of Panagbenga. The day of the Grand Street Parade.

Just an overnight trip and will return when the Grand Float Parade is already done. A leisurely afternoon trip back, probably after lunch and some souvenir and pasalubong shopping.

Normally, it is some bread from Masferré and Blueberry Jam, a lot of it as it will be till the next year again. A whole year of supply and gifts. Next, is always some Lemon Pie from the cooperative by the hospital. Some Sagada etag and persimmons too.

It’s definitely a great escape. Away from it all.

But the last few years saw it differently as there lot of visitors in Sagada at this very same date and time. Tourist vans aplenty. Traffic always. "Away-away nanaman."

I will bring for this trip and like last, a Mini Cooper. A manual transmission at that. Perfect for the steep slopes, never ending curves, tight turns and streets, slow trucks and jeeps and always an available parking space.

For a number of years, it was always a 4X4 and an off-roader. It used to be dusty and at times muddy in some portions heading up. It is not the same anymore. Roads have all been paved. The Mini it is from now on.

However limited it may seem, it is a perfect fit just for four of us. Joy by my side and the girls at the back.

We normally leave at 4:30 in the early morning. Some festival participants already gathering along the way just outside our place before reaching South Drive. We will head up through Tip-Top in Beckel before turning to exit in Shilan. A new circumferential road just completed.

A routine stop is always at the highest peak in Atok for some photographs till sunrise in very cold temperatures. Then breakfast of fresh tomato spaghetti up at Mount Data Hotel with unlimited coffee.

Last year it was so cold we would not want to get out of the car. A time-lapse in our iPhone was impossible. We will try with a tripod this time. Up too was the temperature of the Mini to the highest. It was that cold up there last time.

So cold was it outside that my "pasaheros" would not want to get out for some photos. I of course will brave anything just for the shot for the sunrise shot and some selfie by the Highest Highway marker.

We will be doing the water falls this time after Kiltepan in the early morning for some coffee with manang Luz Capuyan in her Cafe. We hope to have some wild mushrooms and kamote like last year with the hot coffee. Away from the gathering crowds at Kiltepan.

I will be thawing myself out before the trip. Some sunshine while playing golf in Bulacan before picking up my pasaheros for the adventure in Sagada. Another away time for me from the traffic just this last days.

February is really busy times in Baguio, the flower festival that spans the month plus PMA Homecoming then the grand parades. I will be away for all of this. Happy Panagbenga every Juan. It is UP UP and AWAY for ME.