Tourism has been one of the main highlights at Angeles City in the province of Pampanga. When looking for a good restaurant or an amusement center, Angeles City would have one at every corner. Deca Wake Park is worth the visit even if it’s located in a quite isolated village away from the main city. And with Valentine’s Day smooching the air two weeks ago, Clark Freeport Zone has been packed with tourists that fell in love with everything that flies at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. We were one of the first visitors to check in just to see hot air balloons for the first time.
(I acknowledge my friends Cristina Sison and Ritz Ricardo for their pictures in this wonderful one-day event. I am awestruck by the beauty of their shots.)
Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta:
We had a nearly fifteen-minute walk along the dusty highway from the point where the tricycle was allowed to pass. Tired but happy, we stopped in for a late lunch at a mall near Clark Freeport Zone. We were expectant because all of us were first-timers at the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.
The Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is a yearly airshow event where aviators from around the world gather to showcase the beauty and awareness of aviation. Entrance to this event was at Php300 (US $6.31). February 11 was the first of the four-day event and a lot had already arrived.
I was thrilled at the sound of jet planes zooming above us. Paragliders jumped into the air like rainbow dandelions, gently dropping upon the green treeless field. Kids and adults alike raced around the open spaces with their fancy kites dancing with the wind. Sights and sounds filled the air with excitement. Everybody was waiting for the flight of the hot air balloons at dusk and most of them were there since morning.
Various booths were set up all around the venue while everyone was waiting for the day’s main highlight. Some of these booths are from the Philippine Air Force, where visitors could try their military gear and machinery. I smiled as I posed for the camera while wearing the heavy bulletproof vest, helmet, and safely locked gun. It’s no joke lifting these weapons around. I wonder what kind of discipline these soldiers undergo to wear such heavy gear while going into battle.
The interesting part in these photo ops was the military camouflage. Imagine my uneasiness while wearing grass all over my body while trying to focus on the target (even though there was not one). I then poked around the exhibits of various military air gear, other weapons such as hand granades and smoke bombs, and military planes and other vehicles. It’s a privilege when we civilians have been given a glimpse of how a soldier’s life goes. Because of what I had experienced and seen at the exhibit, I salute the Philippine soldiers for their discipline and stamina to serve the country.
The announcer at the main stage gave everyone a heads up that the balloons might not fly that day because the winds might be too strong. If the balloons fly when the winds are fast, it might pose danger to the balloon and to the operators of the balloon as well. Fortunately, some of the balloons were able to fly at dusk. However, most of them were commercialized balloons.
So, did we get to ride on one of them? Nope. We don’t have budget for that yet. How much would a balloon ride be? I better not guess.
After some minutes of balloon showcase we went around to check on some of the booths we haven’t seen. We passed on more military planes on display. When we thought that the
hot air balloon showcase was over, more of them came up into the night sky!
Too sad our cameras could not catch the beauty of some of these fancy balloons in the dark. Besides that, the gang wanted to go home to catch the bus to Cubao early. I was fortunate to take a ride straight back to my hometown in Bulacan. And it was the last trip of the day!
I assumed that the last day of the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Festival would have had more fancy balloons than the first day. Still, we had fun at our visit and I would like to return again to see more fancy balloons next time.