Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘Pampanga’

Breathing Adventure: Fluttering Fun On the Weekend Where Everything Flies at Clark Airbase (Angeles City, Pampanga)

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.)

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Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta:

12734128_552344794932700_9105380592415042712_nWe 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.

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A paraglider

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Kites littered the sky

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.

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Various booths were set up all around the venue while everyone was waiting for the day’s12743731_552336404933539_2509382586622421281_n 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.

IMG_20160211_165949The interesting part in these photo ops was the military camouflage. Imagine my uneasiness while wearing grass all over 12688241_552341161599730_1024070137905064264_nmy 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.

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Exhibit of military air gear

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Exhibit of hand grenades and smoke bombs

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The balloons carrying the name of various sponsors

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

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A baby dinosaur is coming out of its balloon shell! Roar!

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.

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Breathing Adventure: Riding the Waves at Deca Wake Park (Angeles City, Pampanga)

Angeles City in Pampanga is just one of the Philippines’ sought after tourist spots. From restaurants to amusement centers, most of these were made to cater tourists, especially the foreign ones, who arrive in the country from Clark Airport. But local tourism also abound in this area. As Valentine’s Day arrived two weeks ago, it was also celebrated with the yearly Hot Air Balloon Fiesta at Clark Freeport Zone. But before we went balloon watching, we first tried another, action-packed amusement park in the area.

Deca Wake Park:

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The air was cool but the sun was beginning to scorch when we arrived at the Deca Wake Park. We came an hour earlier from its opening time which was at 9:30am. While munching on some chips left over from our two-hour travel from Manila, we chatted excitedly on how we would glide over the pool now glimmering beneath the cloudless sky a few hours later. Now should have been the perfect time to go wakeboarding. But half of me was musing to back out of it while still early.

12717555_552330858267427_2206368371811374102_nDeca Wake Park is one of the exciting places to visit when dropping by Angeles City, Pampanga. Water sport enthusiasts and adventurers alike plunk their boards and surf through the waters while being towed by an electronically-maneuvered cable. Looks easy for the sun-tanned surfers here. For beginners like us, it’s a dread.

For me, at least. It’s been nearly ten years ago since I first tried wakeboarding at a

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The author now putting the wakeboard on water in the beginner’s pool

company outing. But I never succeeded anyway. Besides, I’ve witnessed how one of my friends had an injury when a loose cable pulled her arm after she fell into the water.

That same friend was with us at our second attempt to go into this sport. Lans did not have a bit of that injury or even that dread as she lined up at the beginner’s pool. That’s where every beginner should be practicing before flawlessly surfing over the main wakeboarding pool. We need to succeed…well, at least make a perfect round.

Thursday is a lucky day for girls at Deca Wake Park. It offered a 50 percent discount for the whole day wakeboarding experience for ladies only. Usual price for whole day stay is at Php

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The lucky ladies: the author (left), Lans (middle), and Ritz (right)

1000, but we got to pay only half of it provided that we stay here for four hours or so.

Back at the beginner’s pool, I was ready to quit at the back of my mind. I thought of just keep on falling into the water until we go to our next itinerary for the day. But I kept on coming back. I appreciate the instructor for specifically pointing my mistakes before I begin again.

Then, ride the waves again. Then, fall. Over. And over.

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Our instructor demonstrates how to wakeboard

Until I gained balance. But that did not guarantee I could make a 360-degree turn in the pool. That was the hardest part. The moment I got at that point, I forgot every direction our instructor told me. Then, I drowned…

Of course, I did not. The pool was too shallow for that to happen. And we were wearing life vests and helmets. But I had to get out of the pool fast or I might get injured by the then loose cable.

To keep yourself safe from loose cables, you can duck your head into the water or just keep it low as you get to the shore as fast as you could. Having legs good for swimming could help, too.

Soon, I felt pain on my arm after countless rounds and endless failures. That’s why stretching  or a daily workout is important before getting into any sport. But I was not keen at that for the past few days. So, I had to stop.

I forgot how I gained balance over the water when I stopped for a moment. Oh well, I have 12743530_552344434932736_4272592829614872366_nto go back to zero. But in the end I did not make a turn. None of us made a good turn. Some of our friends, who did not try wakeboarding, wanted to leave. We had to run for the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Besides, we haven’t had a good lunch in the afternoon.

We promised ourselves that we’ll save up for our return at Deca Wake Park. And we’ll make sure that we’ll come on a Thursday. By that time, we’ll make sure to surf a 360-degree turn at the main wakeboarding pool. Trying wakeboarding has been a reawakening of confidence for me, since I realized I could try something impossible at the beginning.

So, did we ride the hot air balloons after? That would have been a feat. But you will know that on my next blog. 🙂

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With friends Rico (far left), Lans (left), the author (behind middle), Ritz (right), Tina (far right). My travels are made memorable because of them 🙂

The Magic Of Dinner Over Movies (Sixth Bite): A Reunion in Pampanga

It’s strange how our relatives could only get together after years. If it were not for a cousin’s special occasion, my mom and I wouldn’t get a chance to visit Pampanga.

Pampanga is a province located in Central Luzon. Should you begin your travel point from Manila, go in a two-hour northward travel to get to Pampanga, or longer depending on the city to visit. Since my province Bulacan is adjacent to Pampanga, travel going there is quicker. From the district of Bocaue, Bulacan to the city of San Fernando, Pampanga, it takes about an hour’s ride. So what’s so special about this place? For foodies like me, of course, it would be food.

I had the privilege to taste of the authenticity of Kapampangan dishes as my cousin invited us for the christening of her first baby. Now, add up the mini-reunion of relatives on my mother’s side, our visit is worth to remember.

Kapampangan dishes are known for their richness. Besides that, their food can range from simply being savory to exotic. I’ll give you a peek to one of the restaurants there.

Bale Capampangan:
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My craving to taste the best of Pampanga has been answered by having the privilege to visit and have lunch in this cozy restaurant, located in Dolores, San Fernando, Pampanga. The buffet it offers has a variety of dishes, igniting the curiosity and the hunger pangs in me.

IMG_20150516_112354There are the classic dishes of bulalo (cow soup), pinakbet (vegetables cooked in sauce made of seafood like shrimp or fish), bistig damulag (the Kapampangan version of beefsteak). I’d take only a little of each, since they are very rich in ingredients. The each sauce of these dishes is filled with much flavour. It embodies the homestyle cooking. Besides, the place is a good place for family reunions as it gives a homey feel.

Adobong Balut

Adobong Balut

There are also exotic food like the pasta aligue (pasta made with crab paste), susong supsop (yes, it’s

made of cooked, small snails) and adobong balut (the matured chicken egg now cooked adobo-style). These are but a few in the whole bunch of buffet offered by this restaurant. I bet you’ll keep on coming back once you take a bite of them.

As most Filipinos, we had the habit of ignoring the people around us while we eat. Perhaps, it’s an inborn ability to take note of the food first before we get to talk much. Or perhaps, we heed what the elders say: “Don’t eat when your mouth is full.”

Susong supsop

Susong supsop

Of course, Filipino meals are not complete without sweets. After a plateful of the main course, we’d line up for halo-halo (or mixed up, literally in English). Just fill your glass with sweet banana, red sago (round starch pearls), mongo, pinipig (uncooked glutunous rice), sugar, crushed ice and milk. A cold treat to chase the summer heat away.

Aside from that, there are also other sweets and rice cakes like the palitaw.

I guess this place gave us much to talk about, like language differences. Yes, that’s right. The signs are mostly in Kapampangan. In the Philippines, each provinces have unique dialects. Pampanga has its own dialect, aside from the Tagalog widely spoken in the whole country. Even my uncle admits that he was still confused with some of the words, being a Bicolano himself.

The calming atmosphere of the restaurant made us stay, relax, dive into nostalgia and crack jokes at one another. Because it shunned us from the terrifying heat of the day, I did not notice that we were staying there for more than five hours! It was past three in the afternoon, and we would have wished to stay longer with our relatives.

After scouting for pasalubong, my cousins invited us to try the popular cheese bread and Spanish bread of a bakery just beside Bale Capampangan.

L.A. Bakeshop:

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When the door was opened, the smell of freshly baked bread gave us the tingling sensation of home in the city. Started in 1985, this bakeshop had its humble beginnings at one of this city’s market. But the populace would flock this store because of its tasty cheese bread, thus it grew into a cafe and resto-bakery.

Some of L.A. Bakery's special breads and cookies lined up at the counter beside the cafe

Some of L.A. Bakery’s special breads and cookies lined up at the counter beside the cafe

L.A. Bakery's tasty cheese bread and Spanish bread. Thirty pieces of these can be sold for P195. Freshly baked, it's inviting scent invigorates nostalgia and the hunger pangs of the other passengers in the van as we went home :)

L.A. Bakery’s cheese bread and Spanish bread. Thirty pieces sold at P195. Freshly baked, its inviting scent ignited nostalgia and the hunger pangs of the other van passengers as we went home 🙂

Unlike some usual cheese bread bought in other bakeries, this one is oozing with much cheese and it’snot airy; even though it looks smaller compared to other breads. The Spanish bread is sweetly superb, as well. A box of it would make a good pasalubong. Aside from being tasty, a box of it is worth its price. Even if you reheat it in the oven, it still smell as if freshly baked, provided that you keep it in a safe place. My mother said that instead of using lard, real butter and egg yolks were used for the dough. If we had much more time, we’d stay with our cousins and have coffee in this homey little bakeshop. Perhaps, I would not stop myself from its offer of unlimited coffee and bread. Yes, coffeeeeee… 🙂

My cousins introduced us other shops just near these places where we’ve been. I promised them and myself that we would return and try them all. But I would enjoy these places and food better with my relatives. That would make every bite and taste more sumptuous and even memorable.

Meet my family. My mom (in red) and I (in the dark green dress) together with my cousins, uncle, and aunt :)

Meet my family. My mom (in red) and I (in the dark green dress) together with my cousins, uncle, and aunt 🙂


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