Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta: Event of everything that flies - Isla Story

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta: Event of everything that flies

The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is perhaps the most awaited event of the season, especially this time that we are hearing 'this is their last'... Yearly hosted by the country and now on its 21st year.

A para-glider carrying the Philippine flag as the show started

With its tagline "a weekend of everything that flies" denotes that the playground is not limited to an enclosed dome with a standard stage and with a different category of seats for spectators, rather, an open field vamped with grass and refined cream sand close to dust and the horizon colored with white and sky blue are the true exhibition hall. The star players here are the aviators, pilots, para-gliders, skydivers and so on. Though, you can also see sports car racers and drifters. These people do the easiest way to play with the air, to us ordinary people it's really impossible and unfathomable. 

Waiting for the balloon inflating activity at early dawn
Inflating of hot air balloon

Trivia: Did you know that the 2nd lightest element is helium? This element is what makes the balloon flies.

Inflated hot air balloons ready to take off

Inflated hot air balloons ready to take off

The activities are enjoyable and everything that goes in the air is at sight. Of course, the highlight of the entire event is the gigantic hot air balloons. In the early dawn, the area barricaded with fence which separates the players and the onlookers is little by little populated with the gigantic colorful like cloth laid on the ground and the pilots with their assistants starting to inflate the colossal rubber sheets, until such time you'll see a giant balloon and one by one flying in the sky until it disappears.

Floating hot air balloons

Floating hot air balloon

Floating hot air balloons

You'll need to be at the venue as early as 4 am so you'll witness the start of the grand exposition and gradual floating of the rubber sac filled with gas. If you miss this glamorous show, you have another round at the evening for the finale. The balloons are arranged and filled again with air. This time, the inflated rubbers need not fly, but to stay still and light the dark night. Together with the moon and the stars, they are like the glimmering Christmas lights of December. After the balloon evening show, you'll have a choice to stay and enjoy the live concert.  

The glimmering balloons, a the night show during the lighting activity

The author and her best friend Rio during the lighting of the balloons

The event also features many activities which you'll enjoy like aerobatic exhibitions, formation flying, car drifting, paragliding, I just don't know if there was a car racing but believe it or not there was a race of a sports car and a chopper! Unbelievable! Of course, don't forget about the fun eating from the huge selection of foods and refreshments and souvenir and local goods shopping activities in the stalls around the area. And If you are lucky enough, your eyes may catch a live marriage proposal, to romantic Filipinos, this kind of occasion is a perfect venue for such. 

Live marriage proposal

The planning team

The para-gliders with their magnificent exhibition

The para-gliders with their magnificent exhibition

You'll experience a true nature. Starting a cool breeze of air in the early dawn to hot and humid during noon time and the drop-in temperature at from dusk to night. You'll hear as well from the audience/s exclaiming 'libre pulbo' (free face powder), due to the dust which was blown by the wind every time a vehicle passes the ground next to the railings where the spectators are standing. The gesture of the people (including me) is to cover their face with handkerchief or jacket while waiting for the wind to pass across them, then afterward take off once gone. Some of the spectators already have their own face mask, maybe because they already experienced it from the previous fiesta. 

The para-gliders with their thrilling performance 

One more thing that an observer may notice is though there was a lounge with special services intended to those political dignitaries and those who can pay the VIP pass but apart from that what your eyes can witness were the same. 

Aircraft exposition

One of the airplane in the exhibit

Watch colorful kites flying during day time

Souvenir Shop

A hearsay is that perhaps this is the last... due to the expansion of the Clark International Airport. If this is for real or some sort of marketing strategy, well, definitely the organizing committee will not allow it to an end. Possibly, they will just relocate the venue which was the stage for 21 years and look for an area where they can relocate the entire activity arena. In the first place, they've been doing this remarkable and a true Filipino pride event for so long, would they want to end it like that? 

The author and her best friend Rio

A side trip in Sandbox Porac while killing the time for the grand hot air balloon finale

The fiesta was held on Feb 9 - 12, 2017 at the Omni Aviation Center, Freeport Clark, Pampanga with 31 hot air balloons from 14 countries participated and an approximately over 100,000 attended both local and foreign visitors the 4 days event (source). 


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