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Things you missed in the last 20th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Philippine Hot Air Fiesta

This year marked the 20th Philippine International Annual Balloon Fiesta; a weekend of celebrating everything that flies. This festival is held annually in Pampanga, just 3 hours away from Manila, but I never had a chance to attend it until now.

 

The event, which started as a passion project evolved into the longest-running sports aviation in Asia, with some of the best aviators from the world for participants. Its goal is to instill discipline in participating young pilots so they can develop into safe aviators, as well as to impart the spirit volunteerism and cooperation to the whole community.

20th Hot air balloon Fiesta

I read from some blogs that it’s always a jampack event as it is attended by thousands of people, so I expected to meet some heavy traffic on my way there. Likewise, I knew then I’d have to wait in the long queue to the ticketing booth. Despite knowing this, I didn’t prepare anything because I’m unsure about attending the balloon fiesta in the first place.

 

Until the day before the event, I told my friends in Pampanga, Ivy and Anna that I’d go there alone. I initially planned to leave Manila (Cubao) at 3:00 a. m., but it didn’t happen because of work. I only had a few hours of sleep so I was feeling lethargic. Anyway, I still went ahead and arrived in Cubao before 5:00 a. m., immediately I went to Victory Liner. I was shocked to discover that there were so many people waiting in line. So I walked away and thankfully, I found a bus from Dominion Line that is bound to Vigan. It stops over at Dau Bus terminal, which is the gateway to this event. Travel time from Cubao to Dau Bus terminal was just 2 hours; the fare was 116php.

clark free port zone

 

How to get to Hot Air Balloon Fiesta venue?

From Dau Bus Terminal, I walked my way to McArthur Highway and looked for a jeep bound to Clark Main Gate. Travel time was less than 15 minutes and the fare was 7php. From Clark Main gate, I took a jeep/shuttle route 2 and took off at The North Walk Mall. I walked hurriedly, hoping to catch those hot air balloons. Because I was in a hurry I willingly paid 50php for a tricycle. Unfortunately, the traffic was so bad, riding the trike didn’t really help. Eventually,  I decided to just take off at Jollibee along friendship highway and from there, walked all the way to the main gate.

 

I had a glimpse of the venue at 7:15 a.m. and hoped that I could still witness the flying hot air balloons. Regrettably, they are were all gone by the time I got there. I felt so devastated because I honestly thought they’d be up in the sky for at least an hour.  I learned however that they don’t stay up in the sky that long, that once they go up they just go over to Porac.

Hot air balloon fiestsa

I decided not to buy a ticket because most of the people were already leaving the venue and when I saw the queue at the ticket booth and entrance, I wanted to vanish and be transported in an air-conditioned place. It was really hot and dusty in the venue so I recommend wearing a breathable shirt.

 

North Walk Clark is the only mall I saw outside the Airforce City complex and this is where most of the people eat after the show. I stayed for a few minutes in a coffee shop while waiting for my friends’ advice on where we would be meeting. I had a chance to talk to someone about the event and she told me that instead of buying a ticket, which costs 350php, why not go on the roof deck of North Walk Building and just pay 30php. She said it would save me a lot of money but I’d still be able to see the balloons. I looked at her photos and thought that maybe she was onto something; I could say she got awesome shots from just staying on the viewing deck.

 

Where to Eat in Angeles?

 

Robertos coffee and tea

While waiting for the next Hot Air Balloon Show, my friends invited me to have lunch at Robertos Coffee and Tea located inside SM City Clark. From the name itself, I thought that it was just a typical coffee and tea house; I was wrong. Robertos is, in fact, a sophisticated restaurant, offering not just coffee and tea but also meals for lunch and dinner.  I was impressed upon learning that the meat that they use for their food were from the animals that they grow from their own farm.

 

As I entered the resto, I immediately noticed the impressive chairs near the door. Upon closer look, I was surprised to see that those were made by none other than Kenneth Cobonpue, a multi-awarded and globally recognized Filipino industrial designer. Now, it’s clear to me that this is not just your normal coffee and tea shop.

from strangers to friends

I had the chance to meet Mr. Roberto and I was amazed that like most of us, he is also a traveler. He has been to many local and international destinations, as a matter of fact, some items that he bought during his travel are displayed at his restaurant. Even the backpacker logo of Roberto’s somehow looks like my logo. I felt like entering inside my dream restaurant. I actually have a dream of someday, after traveling and collecting memories around the world, I would also establish my own coffee and tea shop business. It is designed in such a way that it will showcase my love for traveling.

kenneth cobonpue

 

Anyway, some of you might think that this place is expensive, but with the quality of the taste, service, and the interiors, I could say that the price is reasonable. I ordered a Baby back ribs for 380php.  I  can’t remember the last time I had a good steak and I can attest that Roberto’s champion this one. The meat is tender and juicy and I didn’t have a hard time cutting and chewing the meat. The flavor wasn’t too strong or blunt; cooked exactly as I want it. And I loved the idea of eating on a chopping board, that’s something unusual and cool. If you love green tea frappe, then you should try theirs for only 180php. Its taste is at par with those that you can buy from some of the leading cafes in the country but for the same price.

Robertos drinks

 

baby back ribs

 

green tea frappe

The next day, I was fortunate to have a free ticket inside the event courtesy of my friends so I was able to witness closely the flying of Balloons and planes. At first, I was skeptical if the event would be worth it. Imagine, we woke up as early as 2:00 a.m. to fall in line and to ensure a good spot close to the balloons. The queue was unbelievably long, I mean seriously, there were thousands of people lining up at the entrance gate waiting for the gate to open before 6:00 a.m. It could have been better if the organizer let the people get in and camp inside the venue since it was so huge and can accommodate everyone instead of letting us stand in line for hours outside, which was quite uncomfortable.

I

t didn’t help that there were some people arguing because the lines were so disorganized. I didn’t see any event’s staff who tried to fix the line, I just think it was truly unfair to the people who waited there for hours just to get in first. I hope that the event organizer would read this and do something to make it more organized for the next year’s festival.

 

Below are some photos from the last 20th Hot air Balloon Fiesta and I hope you wouldn’t regret that you were not there.

 

  • The first orange-hued rays of sunrise kissed the grayish sky with the breathtaking view of skydivers playing on air. Photo Credited to @mhelowsssss on Instagram.

sunrise skydiving

 

  • The event started with the singing of our National Anthem while our Philippine Flag was dramatically flying from the sky. I wish I could watch it for longer, happily lost in a trance of patriotism. Photo Credited to Mark Evans on Facebook.

 

philippine flag

 

  • The most awaited part, the flying of Hot Air Balloons. The feeling was magical. I feel like the pixies threw a dust into the morning cold air.  Photo Credited to Jenny Gutierrez on Facebook

 

Hot air balloons 1

 

  • This brings back the child in me. 

 

Hot air balloons

 

  • There was a sound from above whispering from my ear. FREEDOM! I am proud to stand behind watching it move, almost in slow motion. Photo credit to Allan Paul on Facebook.

 

Hot air balloon philippine flag

 

  • Riding inside this plane is Five-star experience. No seats cramped together and no economy class. Photo Credit to Roman Angelo and Mark Evans on Facebook

 

Philippine airforce airplane

 

  • I can’t remember the last time I fly a kite. But I’m sure that flying it requires control. The way it moves to the sky will depend on your hands. Photo Credit to @twinkie4lyf on Instagram

 

kite

 

  • The view was so serene, kites are the reflection of our way of thinking. If we are successful in flying, it means our mind have graceful thought. Photo Credit to @blu3inblu3 on Instagram

 

kites sunset

 

  • The glowing fires leaped in a fiery dance, twinkling like stars bringing the whole place alive – Photo Credit to Roman Angelo on Facebook.

 

Hot air balloon fiestsa at night

 

I hope these photos inspire and excite you to attend the next Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. See you next year!


75 comments

  • […] for the queue. I went with fellow bloggers, Potpot of Travel Trilogy, Marge of Coffeehan and Cai of Travelosyo. It was Valentine’s Day and a weekend, so for sure it will be a hit among couples, families and […]

  • There are more “characters” now! I would love to experience this again.

  • Its crowded as expected but a super fun experience. I love reading your blog and your experience- love the food and all hot air balloon up in the air. So festive and creative. 🙂
    Great photos!:)
    http://www.sweetcuisinera.com

  • The sacrifice of waking up early is paid off by this great experienced. Nice shots by the way.

  • Thank you so much for having a Where To Eat part in your entry. We were here a year ago and we were looking for places to eat or chill out but we couldn’t find any relevant entries in search engines. We’ll try Roberto’s the next time we’re around. 🙂

    • Welcome Kim.. I appreciate that. You will enjoy the food and ambiance there 🙂

  • While reading it, I though you missed it! Good tips on the transportation. Taking the Vigan bus was a smart move.

    • thanks Katrina, you can print this and can your guide in HK 🙂

  • the last shot is so beautiful. the people behind this event bet had celebrated as it looks like very successful. you are lucky to be part of it. i wishi could witness hot air balloon fiesta next year!

  • I always wanted to go to this event but the schedule is always alanganin. But I am still hopeful that I’ll gonna be there in the future.

  • This is a great event, too bad you missed it. At least, you still got a chance to meet and eat out with your friends. I hope I’ll be able to witness the event too in the near future.

  • Hot air balloon fests are really great! I’ve never been to one but I’d love to witness at least one in the future, I hope when my husband comes home & when our son is older.

  • Too bad we missed this. We’ll make sure we go next year! The balloons are too cute! my kids would enjoy.

  • The balloon event reminds me of Luxor in Upper Egypt, and Cappadoccia in Turkey. It looks like you had an amazing experience.

  • I didn’t know Philippines has a hot air balloon festival. That’s really awesome! I’m hoping to go to one this year in New Mexico. I cant wait to experience this for myself.

    • Yup. We’ve been celebrating it for 20 years now 🙂 Wow that’s awesome.

  • I think I only like going to festivals and fiestas in theory. But I really can’t stand having being around a crowd. 🙂

    • Honestly, I rarely go to big events coz of the same reason like yours. But it was fun 🙂

  • This thing gets bigger and bigger every year! I grew up near Clark (in Subic), I’ve always heard about the festival but unfortunately, I’ve never been! Maybe I’ll try it out next year! Clark and Angeles has a special place in my heart though cause I love the way Kapampangans cook their food. Do they offer hot air balloon rides during the festival? If yes, do you have any idea about the costing? I enjoy reading your posts! Thanks, Cai!

    • Me too I super love their food. Yummy! Yup you can ride inside the balloon. Ahmm Don’t know exactly the cost but I believe it ranges from 3k-5k as per my friend.

  • Yay! finally got to see the hot air balloon festival too this year. would have loved to try Roberto’s. Sayang. But next time i’m in the area, i’ll go try them. i’m a fan of Kenneth Cobonpue’s work kasi. 😉

    • Bongga ang gawa nya.. Bongga din ang presyo hahaha 🙂

  • So nice! I love it ! Ang awkward nga lang ng isa mong pic parang kuha ng mga refugees! hahahaa labyooo! XD

    • Thanks Cathy huh! HAHAHAHHA! Kulong kita dyan e! hahaha

  • Hot Air Balloon festivals make for such great photos! I love that you found this great little cafe as well. It does look very nicely decorated!

  • Wow! How spectacular! My kids would really enjoy this event.

  • The food in Roberto’s look delish! I love that they used Kenneth Cobonpue’s furnitures. Truly proudly Pinoy! 🙂 Nice photos of the Hot Air Balloon Festival. Went there once and wanted to go there again but maybe with my baby next year! 🙂

  • I attended the last day and I really had a blast (it was my first time). I enjoyed almost everything and too bad I was so tired that day that we decided to go home after explorin the event and witnessing the hare and hound balloon flight .. I missed the Night show but hopefully next year ulit… next time I’ll get enough rest na haha
    the crowd is really overwhelming too at sobrang inet haha
    thanks for sharing..

    • agree super daming tao plus ang inet.. but indeed it was an awesome event.

  • What a fun weekend that must have been! It’s always nice to go to events like this! I hope to attend one in the near future!

  • Wow!! I love all yout photos. I have a friend who attended this festival and she enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing.

  • hot air balloons here are so cute and creative! especially love the green dragon one. I am sure it was fun time!

  • We have the same dream, coffee shop! Hehe!

    It looks so exciting for a photographer like me but tiring. I also hate lining up and I dont have patience. But with all the adventure I think it’s really all worth it. Nice post!

  • Wow! The Hot Air Balloon fiesta is and always has been a big thing in my bucketlist. Sadly, it had become almost impossible to attend now, since I moved to Europe. That and the Pyromusical competition. I’m sure I’d be wide-eyed amazed by the giant balloons floating in the air, as you did on the photos. You really capture the whole event by this article.

  • Sad to say, I wasn’t able to come to the HotAir Balloon Fiesta this year because of shool works. 🙁

  • I didn’t sleep the night before so I was really bangag during this festival hahaha.. Nonetheless, it was really fun. Looking at the hot air balloon gave me the same feeling as watching the fireworks. They were really beautiful.

  • Nooooo! Huhu. Medyo masakit yung title ng blog post na to ha. :)) But I still read it. Haha! I was supposed to go to the Hot Air Balloon festival too. We had makeup class at school so we weren’t able to go anymore. Really looks like you enjoyed. Hopefully I can go next year. Thanks for at least sharing what I missed out on 🙂

    • Sorry naman Melissa. heheheh 🙂 There’s always next time! see you next year!

  • I think you would love an actual ride in a hot air balloon!

    It is a magical experience 🙂

    • I really believe I would love it, but its expensive hehehe

  • I always wanted to get inside a balloon and fly. Maybe I will be able to attend this event next year. It was brave enough of you to take the risk of going despite the uncertainty. Thanks for sharing!

    • I’m used to traveling solo and I’m loving it 😉

  • This looks like an amazing experience. I did not know this existed and I am so happy I learned about this today! thanks for sharing

  • I agree that these baloons bring out the child in us!!! … And evening shots are so dramatic!!!

  • My friend went to this festival and she said the views were really surreal. I would like to see this next year!! Those are really beautiful photos.

  • It must be a sight to behold seeing all those balloons up in the air. How was the atmosphere there and the feel of the crowd?

    • I believe everyone are so excited seeing lots of big balloons flying in the sky. But to be honest, there’s something wrong in the event. I don’t know the term but once all the balloons fly most of the people are leaving. I believe the organizer should do more things/activities to make the people stay in the event or maybe its sooo hot in the area that’s why people just go out and leave after.

  • I dream of this festival… In fact, I dream to have a giant B.R.A. (Bra to Raise Awareness) hot air baloon, but I know that would be too costly!!! I am sure the whole activity was spectacular (and evidenced by your photos!) and a photographer’s dream, too!

    • Just keep dreaming and make it come true, slowly you will get there 🙂

  • I had no idea Philippines held a hot air balloon festival, and that there will balloons of different shapes! It looks spectacular. The tips were great too, will definitely take note when I finally get to go, thank you! 🙂

    • I was also amazed to see Hot air balloons in different forms 🙂 Thanks!

  • Wow! I didn’t know this about the Philippines. Another item to add to the never-ending list of things to do when I go back to my homeland. Love the picture of the balloon with the flag of the Philippines.

  • We went here several years ago and it was a nice experience but my husband doesn’t want to go back anymore kasi ang init at alikabok. hehehe!

  • Great article!

  • I didn’t even know that the Philippines has a Hot Air Balloon Fiesta! Thx for sharing your great photos and travel tips. I hope I will get there in the future.

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