The 1st Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival 2014 in Lubao, Pampanga

Watching those hot air balloons of different colors and sizes slowly going up the sky through my own eyes is a childhood dream.  It was finally granted when I checked out the 1st Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival 2014 a few days ago. In December of 2013, the group that has been organizing this same event for the past years announced that they won't have one this year. This made me sad. 


And because I am not the only one who is really looking forward to see this, in fact a lot of people really made efforts to express their deissapointment via social media, the Pilipinas International Balloon Festival in cooperation with the Arts, Culture and Tourism Office of Pampanga and the Department of Tourism made everything possible in such a short time. FYI, our very own hot air balloon festival is said to be the biggest of its kind in SE asia, so the reason given by its former organizing committee as "too soon" I think is not fair enough.



I and my sister Issa woke up as early as we can to catch the departure of our van from Manila which is 2am. We actually never felt the 2-3 hour ride to reach Pampanga because we fell asleep inside. It was shortly before 5am when we arrived which is just in time to have our breakfast and take some rest. The surrounding still dark and cold but the influx of people coming is unstoppable. The booth where the entrance ticket fee of P200 can be bought is already long at this early hour. I wonder how much longer the line would be when the daylight approaches and the peak hour starts.



At 6am, a lot more people gathered to watch one of the highlights of the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival, the balloon flight of 36 gorgeous and very colorful balloons coming from different countries. Three of my favorite balloons are the ice cream shape, the train and the Angry Bird character. A very thick crowd gathered in front of the long fence that separates the balloons from the viewing public. This poses a challenge to everyone who wanted to take a great photo of themselves with the balloons. It is either you squeeze in between to get closer to the fence or you keep on moving to different directions and take countless shots until you have your perfect Facebook profile photo or Instagram perfect shot.




There was also a very cheesy moment when one of the hot air balloons went up carrying a banner that says "Will You Marry Me, Maria Ira". I am sure there is going to be two people who will remember this event for life as their marriage proposal place. The crowd continued to cheer and clap their hands even more when a bunch of confetti was thrown to the couple below from the balloon.




To those who really wanted to get closer to the balloons there is an additional fee of P100 to go inside the ground where the balloons prepare to take off. For another P500,  one can ride a balloon for a certain distance. Now for those who really want to experience a 30-45 minute balloon flight, it costs P6, 000. It took 3-4 hours for the 36 balloons coming from the US, Europe and Asia to fly one by one.




The theme for this year is "It's More Fun Than Just Hot Air". I would say it was indeed. There are a lot more that this event offered to the thousands of visitors that came for this  4 - day event from Apr 10th to 13th. They had kite flying, street dancing, car show, cultural presentation, bazaar, wakeboarding demonstration, live band performances, balloon night glows, firework displays cooking competition and a lot more. I wish to stay until the night but by 12 noon, we have to leave for another adventure in Subic. That's going to be the next topic of my next blog post.  



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