This is my second year to go and watch the hot air balloons fly over the Pampanga plains at Clark Fiend. I first went last year, and it was an awesome experience! As this year’s Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF) came around, I made a quick decision that I would go back.


With me on this trip are Erwin Magno and Eufer Pasion.

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 003

Because of my experience last year, I wanted to make sure that I get to Clark before the hoards arrived. Last year, we went on a Saturday and while planning to arrive by 5am, we were a little late.

This year I insisted that we leave Quezon City by 3am. Even with a short stop over at Burger King along NLEX, we still got to Clark before 5am. Deciding to go on a Friday morning instead of the weekend was another strategy to avoid crowds.

Luckily both strategies worked. Unlike last year, we arrive to almost-empty parking lots and practically empty field. Of course, this would last only a while as the area filled up real quick.

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 006

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 042

Before long, They started to inflate the balloons while a squadron of Para gliders filled the air.

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 011

As the balloons are nearing full inflation, the programme begins, and we start with the National Anthem. Last year, the flag hung from a skydiver. The promlem was, even by the time the skydiver lands, the National Anthem was still playing. This year, they attach the flag to one of the Para gliders who just flew around during the course of the song. My only concern were the obvious tears on the flag.

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 116

It was at this time that one of the last balloons was taking form. From the photos on Twitter yesterday, the first day of the festival, I was aware of the Darth Vader balloon. When the inflation started, we noticed only one balloon on the ground that was black. And yes it was the SIth Lord himself.

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 129

And moments later, there he is in all his glory!

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 137


Hehe… Darth Vader…. that was so AWESOME!!!

And soon the balloons take flight!

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 027

One of my favorites from last year, the flying barn…

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 193

And beside it, one of the funniest balloons I have ever seen. An upside down balloon.

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 203

A flying mushroom?

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 225

And a Pirate…

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 205

A little while later, the sky was full of balloons….

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 234

Of course… it seemed funny when the balloons were being chased by… LORD VADER! Wouldn’t it have been cool if there was a Death Star balloon? Hehe.


It was time to go now… we left our nice spot and realized there was around a thousand or so people who showed up.


HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 029

It was a great day. We left the festival area — after chucking down a few hotdogs on the way out — at around 7:30am.

Remember it was a Friday, a work day. And with a very productive morning, I still made it back from Clark and at the office before 9am. A quick change of clothes… and off to work.

HotAirBalloonFestival20110211 031


Maybe next year again?


For more information and programme schedules: