It’s that time of the year again… the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF) is now on its 17th year. It was an easy decision to go. It isn’t a big deal to get to. Despite the distance, the NLEX makes the trip a non-issue. This year I made the trip with Winston (aka “Batang Yagit”). I attended the fiesta last year, 2011, and in 2010.
View Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in a larger map
We left Metro Manila at around 3:45am and comfortably got to the Fiesta grounds by 5:00am. Driving along NLEX at night is very disconcerting because I don’t see all of the usual landmarks… I actually almost missed the turn off for the SCTEX.
Getting their early guarantees you two things. 1) Nice close parking and 2) Prime real estate by the “fence” so nothing and no one obstructs your view of the balloons.
They changed some of layout for lining up for folks with and without tickets. There is no more ticket booth. Just a line for those without tickets. So we paid our P200/person and went in to stake claim to a prime spot. I was planning to bring folding stools, but I decided to just bring plastic garbage bags to lay out on the ground to sit on. So we leisurely just waited the 45 min sitting and watching the people become denser and denser.
Despite the schedules saying that the balloons take off at 5:30, never believe it. By around 5:45, the pickups with balloons and gondolas just start making their way out to the field for them to start setting up. The rule is actually common sense, they come out at around sunrise… so they can see what they are doing. And for today, sunrise was scheduled for around 6:15am.
Remember what I said about getting there early to get prime real estate for an unobstructed view? For some reason, this security guard stood for 30 min right in front of me…
Anyway, he eventually decided to situate himself elsewhere. As you can see, by the time sunrise came about, the fence area was full.
With the sun coming up behind Mt. Arayat, the balloons start to take form.
The big birthday cake is the first to fully form.
At roughly 6:10, the event formally begins with the Philippine National Anthem and the flag unfurled from a skydiver from the Philippine Army.
There were around 20 balloons from all over the world. But only a few customized shapes. There was the cake. That big daisy you see in the back. A cartoon yellow car. The rest were your standard balloons.
A big Kiwi (from New Zealand)… yes, it’s a a Kiwi bird… the back is just facing us the whole time.
A Sunkist Orange (left) and a big ice cream cone with a cherry on top (center)
Watching the balloons take off is always a sight! Take note… even SM has a Balloon!
That panda is a remote controlled mini balloon.
Anyway… by 6:45, all the balloons had taken off. Soon after, Winston and I decided to head back to Metro Manila. It was Friday… so we both went straight to our respective offices.
By the way… its not just about balloons… it is about “everything that flies” so there were non balloon stars as well.
If you guys are planning to go over the weekend… here is a picture of the roughly 2000 people there on a weekday morning. You have been warned.
For more information:
Website : http://www.philballoonfest.net/ (there is not a lot of stuff in this website as of today which is empty and not complete, but is still a good source for information)