It was the opening day of the 11th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta at Air Force City, Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga. Despite the fact that it had been held in Pampanga ten times before, I had not had a chance to check it out until today. According to the program, the hot air balloons begin take off at 5:30 a.m. Which is why we had to wake up really early to catch them.
I passed by for Ching at 4:30 a.m. and we were on our way. We stopped at a gas station along the NLEX for a quick snack since we were so hungry, as well as coffee for me to keep me awake. By the time we arrived, several hot air balloons were already being prepared for take off. The actual flights begin at about 6:30 a.m. but it's best that you come early since parking and vantage points will be a problem when you arrive much later.
My brod Ryan joined us at the festival venue. It was fun watching them inflate the hot air balloons of various colors and shapes with the sunrise and Mount Arayat as a backdrop. And indeed, it was an international event since the participants had come with their balloons from all over the planet! How I wish I could ride one. I regret not taking the opportunity to do it when I was in Angkor Wat but time and budget were not on my side then.
One by one, the balloons took off from the grassy field beside the PAF base. Indeed, watching them fly away was a sight to behold. The event for the day was a "Hare and Hound" race.
Since the hosts of GMA7's Unang Hirit were also there to cover the event, we didn't miss the opportunity to take photos with Regine Tolentino and Drew Arellano. Although the day was packed with events and activities, we had to leave since we all had work to do.
But before we separated, we stopped over at AC Rumpa Restaurant for breakfast. Rumpa stands for Retired U.S. Military Philippines (others say Personnel) Association. The food there is nothing but value for money. For just PHP90, I had a generous serving of creamed sausage on toast with a choice of french fries, hash browns or potato patties on the side, and either iced tea, orange juice or coffee. Beat that McDonald's! There was so much more on the menu.
Watch out for my feature on Fields Avenue/Balibago restaurants coming up soon since this restaurant strip is definitely worth visiting for the diversity of its selections. I'll be back again in Clark for Day 3 of the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta on Saturday, this time with my family. The sad part is I won't be able to watch the night flight event. You can watch the balloons take off at 5:30 a.m. daily until Sunday.
More photos in Multiply.