21st Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta: A Weekend Of Everything That Flies

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Last year’s hot air balloon festival in Pampanga was a blast! I heard that it was magical and fun. Well, thinking about it, relaxing under big colorful balloons is really a one-of-a-kind experience, especially here in the Philippines where hot air balloons are so rare. In fact, it only happens during Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta every February.
The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is an annual event that occurs between January and February at the Omni Aviation Complex in Clark Freeport Zone, Angeles City, Pampanga. It features multicolored hot air balloons with more than a hundred balloon pilots from around the world. The festival also features a number of events in skydiving, flag jumps, remote-control airplane and helicopter flying exhibitions, freestyle aerobatics, light airplane balloon bursting, choreographed kite-flying, hi-start launch gliding, pylon racing, banner towing and a lot more.
What an action-packed event! But, apparently, what supposed to be fun and exciting became a failure. My friends and I decided to attend on Sunday because we thought that the last day will be the grandest. We arrived on the scene at around five in the morning. In such an early time, I can’t believe how big the audience was. There are no available parking lots near the area so we parked our car a kilometer away from it. We didn’t know where to enter. There are only four long lines that, we thought, is for the visitors who will buy tickets on the spot. We’re looking for the entrance of the people who already had the ticket. That’s when we found out that the entrance for both kinds of buyers was the same. What’s the advantage of us, early buyers? And how can you accommodate this huge number of people in just four lines? I just rolled my eyes as an answer.
It was crowded when we came in. The public spectator area allocated for the audience was just a small portion of the spacious compound. I know that they should give more space for the hot air balloons but that doesn’t mean they’ll limit the space for the audience. Omni Aviation Complex is such a big complex. They can have a proper division of the place. It’s obvious that the organizers lacked preparation on these matters. They didn’t even cleaned the place or just solved the dust issues. It was indeed a weekend for everything that flies, because aside from the flying balloons, you will see flying dust. Therefore, we ended up having a flu.
The fiesta was an epitome of a expectation-versus-reality scenario. We expected that the hot air balloons will scatter colors in the sky as they will fly simultaneously. We expected relaxation as we lay on our picnic mats. But the reality showed us that it was impossible to happen at that moment. The hot air balloons appeared in the sky one by one while the rest, especially the stunningly-designed ones, just stayed on the ground due to certain reasons. We left the place for a while, toured Pampanga and came back in the afternoon, hoping for a better performance. But then again, we just witnessed another failure. The hot air balloons were unable to fly because of the wind conditions. It’s a good thing that they have night glow, wherein tethered hot air balloons were burned together at night. 
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It was still dim when we arrived at the venue yet the crowd was already overflowing.
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The event also showcased the beauty of nature as the sun rose up.
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Like what normal events do, the hot air balloon festival opened with the national anthem but in an extraordinary way.
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The pilots started to inflate the balloons letting us see its beautiful forms and colors from afar.
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As I said,  the balloons flew one by one. I’m glad that I captured four in one photo though.
And another four at a clearer view plus a skydiver! We had a typical hot air balloon, Garant Mobel’s hot air balloon, a clown and an elephant which has a funny form.
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This fiesta is not just about hot air balloons. As I said, it also includes skydiving and paragliding activities. These two had fun gliding in the sky as they fly from the time we came to the time we depart.
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Here’s a closer shot of how a paragliding looks like.
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I won’t forgive myself if I didn’t captured this. These riders are amazing!
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Some people chose to fly kites. They say that when the weather allows us to fly a kite, it won’t allow us to fly a hot air balloon. So there they go.
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These three are the balloons that stayed on the ground. My three favorite balloons, the dog, the cathedral and the coke, also failed to reach the sky during that day. I wasn’t able to get a photo of my favorites so I snatched posts from Instagram.

You know how I love dogs so this one is my first favorite balloon.

A Cathedral is so complicated to build and yet they were able to create a balloon of it. This is my second favorite.

My third favorite is also my favorite when it comes to sodas. Great job, Coke!

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Yes! This is a great time for picnic. I just feel annoyed when someone steps on our mat.

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My friend answered my question. The advantage of getting your ticket early is the fact that we could take photo of it before the event.

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These souvenirs are so adorbs!

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The 350-peso ticket is still worth it when you are with the happiest persons you know.

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And it’s much more memorable if you spent your Valentine’s date here.

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At around nine o’clock, we, and almost everybody, left the fiesta.

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I’m planning to have a photo with the flags behind but my boyfriend slash photographer slash ticket buyer gave me this. I’ll share it anyway.

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Despite of my haggard-look, crowded place and inability of the balloons to fly, I’m still fortunate to have this kind of experience.

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