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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

21st Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2017 - new venue, balloon flights and awesome attractions

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Finally, I got the time to write about my annual visit at the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, this year 2017, they are on its 21st year,  grabe sobra tagal na nila, there were a lot of rumors that this year might be the last event, but I did some research and there's a news write up and said that they will transfer to a new venue, in order to give way to the construction of a new hangar from the old venue, there are also news that the event is causing delays of some flights in Clark airport, but the news report says that according to an interview from the organizers that there are no ongoing flights whenever there are scheduled hot air balloon flights in the morning. So its impossible to say that the event is causing delays of any commercial flights.



Im sure this is not the last event, the organizers will not let go of their 21 years of organizing an event that made us close to anything that flies, appreciate the work of our pilots, and this event also give  influence to younger kids who wants to be a pilot in the future.

We need more events like this to give us awareness about flying, driving a plane and appreciate the hard work of people who make us safe during air travel.

Ok, my intro for this blog post ends here. let me take you know in my photo blog story of our travel adventure coverage of the 21st Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2017.

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I didn't got much photos for my blog post, in my previous years of coverage I can bring home lots of images about the event, there are times that my blog post story reaches up to 5 parts. But this year is different. It was hard for me to pick one coverage format --- blog with photos or cover it with video blog.

But I decided I will do it both -- photos and video, it was a challenge for me, but Im happy that the coverage for day 1 went well.

I manage to take lots of photos for my blog post, although the blog post delayed for a month, but my video blog came out a day after our trip, and Im happy that it went close to viral and it helped lots of old and new visitors to see a POV perspective of the event through my video blogs.


You can watch my vlogs here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpLArjZi6Gs


que ave to omni

Here's the route we used going to Clark airfield in Angeles City, Pampanga, we planned that we meet in McDonalds in Quezon Avenue MRT station and then we pick up Enzo at his home in Meycauayan and then travel together for 2 hours.

We met at around 12AM and then the travel continued at around 1:30am.

My estimate is that the travel time might be around 2-3 hours depends on the traffic along NLEX, but as expected, we encountered a slow moving traffic because of a road accident near Dau exit.

Also, we entered SCTEX and we went inside Clark the long way..something that I need to keep in mind, we should take that Dau exit and instead of that going inside SCTEX. We entered Clark at the far side area and the venue of the hot air balloon fiesta is near Dau which and located at the other side of the Clark complex.

omni

This year the balloon fiesta's venue is at Omni Aviation Center, I heard that the area is a dusty and grassy, because there are no activities for years and the place is just a bare ground. But I heard that the organizers managed to plant more grass just to make the ground more comfy to visitors.

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Me and the #EATgetaway team -- Ted, Enzo and Nicole, riding in Ted's Hyundai car, arrived 1st in the venue at around 4am, then followed by Ian and Karina riding the Mazda BT-50 truck, we all met at a Petron gas station new Omni Aviation Center, and then after some CR breaks and some chit chat, the bus filled with media and bloggers arrived, the bus ride is managed by the PR of PowerMac Center, they will be at the balloon fiesta event to use that new gadget promoted by PowerMac.

We are also part of the media junket, we didn't joined the bus ride but we met them there at the gas station to attend a short briefing about the media activity with their latest product.

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The briefing was delayed and I was on panic already, because we should be at the venue at 4:30am, the briefing ended at around 5am and we zoom right away and proceeded to the long line of cars that will enter the parking lot.

Im on a state of panic, because the long lines and some delays might result that we will miss the flight of the balloons.

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It was a 15 minute walk from the parking lot going to the main entrance of Omni Aviation Center. At the parking area, it was dark and hard to walk through because of the long and thick grass. It was okay but Im  worried for people who were wearing shorts. Im glad that all of us are wearing pants that day.

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The blue hour just came in and I got into another panic again because at this moment the hot air balloon might be bursting flames and I dont want to miss a photo shot of it, so we continued to walk straight to the venue in double time.

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We spotted the sun...OMG!!!!!!!

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We dont have a ticket because we're listed as media,  we don't see any entrance for media, but we took the PWD and Senior gate, I will just inform the people there that we are looking for the media entrance.

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We're glad that the media registration is right after the PWD and Senior's gate, hahaha. sakto lang at dun na kami pumasok.

Then we noticed that the PR people at the registration table are wearing those face mask. I got worried a bit, so it means that the venue will be more dusty when day time arrives, means that it will be windy and the dusty ground will be disturbed by many people and dust clouds are expected all day.  Covering your face with this mask can help you to breathe and avoid the dust enters your mouth and nose. (because the entire day...I ate the dusty lahar for not wearing a face mask)

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We got our ramp pass
Felt relieved for the last minute, but I'm still on a panic because its already the start of day time.


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I didn't got a time to check out the entire visitor's ground. But its great to see that the entire complex is filled with lots of visitors


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I also spotted some performers in costume that greets the incoming visitors

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We got lost inside the event ground and we're not sure where we can enter the ramp area. After walking at the middle of the event ground, I remembered that the entrance going to the ramp is near the stage area, every year we always enter that area, so my big guess is that the media entrance is near the stage, because there's a buffet for VIP located near it and that's the only access going to the ramp.

We proceed to the stage area and we found our media relation contact waiting at the gate and saw her ushering some media people to enter the ramp.

I called her and showed that we have our ramp passes on our body, we entered right away, we ran through inside the ramp because we saw a large media group already on stand by ready to shoot and cover the event. It was funny that I haven't seen yet the balloons and chase team on the ground.

We arrived late that morning and we thought that we might miss the balloon set, but as soon as we arrive, we saw that the balloon teams are not yet on the ramp ground.

Great timing!! we arrived just before they set up their balloon haha.

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We position ourselves away from the hot air balloon set up, our media relation officer informed us that media are prohibited to go near the balloons and this was according to the strict rules of CAAP or the  Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

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So for safety, we are allowed to cover near the barricade of the ramp area. I understand their strict rules, because before the start of the program, I noticed that the ramp ground started to get busy as the chase team arrives carrying the balloon basket, and also there are helicopter fly by and stunts by members of the air force.


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so we started to shoot and cover the event, this is the only photo I have for the fire burst. Mas maganda sana if the fire burst started before sunrise, mas maganda yung effect.

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Sky divers stunt started right before the Philippine national anthem. The sky diving stunts are a regular feat in every start of the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.


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We experienced some delays for the national anthem and the sky diver with the Philippine flag, but the jumper performed so smooth and this is the most photograph scene on every 1st hour of the event.

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I was so excited to go near the balloon, but we are advised to stay where we are, I didn't even hear the announcer what we should do, if ever we will stay away forever or we go near the balloons before they get inflated.

But we saw a crowd of media ran near a balloon and we heard the announcer that the ceremonial fire burst of the balloon conducted by the organizers will be held here. So I ran off from the media area and went directly to the ceremonial ribbon cutting using the fire burst.

That was the only moment we were allowed to go near the balloon haha.
I also left my tripod with my SJCAM M20 camera shooting the entire balloon event in timelapse. I got lucky that nobody planned to steal it and Im glad that all media people inside the ramp are respectful to the camera gears of other media people.

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In taking photos of the event, I have the
1. Olympus EPL-1 with 12-50mm lens
2. Nikon D5300 with kit lens and 55-200mm lens

for back up I have my
1. OPPO F1 smartphone
2. GOPRO Hero 3+

for my timelapse camera
1. SJCAM M20 camera

my tripod
1. Manfrotto Compact MKC3-P02
2. Mefoto smart tripod

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Spotted on the scene, Pro photographer John Chua

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Fire burst.... so hard to shoot in day time.

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Spotted blogger friends - Rey, Cristelle and John


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It was so hard to shoot in the ramp area, because the balloon started to inflate at the same time. I ran around and tried to take photos and shoot a video footage of the activities.

When I saw the Philippines hot air balloon named Flag for Fire, stated to rise in the air. I ran infront of it and took this quick selfie. This is one of my fave hot air balloon ever since I first saw its flight last year.

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Balloons with special shapes started to form at the other side. I didn't got a time to research about the different shapes of this year's hot air balloon fest, but this scene gave us a surprise what will be the shape of these balloons.


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Foreign hot air balloons are ready to fly

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Flag of Fire

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Its a nice view to see all balloons inflated and ready to fly one by one.


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It was like they are waiting for the go signal who will fly first.


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Then we spotted the Flag of Fire started to ascend to the sky.


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then other balloons followed.


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Other balloons flew up so fast, while others hovers around...I think they want more photo exposure haha.

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My first time to see this YODA hot air balloon. I think the design came from Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoons series.

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I will never miss this opportunity to have a selfie.
A Star Wars fans should have get a selfie with Master yoda

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Im trying to catch this Coca Cola hot air balloon.
I got so thirsty when I saw this balloon.


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Pic with fellow PBNET - Edel and Ian

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I didn't pay too much attention at this sad face clown hot air balloon. When I saw the photo from my laptop, I just wished that I took more pic of it. Its one of the most interesting balloon because of the clown sad face.

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ABS CBN Balloon flies into the air


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More colorful balloons started to fly one by one


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Spotted: the event organizer, Capt Joy Roa zooming around the runaway


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Chase team on stand by

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With Sarah Cada, social media team of hot air balloon fiesta


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me and my fellow bloggers got a chance to ride one of the sponsored balloons, but then the wind became so harsh so the ride for us got cancelled. So we took this group selfie na lang.
Others got a chance to ride when

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After all balloons flew into the air. We went out of the ramp and proceeded to the booth of Adam Elements, one of the event exhibitor for this year, they have an exhibit about their latest product -- the iKlips Duo OTG flash drive for Apple devices. I will post a different blog post about that gadget.

We used their Apple devices and the iKlips Duo for their on the spot photography contest.
Stay tuned for my blog post about it too.

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Aftermath of the coverage. hahahah our body and face are covered because of the heat and also dust.


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Every year I always buy this special kite at the event. Its my pasalubong to my son, Ashton.
This time, I saw a kind of kite with spinning tail. The kite fly and hover up in the air because of the spinning tail.


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It was a wow moment when we saw that commercial flights are back to normal schedule, we saw this huge Cathay Pacific on lift off stage.  I learned that this parking lot is a good venue for plane spotting, a kind of hobby about taking photos of plane and identifying them. There's a local FB group about it and I recently joined the group to learn more about the hobby. Our home in Cavite is also a great spot for plane spotting, if ever I got the time to take photos, I can also share my plane spotting pics with the group.

As for next year, I will do the plane spotting here after covering the hot air balloon.


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So that's all folks. That's the end of my blog coverage of the hot air balloon fiesta. On my next blog, I will write down the aftermath and also about the iKlips Duo gadget for Apple devices.

Thanks for reading. And hope to be back here again at the next 22nd Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2018.
Azrael Coladilla is the blogger and founder of Azrael's Merryland Blog. This blog started as a personal blog in 2003, and then converted the blog into a lifeblog about his interest and reporting about pop culture, lifestyle, entertainment, technology, food, travel, toys, outdoor adventure, internet and social media. Awarded as the 2009 Most Influential Blogger for Luzon, Philippines, awarded by the Philippine Blog Awards. He is the founder of several online communities - Manila Bloggers Network, PBNetwork PH, Oh My Food! community, Cavite Bloggers, Travel and Blog Community, and Philippine ToyCon. He loves to travel, explore, discover, eat new food, document and record his life, meet new people, do photography and collects Transformers toys.
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