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Friday, February 09, 2018

22nd Philippine-International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2018 - day 1 coverage


Every month of February is known as the month for the weekend of everything that flies, also means that its the month for the flight of the hot air balloons and appreciation of our local aviation industry. The 22nd Philippine-International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is scheduled this week -- Feb 8-11, 2017 at the Omni Aviation Complex in Clark Freeport, Angeles City, Pampanga. Its a much more near venue from the Clark jeep terminal and SM City Clark, going there is now easy and less travel time from the Clark entrance.

In every hot air balloon fiesta event, everyone are gearing up with their cameras and have the courage to wake up early in the morning just to see the colorful giant balloons.

Yes, waking up sooo early in the morning is a challenge and it requires a lot of discipline. Wanna see the balloons? then you need to wake up at around 12am if you plan to travel to Angeles City and arrive at the venue before the flight of the balloons, then you need to do some calculation and have to be there before 5am -- just to let you get a nice spot and view to watch the flight of the hot air balloons.

We always do that every year and for my 7th year in covering the event, Im happy that Im still part of the media to cover it and here I am taking home a story that I can share here in my blog

so scroll down below and read, you might learn something if you plan to attend the hot air balloon fiesta this weekend.

hot air
Tickets to the event are available at the gate, ticket is priced at PHP500 each, that's good for the entire day of the hot air balloon fiesta.

you may read my full feature and highlights of the event ( here )

PIHABF Instagram
PIHABF Official website
Schedules Day 1-4
Hot air balloon ride rates
VIP Pass
Tandem paragliding rates
Tandem sky diving rates
Airplane ride rates
Visitors guide
Direction to venue


We stayed overnight in Quest Hotel Clark so that we can come early at 5am for the 1st day of the event. Its advisable if you can stay overnight in a hotel or hostel so that you can have more energy and wide awake til the afternoon -- if you plan to go back home right after the show.

If you are commuting, its okay to come here via day tour, but if you are driving, make sure you book an overnight stay -- before or after the event.


The Omni Aviation Complex is better compare to last year. Last 2017, this venue was used for the 1st time as the new venue of the Philippine-International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, but it was so dusty and the lahar dust are everywhere, we wear mask that day just to protect us from inhaling the lahar dust.

But for this year 2018, the entire ground are filled with dried grass, it means that the lahar dust are being taken over by the grass, but its not 100% filled with grass, but its better now compare to last year. Just avoid walking on desert field and just walk on the grassy part of the venue.


After we entered the gate, we get a short briefing from Ms Millet about the balloon and heli ride. We are offered to try sky dive and other sky activities, but none of us got the guts to try it. All of us will try to ride the balloons and me and the EATgetaway team will ride a helicopter tour around Clark.

Its the best offer and we're so excited that we can fully experience the festivity of flying.


Thanks again Annalyn for handling the media reg and sympre thanks to Ms Millet for organizing a media activity for us bloggers / vloggers / media


Wanna ride the sky?? then try these sky attraction activities. I heard that the hot air balloon ride are fully booked, but then if you got the budget, then try sky diving, paragliding and also heli ride.


We missed our early breakfast that morning, because we left the hotel at around 5am and breakfast opens at 6am hahaha. But we're happy to see hotdog stands inside the venue. We bought our hot dog sandwiches here and ate it while waiting for the opening of the ramp gate.

Ramp are the entire ground field of the hot air balloon. To enter, you need to buy a special photographer's pass or ramp pass for a price of PHP1,500 and also rent a reflector vest with deposit of PHP500. If you are interested to walk around the ramp and see upclose the giant balloons, then inquire at the ticketing gate for the special ramp pass.


Sunrise here at Clark is awesome! its always the go signal that the hot air balloons are ready to filled with hot air and use the cold air to make it more weightless


Local performers from Pampanga played the banduria and showcased the Pampanga folk music and songs. I only recognize the -- Ati kupung sing sing song.


The sun is almost up and the cold clouds in the sky starts to deplete, but here in the grounds and lower troposphere are still filled with cold air. A good timing for the balloons to fly


The audience at the back was disturbed by this loud engine noise, we're not sure what it is at first, but then we are surprised to see 3 fighter jet from the PAF showcasing their fly by maneuvers and it was a very awesome attraction to see our air force showing their strength.


I was watching these guys fixing the balloon, then one of the guy joked on me and said that kids these days doesn't know how to fix their bed after waking up, so here's how you do it in  a large scale. I was laughing hard because I think that kid he mention is - ME!

Im the guy who is lazy to fix my own bed after waking up hahahah


Street dancers from Pampanga are now dancing during the start of the program.


And then our national flag was carried by one of the paraglider ---- the time where we sing our Philippines national anthem.

There are a lot of photographers who are first time to cover this event, and I told them they should not miss this first feature of the Philippine-International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2018


Lots of paragliders and parasailers (or should I say sky sailors ) roam the sky while we wait for the balloons to go full inflate. I started to panic that time because 26 hot air balloons are inflating at the same time.

Run to the east and west side just to see and witness the action of all ground crew, pilots, marshals and chase team.


The donkey hot air balloon is one of my new fave! hahaha the form is so hilarious.
Did you know that this year's event has the large number of hot air balloons with special shapes.


Everything became so tiny when the hot air balloon goes full inflate. Check out that 4x4 vehicle and people around the ballons, they started to look like a toy.

These balloons are transported here and it can cost at around PHP500,000 for its transfer with the pilots. And these balloonist are professionals and love to come back here to support the event and also showcase their country's flag and their expertise in hot air balloon flight.


Here's my annual selfie with Ms Millet, a volunteer PR and media manager for the event.
Thanks so much for having us! next year uli


Having a selfie fun with my fellow blogger friends. Here's Ruth and Kisty


I learned from Anagon that she'll ride the elephant princess balloon.
She's waiting and on stand by near the deflated balloon


Spotted the Unang Hirit host and celeb Luane Dy and with his male co-host for the show;s segment.


I was shooting a B-roll for my vlog and then a pretty lady from the audience fence waved a hello to me...awww I didn't got her name, but her BF at the back gave me a bad stare...yikes! hahaha


Spotted our celebrity friend Janice Hung vlogging on site.


Capt Joy Roa, the chief organizer of the event. Thanks again sir and congrats for the success of the Philippine-International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2018


Recently, Jollibee releases 3 kinds of web videos for Valentines Day. This photo that I captured might be a good 4th web video of Jollibee.. Hmmm what will be the best title ??   --- Tagpuan.


The hot air balloons are almost ready to fly, but then don't forget to compose your epic selfie with the hot air balloons on the back ground.

Here's my effort of taking my own selfie with a use of a Joby tripod.



I was planning to choose for the best blog photo cover, but the main photo posted at the every 1st body of this post is my fave photo ever.


Balloons started to fly around us, then these two paragliders are showing off their skills in flying and maneuver using a rotor and chute. They just glide up and down above us and try to circle around the balloons --- wow! that's an awesome stunt --- done only by professionals.


One of the new special shape balloons....kaso sobra layo nya! sayang! sana sa tapat ng audience area sya nag inflate.


Here's my tiny planet photo using my Insta 360 Air camera
Watch out for my next post featuring a 360 degrees photo of the entire event.


Panoramic shot with Enzo Luna


Panoramic selfie with our blogger friends Aci, Oscar and kids


I was below the Yoda balloon, then it flew hahaha. I forgot to take a close up pic when it starts to hover. The balloons fly so fast and its so awesome how it became so weightless by just using a warm air in the balloon and cold air of the atmosphere ---  can be done only in the morning and also after sunset.


Anagon spotted riding the elephant princess balloon, also at the other side of the basket is Seph Cham. I was surprised when he called me and I thought that Anagon was alone there hahahah

Great to see you guys up in the air.

Here's what Seph captured when they are on air ---- that;s me waving at them --- hello!


Bye balloons!!!!
Next year.. I will ride -- I want to ride the Yoda balloon.


The balloons will be on air for 1 1/2 hour, the landing spot is in a lahar desert field in Porac, Pampanga. The pilot and riders will be fetched by the chase team and then transported back here in Clark Freeport.


One of the new highlights of the 22nd Philippine-International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2018 are the WingWalkers aerosuperbatic stunt performers.

Two searman biplanes will fly in the air and on top of the plane will be an aerobatics or acrobatics with harness that will do some stunts like loops, rolls, stall turns and these aerobatics perform while the plane flies and do its own stunt. This is an aerial show not to be missed.


Each flyby above us a breath taking moment. Because above and front of us is the main stage for the 22nd Philippine-International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2018. Whenever they flyby they start to perform their aerosuperbatics and plane stunts.

Imagine a ballerina on top of plane, dancing and swaying their arms and legs gracefully and in sync.


Here's my upclose shot of the WingWalkers



The most scary sight is that when the two plane will pass on each other --- that's 10 feet in distance to each other and that's up to around --- 50 feet above us.

I've learned that the engine used in their searman bi plane are the high performance kind. It means its better and its like a plane engine on steroids.

The WingWalkers performance is around 7am-8am, it will begin right after the flight of the hot air balloons.


Since none of us will try  -- sky diving, paragliding, wingwalker, hot air balloon and hmm what else? ahhhh parasailing.... so we declined all of it..  That;s the result when you got a scare from high heights.

But that's okay, we chose to ride a Robinsons helicopter for a 15 minute tour around clark --- for me, this is one of the best activity. The Robinsons helicopter is a small heli that can fit 3 passenger, this is used as a private heli, sky tour, media coverage heli and also a good heli for pilots who needs more flight hour training.


Its my first time to ride the heli and it was like Im riding the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars ahahaha. It was like riding a small car that can fly and do sharp turns and glide. According to our pilot Lloyd Garcia, who is from Dumaguete City, this small heli is easy to control and can do maneuver movements.


No fear, but we have excitement and pure joy!!! appreciating our aviation industry. And good to hear that aviation school are so active here in Pampanga.


My view from above -- wow ang dami exclusive subdivision near Clark.


Here's a quick vlog selfie when the heli starts to glide to the right.


Safe landing!!!  thank you to PIHABF and to our pilot Lloyd Garcia for this awesome experience....if this will be offered to me next year..I will definitely give it a go!

You can watch my FB Live of our helicopter tour


After the heli ride, we went back to our hotel to check out and also eat lunch in Mila's tokwa't baboy sisig resto in Balibago.

Wow! check out our shoes --- black shoes turned white because of the lahar dust hahahah. So ayan tip na yan, if you will come at the 22nd Philippine-International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2018, make sure you wear closed shoes and not flip flops.

For my review of the 22nd Philippine-International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2018, I can say that this is the best ever among the previous years. Why? because they have a nice selection of balloons of special shapes and also featuring the WingWalkers which is a first in the Philippines. Although the AFP and PAF exhibits are gone -- not sure if they are there, but Im glad that they still offer more attractions for everyone.

If you plan to visit the event this weekend -- make sure you wake up early, be there at 430am and get ready to be amazed by the skills of our local and foreign pilots and balloonist.

Thanks for reading!! see you next year and dont forget to always WATCH THE SKIES!!!

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, Philippine Bloggers Network, Oh My Food! community, Cavite Bloggers, Travel and Blog Community, and Philippine ToyCon. Azrael's Merryland Blog is included in a list of top 50 Blogs in the Philippines , ranked 65th in Top 100 Blogs that Matter , 49 must read lifestyle blog in the Philippines. and rank 40th in 100 Top Philippine Blogs by Feedspot.
He loves to travel, explore, discover, eat new food, document and record his life, meet new people, do photography and collect Transformers toys.
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