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Thursday, March 29, 2018

#VisitPampanga - The Lubao hot air balloon, food trip, and wake board adventure!

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Hey everyone! Im back from a 5 day trip last week and its my first time to be at Lubao, Pampanga. Every year, I always receive an invitation to attend the Lubao International Hot Air Balloon and Music Festival, I always fail to attend it because I don't have any clue where and how to travel and there was an attempt 2 years ago that I will be riding the bus with the media, but I failed to wake up in the morning.

But this year, I got a chance to visit Lubao and also attend the hot air balloon festival, its my first time and since we are staying in Pampanga for 5 days and to cover the 3 day event, I decided to challenge myself to do a SAME DAY EDIT of my vlog and upload same day or next day so that everyone are updated and get a close look of the event and get to feel what we experienced.

I was planning to do a same day or next day blog post, but waking up early at 4am is so hard because we need to travel from Clark, Pampanga going to Lubao, Pampanga, that will take us a 1 1/2 hour travel because we visit San Fernando, Pampanga to pick up another blogger media group staying in a different hotel.

We got the invite, me and the #EATgetaway team are excited and prepared it for a week, then we invited our blogger friend Aci Girl to join with us to the trip.

Welcome to my 2 part blog post about our #VisitPampanga featuring our adventure at the Lubao International Hot Air Balloons and Music Festival 2018 day 1.



Our plan is to travel a day before the main balloon flight event, but then we got confirmation from our contact that we are required to attend the Vivo V9 launch in Nobu Hotel.  The #EATgetaway team re-organizes our plan and we informed our Pampanga contact Jeoff Solas, that our departure from Manila will be delayed and we expect that we are in Clark at around 10pm.

The event of Vivo V9 ended at around 11pm, so we are still in Pasay at that time, Ted wasn't able to join because he came from an Asus event in Ortigas. Me with Aci and Enzo went to Shangri La Mall to pick up Ted -- riding us also inside the car is Jeman, who will be joining the media bus service that will leave Eton Centris at 1am. We drop Jeman at Eton and then the #EATgetaway team traveled going to Clark at around 12am.


Great to meet Ms Daryl of Vivo Philippines that night.


Enzo is behind the wheels driving his Avanza MPV vehicle and then Ted is assigned as co-pilot.
Me and Aci are just at the back monitoring the travel and also creating a chat to keep everyone awake.


We arrived in Royce Hotel and Casino located in Clark, Pampanga. Our contact booked us here for 5 days and this will be our home here in Pampanga. Its my first time here at Royce Hotel and it feels great to finally visit it and got a room to stay, I've been in contact with the PR agency that handles the hotel, but after 2 years,  our contact and friend booked us for a 5 day stay! awesome!

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Here's our room at Royce Hotel and Casino.
The room is nice, the aircon is cooling the room so fast, I like hotel rooms that are so neat and spacious.  Royce Hotel and Casino doesn't have a swimming pool, but they give out coupons for guest to try the swimming pool at Fontana Water Park here in Clark.

We didn't got a time to try the pool at Fontana, but we will try it soon in our next visit, if ever.


I'm still wearing my polo shirt from the Vivo V9 event, my last photo of the day...


But wait.. I need to take a bath first and also wear my sleeping outfit. Just to make myself feel at home and comfy.

Yun nga lang, we slept for 1-2 hours that time, because we need to leave Clark at 4am and head to San Fernando to pick up another blogger team from another hotel.  At that time, we didnt realized that it was a  1 1/2 hour road travel from the two hotels going to Lubao.

But we're glad that it was a long ride...we got time to sleep and re-energize hehhee.



I woke up and a bit confused because I'm still sleepy and I didn't realized we just reached Pradera Verde, the main venue of the event located in Lubao, Pampanga.

The sunrise view at Pradera Verde is awesome! It was a go signal for me to wake up, get ready, be alert and set up a time lapse video to capture the flight of the balloons.


After entering the venue, I ran til the end of venue, near the tarp divider. I placed my tripod and my SJCAM M20 camera to capture a time lapse video of the scene.

I left my camera there and I prayed that it won't be stolen or get ran over by a 4x4 vehicle. I also noticed that the ground is also filled with lahar ashes, but the ground is better because there's a lot of green grass. But we need to be careful, there are some areas that have pot holes.


The sun is up and we haven't seen any balloons flying, so we waited for another 30 minutes and we wondered why the balloons are not yet ready.

We waited and maybe the program is not yet started, but then later on we learned that the balloons will not fly that day because of harsh wind condition. This blue balloon tried to inflate in full, but the pilots decided to pack up and prepare for the next day.


No balloons flight for day 1, but that's okay, the most important part here is that we made it to travel to Lubao, Pampanga. First timers, but we will still enjoy our stay here.

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Spotted our blogger friends who came from the media bus trip - Teacher Angel, Jeman and Bettina

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Here's that blue balloon, now packing it up. The pilots are a disappointed that day, because it was supposed to be the 1st morning flight and then we experienced a very bad wind condition. It was cold that morning, and then my friend who works at PAGASA saw my FB post and left a comment and said that the Amihan is still present that's why the wind is still strong.

Its impossible to fly a balloon under the harsh wind condition, I saw one balloon attempted to have a stable position, but the wind swirls around and drags a balloon like a rubber ball, Im glad that the balloons are tethered onto their 4x4 chase car.

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No balloon flights.
No problem.
The pilots decided to inflate the balloon and let it stand during the morning. We can still see them inflated with colorful designs and shapes.

The show must go on!
I stayed here at the ramp area of the balloons to cover and shoot the hot air balloon action. Little I know that there's a mini interview and appearance of VIP Guest in the area -- I heard that there's the presence of our Department of Tourism, represented by Kat De Castro,  Undersecretary of Tourism Advocacy and Public Affairs of the Philippine Department of Tourism, and also attending is our Former President and now-Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then I learned that day that she is from Lubao, Pampanga.

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When the balloons are out, its time to capture that best selfie moment! haha
I just used my DSLR camera to record it all for my VLOG, then I just take a screenshot of the scene to use it as my photo - okay secret revealed! haha  Its hard kasi to take a photo and video at the same time.

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Balloon selfie with Enzo Luna

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Spotted Aci Bebe Girl capturing her perfect selfie using a Sony smartphone

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Finally!! I saw the PHL hot air balloon. I missed their appearance last February's Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, I heard that they didn't make it, but its great to see the balloons are in good shape.

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I was roaming around and then photographer Nelson bump on to me and I was surprised to see him again, and then told me that they are now inflating the SM Supermalls hot air balloon.


Flying whales in the sky!
Its my first time to see these whales, they are not balloons, they are like giant giant made from nylon fabric, the same fabric used by the hot air balloons, they are light weight and powered by the air and wind. There's a small kite at the back of the whale to keep it up in the air.

It was the best sight for me as a first time attendee of the Lubao International Hot Air Balloon and Music Festival 2018.

I want to see more of these flying whales next year!


More balloons are up!


Close up look at the flying whale.
For me the whales are the most awesome part for day 1.

Imagine if they have more of these...its like we see sea creatures flying around the sky.

As our friend Aki and Yumi from When in Manila,  mentioned -- today is a kite festival and not a hot air balloon.

hahhah I agree!!!


More hot air balloons are starting to inflate
This time....the balloons with special shapes.
Oh I see that scary clown once again hahaha. Sorry ha, Im scared of clowns


But the most epic sight is to see the Christ the Redeemer hot air balloon!!! Wow!!! it was like the statue from Rio de Janeiro was transported here in Lubao, Pampanga.

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Also the flying blimp is a good added attraction here in Lubao. I also spotted some paragliders flying around the sky.

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Here are some snap shots from the our day 1 here in Lubao

Enzo and Aci are using their brand new GoPro Hero 6 action camera. Fresh from the box! hahahaha

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Enzo doing a spiel for my vlog, buy he was photo bomb by Bettina hahahah


Aci Girl so busy vlogging around the hot air balloon field.


Fujifilm X-series photographer Ted Claudio, capturing some paragliders using his Fujifilm X-T10 with Fujinon telephoto lens.


Pilots and crew roam around the field riding their ATV vehicle.


The balloon now firing up to inflate while tethered to this 4x4 vehicle.


Enzo spotted our media photographer friend who is also covering the event


A crew member on top of a 4x4 vehicle continues to watch the parade of the colorful hot air balloons.


I think I've waked 75% of the field, here I spotted Aci and Angel covering the event.
While not busy, its time to capture another selfie while the PHL balloon is not yet ready.


Earlier, I recorded a 1 hour time lapse during the sunrise, but that was a fail recording because there's no balloons that appear during that time.

But when the balloons started to inflate, I pick up my camera and tripod and placed it near the balloons to shoot another time lapse -- but this time it will be just a 15 seconds recording -- that's a total of a 15 minute of camera recording.


After the balloons hours, we went back to the media tent area to take a rest and also recharge some batteries. I think we stayed there for 2 hours.

I just slept while we wait for our car service that will take us back to the hotel.

on photo: Ted's camera gear, Enzo's camera and also my camera with the Joby tripod.


I got I told Enzo and Aci that we go out and check out the stage area and see some action within the event ground.

At the stage area, we saw some kids performing an acoustic set.


It was also a semi-ocular, because I want to see the food booths and other merch area in the event.


I also noticed that there's a film crew doing some focal measurement on site. I think there might be a movie shoot on the next day.


I also spotted this giant Christmas lantern. They will light it up at night. Its a crank powered lantern, but for this set up, it is powered by a motor. The crank is for the lights  to display a playful colorful.




It was scorching hot but these kite flyers didn't stop them to play with the wind and their kite. I was planning to buy one kite and fly it that morning, but I just can't keep up with the sunny heat.
Or maybe I was just tired because of that 2 hours sleep hahahaa.



Lovers in Lubao
ohhh....these lovers were in a moment when a singer on stage performed a romantic song.
awww.. nakaka inggit hahahah


Student dance group on stage


I was wondering why there are lots of rickshaw roaming around the field. Then upon closer look, I learned that there's some kind of test drive happening. One of the rickshaw seller is inviting everyone to try to drive a rickshaw.

One of my dream is to acquire one machine and I will use it for travel. I got inspired by a friend when I saw that he travels around the island using a rickshaw vehicle. check out his Youtube and watch how he travel to Baguio with his family riding a rickshaw -- watch it here ->


We just did some photo shoot moments while under the sun.


Im glad Im not that model that day ahahah
Ask Aci what she have learned in force perspective photo shoot.


This guy wears a monkey mask..... bakit kaya?


Why there's a Vivo mascot at the Huawei booth?
Buti hindi sya binugbog haha


The most funniest part here is that...we spotted a banner tarp of Zoocobia containing photos of Aci herself and husband Oscar. We all laughed because she was shocked to see her face on the banner tarp at the Zoocobia booth.


Good luck Aci...  send them an invoice when you get back home



At the Zoocobia booth, kids and parents can enter the animal display area, after paying an entrance fee, they can now have a close encounter with some eagles, owls, rabbits and also ride a camel.

Yes..they have a camel!



We went inside the Pradera Verde Wake Board Park. For me this is one of the best wake board park ever!!!

I like the motorized handle bar that circles around the man made lake.



All you have to do is hang on and hold the handle bar and let the cable pull you around the lake while your foot are locked in a board.

We were suppose to try this but the line is so damn long. We will try wake boarding next time.

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Before we go back to the hotel, we went to View Park restaurant at Pradera Verde to eat our lunch.
Wow!!! sarap ng food talaga sa Pampanga! It is really a culinary capital of the Philippines.

My fave food that day is the bistek tagalog and the sinigang na manok!


Back in our van...we took the Mega Dike route passing through to Mabalacat.
OMG it was another 1 1/2 hour ride. But it was okay, we got a time to rest and also enjoy the view


Here's what I look like after my 1 hour sleep inside the van hahaah
wasak ako dito LOL


At the hotel, after some 2 hours nap, I loaded all video files and started editing my vlog series about our trip.  I finish the editing but I uploaded it while we are back in Lubao for the hot air balloons night glow.

Also we got a scheduled interview - Silent Sanctuary, Ex Battalion and Moira dela Torre.

Stay tuned for more and watch our for my part of my #VisitPampanga blog series.

Thanks for reading!

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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Oct 10
3pm - HONOR Launch in BGC
4pm - Globe x Bistro Group event in BGC

Oct 11
2pm -real estate event in Makati
6pm - Whisky Live Manila presscon

Oct 12
11am - Bounty Fresh event in Trinoma
6pm- Marvel Studios 10th anniversary launch in SM Aura

Oct 13
10am Sunny Eve baptism
2pm iDiscover Quiapo tour
8pm POPTALK TV guesting on GMA News TV

Oct 14
9am - DSWD event in Sky Dome

Oct 15
11am tech event in SM North EDSA

Oct 18
2pm Tech event in MOA
10m Philpop event in BGC

Oct 28-29
Out of town trip