The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival (PiHAB) is annual event held between January thru February in Clark Freeport Zone, Angeles City, Pampanga. It is an exhibition of colorful balloons, sky diving, para-gliding and several other activities which, as a whole, makes it a wonderful event to attend to. I was lucky enough to have witness this amazing event together with tons of other visitors. It was jam-packed with tourist and locals trying to get the best spot and view the amazing display of hot air balloons.
It all started 3 years after the devastation caused by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Local economy had a massive strike after the eruption and there was a need to boost it out. The Department of Tourism, together with some foreign businessmen and hot air balloon enthusiasts, led the first ever Hot Air Balloon Festival in 1994. Their main target was promote local tourism, increasing the local economy, and boosting the morals of the locals specially those affected by the tragic eruption. There were 21 balloon pilot from 10 countries and 1 entry from the Philippines that jump-started this historical event. It was a success.
Several tour packages are always advertised throughout the internet whether its from Facebook, Metrodeal and other travel sites. However, for this one, I joined an organized tour hosted by Campers and Backpackers (CAB) since I have been to several of their events and I enjoyed their company.
This year’s event opened on February 9th and lasted until February 12th. I had my tour arranged on the 11th. We left Manila around 1 am in the morning of the 11th and we arrived around 5 am in Clark Freeport Zone. The moon was still up and gazing down on the field. It was an awesome time to take that perfect shot of the moon.
The program started with the departure of 2 coast guard planes carrying several sky divers including one sky diver that has the Philippine flag. It was when the sky diver with the Philippine flag had its level close to the ground that the Philippine National Anthem was played.
While most of the balloons were being air’d up, there were several sky diving exhibitions happening above including these foreign twins which amazed everyone.
Afterwards, the balloons were starting to line up one by one. From a normal shaped hot air balloon to some special ones. There were balloons shaped like a pile of chili peppers (though they kinda look like a bunch of c****ms…LOL!), another shaped like a house, and I cannot forget the one shaped like Master Yoda. There was a pink elephant balloon, a toy car balloon, and a dog-shaped balloon, all of them very appealing to the eyes.
Though we already left after witnessing the release of the balloons in the air, there were still several activities to do inside the field. You can get the chance to hop on one of the balloons, they have drifting shows, more sky-diving exhibition, and tons more.
For all those planning to visit next year’s event, make sure you bring a sunblock as it gets really hot come noon time. The venue is a bit dusty as well as it is an undeveloped field. Tickets are sold upon entry or if you joined an organized tour.
This is it for now…so see y’all. ‘Til my next adventure!