Our two-day sun and sand getaway at Nagsasa Cove in Zambales was indeed so refreshing. Before we left the jump-off point we ate our brunch then we set off for a long drive going back to Manila. When we were along Gapan Road, everyone was talking about snack. We searched for dining options somewhere in Pampanga which is known for its sophisticated culinary work and exotic dish. We saw one restaurant but did not seem very interesting so we moved on. By a stroke of luck, we stumbled upon this humble restaurant Apag Marangle which was beside the main highway in Sta. Barbara, Bacolor, Pampanga.
A visit to Nayong Pilipino in Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga gave us the opportunity to go back in time and embraced our heritage, values and culture. This cultural theme park which was once located in Pasay City features replicas of historical sites, tourist spots, native villages and cultural presentations. Among the prime attractions are the houses of our national heroes like Dr. Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini and the first president of the country, Emilio Aguinaldo.
This is my first time to watch the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival, the longest-running sports event in Asia which is now on its 21st year. I’ve heard this is the last festival, so I enjoined my family my niece and nephews to witness this exciting activity at OMNI Aviation in Clark, Pampanga which will happen on February 9 to 12, 2017.
We went on Saturday, February 11, 2017 so everybody can come. Riding in our van, we left Manila by 1:30 am aiming to reach Clark by 5:00 am. Unfortunately, the road accident in NLEX, Bulacan and the traffic inside Clark Field failed us to come on time. So we have no option but to start walking together with the crowd, leaving my hubby and my son battling with the traffic situation.
General admission ticket price is Php350.00. Children below 3 feet in height can enter for free. Senior citizen is entitled to 20% discount by presenting proper ID. It’s good that we already bought our ticket ahead of time so we skipped a very long queue. I didn’t expect a huge crowd when we entered the festival ground. Since we have kids and two elders, we had a hard time squeezing our way. We failed to get close with the balloons.
Like us, most of the guests were standing to have a better view of the much-awaited sight. Others were sitting on picnic mats and some inside their tents. By 6:30 am, balloons were being inflated.
The first thing that captured everybody’s delight was the sky divers who jumped off from the plane carrying the Philippine flag. Through their parachutes, they wound up their landing perfectly.
Soon, the balloons took off slowly but gracefully into the morning sky. The aerial spectacle was good to look at as it came into various sizes, colors and shapes. Aside from hot air balloon, tandem paragliding is another exciting aerial activity to watch for in the sky. They were so small in the sky but got bigger as they slowly got close to the ground.
After several hot air balloons released on air, we decided to sit on the picnic mat. It was getting hotter and people were getting more and more. I strolled around to look for food. The only food chain there was Jollibee on wheels. But hey! The huge crowd did not allow me to get close. It was jam packed.
Later, my hubby called me to fetch them at the entrance. After almost two hours of traffic, finally, they were able to park our van which according to them, a kilometer away from the entrance. They did not bring our breakfast meal because we will not stay long. When we went to our buddies they were famished and sweating. They were telling us to go home or go somewhere else. With no more balloons flying in the sky, we now decided to pack up.
While we were heading to the exit, we were so disappointed to see a large influx of people going to one direction. Some guests were complaining to the staff about the situation and yet they did not do anything about it. Guests were pushing with each other. Children were crying. We were trapped!
I’ve heard from one of the guests that this event is not the last. If this was just a tactic to attract more visitors, well it worked. If there will be next event this year, I hope they will choose a much bigger ground with more exits and not as dusty as this one.
When at last after an hour of patience, sweating and pushing, we reached the exit. Well, they failed to handle the event well. Poor kids.
Well, we all went for experience. There were two things we learned today; to be patient and appreciative. When I asked Shen, Isha, Axe and Magnus if they enjoy the day with the balloons, they gladly said yes. It’s good that despite the disappointment, they found delight in it. If only we were much closer to the balloons and with lesser crowd, it was more fun and meaningful.
It was so nice watching balloons soaring up high. The next time we visit, we know what to do and what time we will leave.
Since Sandbox at Alivera was crowded too, we decided to end our day visiting Nayong Filipino as our side trip.
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