Hot air balloons fiesta in NCC, a flop?

Hot air balloons fiesta in NCC, a flop?

I was the PR Officer of SM City Clark when it first joined the Hot Air Balloon Festival held in Clark way back in 2008. This experience became the springboard of my fascination of "The Weekend of Everything That Flies". In fact, we had our pre-nuptial pictorial during the 2010 Hot Air Balloon Fiesta a month before our March wedding. Since then, I have looked forward to the yearly festivity even when it was transferred to Pradera Verde in Lubao, Pampanga. I brought my kids to witness the hot air balloons as they took off early in the morning.

It cannot be contested that the Hot Air Balloon Festival which happens every February in the Clark Economic Zone has been one of the much anticipated local tourism events in Pampanga for more than 12 years since it was relaunched in 2000. This annual fest, which draws in more than 60,000 tourists from nearby provinces and even foreign countries, is dubbed as the “biggest aviation sports event in the Philippines” as it features very colorful and specially-designed hot air balloons flown by more than a hundred balloon pilots from all over the world. Aside from these main attractions, the event also includes other events such as skydiving, remote-control airplane and helicopter flying exhibitions, freestyle aerobatics, kite-making and choreographed kite-flying, and other aerial stunts and sports events.

Of course, the pandemic happened and this also halted the staging of the yearly event. But after three years since 2020, the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Foundation Inc. (PIHABF) decided to revive the annual festival last February 16-18 at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. However, as I scrolled down my Facebook feed during the weekend, I felt that the event did not create that much hype and I even scrutinized the pictures posted and saw that there were only a few spectators.

I did not pay too much attention to this but only realized that my gut feeling was right when Sir Deng Pangilinan posted a status update on his social media feed saying that the lack of support from BCDA, DOT, and even the LGU of Tarlac caused the unsuccessful staging of the event. According to his post, he feels sorry for the organizers as the festival did not yield the expected turnout compared to previous years.

Well, it will be a basis for next year's consideration for the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta venue given the results of this year's staging of the highly-anticipated event.


Speaking of balloons, one of my favorite Pixar-Disney movies is Up which was released in 2009. The film evolves on the story of an elderly widower named Carl Fredricksen and an earnest young Wilderness Explorer named Russell. By tying thousands of balloons to his home, the 78-year-old Carl sets out to fulfill his dream to see the wilds of South America and to complete a promise made to his late wife, Ellie.

Early in the movie, the journey of a married couple is drawn to be the main theme and shows the various upsets of married life. While the couple was shown in the movie to not being blessed with children, Carl and Ellie hurdled through many trials, many of which are financial as shown in a very creative storytelling tool of the couple’s glass coin bank being broken several times to pay for worn car tires, home repairs, and other expenses.

This movie has always served as my inspiration as it teaches us a lot of heart-touching lessons that can help us deal with life’s ordeals more positively and encouragingly. Blogger Anwesha Maiti lists down the 12 Heart-touching Lessons on Love from the movie Up:

1. True love can last a lifetime. Like Carl’s love for Ellie did.

2. No matter how different your backgrounds are, if you love each other nothing else matters.

3. To hold each others’ hands through thick and thin is what love is.

4. Because love founded on a shared dream is everlasting. Even if the dream doesn’t get fulfilled.

5. To love is to keep promises, no matter how long you take to fulfill them. And love doesn’t die with a person.

6. People aren’t perfect, but it is our love that makes people perfect.

7. Your love for adventure doesn’t have to be limited by age. Age is just a number after all!

8. You can go to great lengths to save your love, even if it’s just a colorful bird.

9. To become a family, it is not mandatory to be related by blood.

10. There are times when it’s possible to love at first sight.

11. And that sometimes, the highest award that life can bestow on you is the Ellie badge.

12. And lastly, true love is hard to find. When you have found it, take good care of it while you still have time.


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