Sunday, April 1, 2018

Proudly Up In the Air Again at the Lubao International Balloon and Music Festival

Wazzup Pilipinas!

All things came into place as if we were destined to be there flying up in the air again in a hot air balloon. To be specific, I rode on the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) hot air balloon but flown by a foreign pilot.

From the availability of restaurants to feature, and a luxurious accommodation to become our temporary home, our planned coverage of the Lubao International Balloon and Music Festival turned out to be more glamorous than we expected.

We basically never expected the opportunity to ride a hot air balloon. We were actually contented with just seeing them getting inflated and taking photos and videos (including selfies and groupfies) as they flew up into the skies of Lubao, Pampanga.

However, someone up there has better plans for us as He has given us more than what we wished for.

Incidentally, a request to feature a new restaurant at SM Clark, Pampanga also played a big part in our Pampanga tour. When we found out the restaurant owner also has a villa for rent, we asked her if she could also let us stay overnight, and quickly jumped on the opportunity when she agreed.

But we were still pushing our luck. With her having a second (and even a third) restaurant, we swallowed our pride and asked if she could let us feature her other restaurant, and we were in Cloud 9 when she agreed.

Yet still our luck was going non-stop as we met a friend of hers who happens to own another restaurant, and it is as if fate has connived with destiny to make our Pampanga story a lot more interesting, we were happy we got ourselves another restaurant feature.

That and another buffet restaurant at SM Clark, since we still have unused Gift Certificates that we could use, made it a total of four restaurants to feature in our blog.

Our luck seems to be also more than just magical since we were fortunate to be invited to the media day - Day 0 (March 22) of the festival where only media and VIPs get the chance to ride the hot air balloons with the foreign pilots. It's probably also sort of a test flight before Day 1 o(March 23), but who we are to complain especially when Day 1 arrived and not a single hot air balloons was able to fly due to strong wind conditions.

We will never get tired of seeing these majestic and colorful hot air balloons as they slowly filled up the launch area. Seeing them inflated up close and personal is quite memorable eventhough it was not our first time to witness such a spectacle.

The actual balloon flight of less than an hour was equally magical as aside from the heat of the flames which actually keeps us afloat up in the air.

Kudos to my Korean-but-Japan-based pilot for a smooth ride, and hello again to my Japanese media co-passenger who shared the ride with me.

We also have to thank the people and kids who met us at the field where we landed. Of course, we also have to include the chase crew who helped pack up the balloon and basket onto their vehicles and back to base.

Of course we were so happy that we were among the very first people to ride the hot air balloon, while the media peeps who arrived at Day 1 missed out on the opportunity. It was also a good thing that balloon flights for the rest of the festival days were successful. People deserve to witness such an amazing sight. The balloons are totally great looking on both photo and video but 10 times more fascinating when you see the balloons for real.

All we could say is Wow! We were very fortunate of how events transpired that we could truly affirm that we were the luckiest people during those days from March 21 to 23. Too bad we have to attend other events back in Manila because that weekend was jam-packed with several events like the Comic Con Asia and the Inside Racing Festival among others.

Watch out for our video coverage and interviews, and a lot more photos, on many Wazzup Pilipinas social media pages like Facebook and YouTube.

Photography by Collin Yap

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