We left Quezon City at 3:10AM. It took us one hour and ten minutes to get to McDonald's in Dau. Thank gad they have decent coffee now, although the breakfast food seems to be more plastic-like than ever before.
At 5AM, we entered Clark Air Base, parked the car (Php50 per vehicle), paid the festival entrance fee (Php200 per person) and planted ourselves at the fence to wait for the event to begin. Cheap acid techno versions of insipid pop songs blasted our ears and I thought I would go mad.
Finally, at 6:22AM, a bunch of jeeps and pick-up trucks drove onto the field and dawn started to break. (Sunrises are really very nice, if only they weren't so early.)
Testing the burners.
Inflating the envelopes.
It was almost 7AM when the paratroopers came down with the Philippine flag, while the national anthem played on the ginormous tinny speakers. (Paging the organizers: Can't you do something to improve your sounds? You've been doing this for 17 years.)
The birthday cake balloon, a crowd favorite, was one of the first to be ready to take off.
Up, up and away!
The others quickly followed suit.
I particularly liked the smiling yellow car with blue wheels. So cute!
Powered paragliders-- as opposed to conventional paragliding without engines-- zipped excitedly overhead as the balloons floated sedately away.
The Plants Vs. Zombies sunflower had the biggest envelope and was the last to launch.
All the kids in the crowd, as well as the kids at heart, loved the panda balloon.
Morning light is truly the best if you're planning to take pictures. The festival runs for four days, from Thursday to Sunday. We decided to go on the second day, 10 February 2012, anticipating that the organizers had already worked out the kinks on the first day, and hoping to avoid the Saturday and Sunday crowds.
We had the best weather on Friday! Yez, we're lucky like dut.
We left the festival grounds at 7:30AM. By that time, the sun was broiling hot and we weren't really interested in the other activities.
For more information about the 17th Philippine International Hot Air Fiesta, visit Anton Diaz's website. But I just gotta say that my photos are better. Way better.