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10 Tips and Facts for the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark, Pampanga Traveler

9 February 2011

10 Tips and Facts for the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark, Pampanga Traveler

Here are some 10 things that will come in handy for those who are going to this year’s hot air balloon festivity at Clark in Pampanga. Those who went in their own private vehicles or as a group whose transport had been pre-arranged sure had it great. Going to Clark, Pampanga via public transport, however, is an entirely different level of adventure, more so when none of the people with you know how to get to the event venue, hahaha. Talk about hard core! Enough of the blah and on with my definitive guide, owing to our personal experience during the 15th Hot Air Balloon Festival. Bookmark this page for future reference, dear backpacker/day-traveller.

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos (teams)

1. The Commute: there were five of us who decided on taking a bus for the Hot Air Balloon Festival. Take the Victory Liner or Dagupan Bus Lines from Cubao. Bus fare is P102.00 (2010 rate) for Dau, Pampanga via Dagupan Bus Lines. It’s a good thing that we left our homes at 2:00 a.m. because there were no Victory Liner buses scheduled to leave before 4:30. Get off at the Dau stop over and take a jeepney along the highway (will take a short walk from the stop over spot) for the “Main Gate.” At the Main Gate, take another jeepney that will take you to the festival grounds. People in Angeles are very helpful. Ask if you feel lost or if you are not sure where you are.

2. Event Ticket: if you can, buy tickets before going to Clark via ticket outlets scattered around the Metro. Now be sure to bring those tickets because I know some people who forgot to bring theirs LOL. You can always buy them from the gate but prepared to fall in line because the Hot Air Balloon Festival is a BIG event and it will never fail to draw more and more tourists every year.

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos (dawn)

3. Start Time and Program Schedule: check the schedule from the event’s official website prior to going to Clark. During the Saturday event last year, the balloon flight was slated at 5:20 a.m. but the first balloons only started inflating at around 6:00 a.m. While the balloons were being set up, at around 6:19 a.m. a person in parachute came descending from the skies carrying with him the Philippine Flag as the speakers played the National Anthem. Everything has already flown at around 7:00 a.m. and right on schedule, too. There are things happening all day long but, next time, I’ll make sure I leave after the balloons. The scheduled re-flight at around dusk did not happen because the winds were too strong that they can’t even be inflated! I’ll explain more about this in a bit.

4. Vantage Point: only those with media badges are allowed in the field area where the balloons are being inflated. The rest of the spectators get to stay behind a gated area around 30 meters (or so) from the nearest hot air balloon. Those who came in early had the chance to stay right in front of the fence surrounding the main activity area.

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos (shell)

5. Photographers Galore: as mentioned, people who get inside the venue earlier usually choose to stay very close to the fenced area. As there are also LOTS of photographers wielding huge-ass lenses on standby in that perimeter, it’s gonna be a feat get to have a better position than most others. Usually, the really very early guests reign supreme: a usual perk enjoyed by the sleepless but deserving. Remember, you are shooting opposite the sunrise. It’s challenging enough to get a good shot of the balloons, and then this lighting problem! Caltex held a contest for each of the days during the festival last year, selecting 5 best shots from submissions. Winners could get to win gas cards and a year’s subscription to a locally published photography mag. Winson, who was with us that time, submitted a photograph and won the grand prize! Woot! Lastly, bring extra batteries for your camera. I can’t stress this important little reminder enough. For what use are 32Gb memory cards when your camera’s in a temporary coma.

6. Weather: I suggest that you bring a jacket for the bus trip. I never thought the early pre-Valentine’s Day morning in Pampanga can still be chilly. The event venue is an open field with several hangars that organizers managed to convert to covered activity areas. At noon, and thankfully, it got a bit cloudy so everyone had heavenly protection from harsh UV rays, so to speak. The wind picked up late in the afternoon, much to the kite flyers’ enjoyment. As a drawback, the commentator explained, the balloons that were supposed to fly that night had a hard time inflating because the wind speed rose to around 7-8 knots (8 to 9.2 miles per hour) at the open field. In the event that the balloons did get to inflate, there’s also the risk of endangering the onlookers. They still tried inflating the balloons and it was evident from where we were looking that they were all having a hard time.

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos (sun)

7. Food: there were trailers where Burger King, Jollibee, and McDonalds sold freshly prepared food (megots Burger King Chicken Sandwich! WIN!). There were also hotdog stands, carinderia-style meals, dimsum, ice cream, water, Halo-Halo courtesy of Kabigting Halo-Halo at the Marquee Mall booth (with pastillas as a main ingredient), and Yellow Cab Pizza, among others. Some brought food but, IMO, that’s too much of a hassle since arrangements for food stalls were well taken cared of by the organizers. Just bring cash since there are no ATMs inside the event area.

8. Mall-Access: Speaking of Marquee Mall, they offered free shuttle service to spectators that left every thirty minutes for the Mall. We left for Marquee Mall at around 8:30 only to find out that the mall opens at 10. Major bummer! Good thing Starbucks opened earlier than everybody else. We went around, having nothing else to do, and found ourselves inside Saizen (a Japanese store that sells anything for P85) where we spent a good hour getting awed at the littlest things. It is only here that I saw the most expansive CDR King branch ever! There we also traces of concepts stores, one for each of Microsoft, Lenovo, Toshiba, Logitech, and Dell, the likes of which we’ve never seen anywhere in the Metro. We had lunch in the mall before heading back for more Hot Air Balloon festivities via the way we came: free shuttle!

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos ( hot balloon)

9. Stay all day: Next year, I’d rather leave for home after the early morning balloon flight. Don’t get me wrong, staying there the entire day will get you your money’s worth for all P150 of it (still the same price as in 2010). There are portalets in strategic areas that would have been easy to use in the mornings but got filthy-gross at dusk. The emcee was outstanding. I was not able to get his name but kudos to you, whoever you are. That guy was talking all day, talking sense of what the “plane acrobatic pilots” (the actual name they’re called escapes me) were doing or are about to do as the flying exhibition happened, helping children find their lost parents (LOL), explaining about the balloons and the science behind the flights, and taking good care that the program remains interesting even for those who are not facing the stage or field area. It must be exhausting doing all that for four straight days in a row! *hat tip* I would not dare stay later than 3PM again because of my next and last learning…

10. Going home on commute: We had a hell of a hard time going back home at around 7:30 p.m. There was traffic everywhere and it seemed that every commuter from the festival decided to go home at exactly the same time. Jeepneys heading back to the “Main Gate” were scarce and the traffic congested. Terrific! Outstanding! When we finally reached the Dau bus terminal, getting a Manila-bound bus proved to be the hardest task for the day. Oh boy, never again. It’s either I’ll take my own ride going to Pampanga for next year’s festival or I’m leaving the venue earlier and forego the afternoon program.

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos (glider)

There you have it folks, 10 thinks you should know and prepare for when going to your next Hot Air Balloon Festival. Thanks to Marquee Mall for the Event Pass!

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Most Affordable Android from Samsung: Galaxy 5

23 October 2010

Most Affordable Android from Samsung: Galaxy 5

The Samsung Galaxy 5 (GT-I5503) is the cheapest, most affordable Google Android 2.1 platform run smartphone from Samsung yet. With specs like GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, and Samsung’s Social Hub, you’d think they’re crazy to retail the unit at an SRP of P10,980. The back plastic panel comes in two variants: black and white. The fine print says you can also use the unit as a remote control for your Samsung TV.

Samsung is currently running a contest but we’ll get to that in a bit. The prize is none other than FREE units of the Samsung Galaxy 5! (details below, after the photos)

When several Galaxy 5 units were made available for us to play with, it being the first ever android I got to navigate, seeing how every detail just comes together for one contact (messages, contact data, facebook/twitter updates) made me realize this is what I’m missing out on not giving in to the lure of mighty Google. Heard of the newest way of entering text when composing SMS or email via the screen called the Swype? Glide your finger on the letters of the word and release and there you go! Word! It’s nifty, intuitive, and pretty darn fast but would probably take some practice to get used to for some. Swype is an alternative to multi-tap (portrait) and the virtual QWERTY keyboard which appears on the screen when composing emails and text in landscape orientation.

The Samsung Galaxy 5 doesn’t look bad, either. Photos below.

Samsung Galaxy 5 (GT-I5503) Specs

Samsung Galaxy 5 (GT-I5503) (home screen)

Samsung Galaxy 5 (GT-I5503) (dial pad)

Samsung Galaxy 5 (GT-I5503) Menu

Samsung Galaxy 5 (GT-I5503) (back and 2 Megapixel camera)

Samsung Galaxy 5 (GT-I5503) (side)

Win a Samsung Galaxy 5 Contest

Contest is open to ALL UNIVERSITY/COLLEGE STUDENTS. Interested participants are required to “upload your most hip, beautiful and fashionable photo of yourself to the Samsung Galaxy 5 Tribe Facebook page and get a chance to be labeled as one of coolest students in the metro.” Full details of the mechanics are on the Samsung Galaxy 5 Tribe page under, duh, the Mechanics tab on the page.

The technique in joining facebook like contests such as this is join early and have a bunch of friends like your photo at the very soonest. It’ll give you more time to campaign is one. Remember to choose the best photo from your portfolio of sorts. This is an android phone we’re talking about. Early Christmas gift yo! Good luck with the win for those who will join!

Why Most of Us Still Want the Samsung Galaxy 5

This conversation with Arbet Bernardo, who for me could well be the seasoned veteran when it comes to Androids, happened not here but on plurk and though the main subject was on Smart not being able to release the N8 pre-orders on time today, October 23, we got sidetracked and the Galaxy 5 got mentioned. It’s worth sharing because we’ve pretty much covered what would convince techy netizens in getting one, even those who already have the HTC Magic, an SE Xperia X10, and several other phones. Transcript below:

Samsung Galaxy 5, cheapest android mobile fro Samsung yet plurk convo

Arbet: Been holding off getting this one. Grah.
Fritz: magtigil ka andami mo ng phone! ano yan, kaadikan? to talaga!
A: But it’s cheap!
F: walang flash and 2 megapix lang ang cam. sabagay, kung meron mang android na pang-commute, eto yun. di masyadong sayang pag nawala
A: but if the audio is great, good music player on the commute! And it’s small!
F: 1200mAh ang battery, gaya lang ng N8, so mahaba-habang buhay rin to kung sakali. Na-try mo na pakinggan audio via its music player? Ok?
A: Depends on the phone eh. The default music app is crap. If the phone has builtin audio effects/EQ great.
F: Di ko yan na-check. If meron mang improvements from the default, they did not drum that down as a major come on.

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Pictures from the bench/ Uncut Denim & Underwear Show (Part 2)

5 July 2010

Pictures from the bench/ Uncut Denim & Underwear Show (Part 2)

NOTE: The post before this is “Part 1″ of the Photos from the bench/ Uncut Denim & Underwear Show 2010. You might want to head there first. Thanks!

You never guessed there’ll be a second installment to that last post, right? Me neither. Looking back at it and judging by the sheer volume of organic hits I got from my beloved Google, I figured, I’d give you guys some more snaps to oogle at. Same great quality and still low in calories and sugar. Great for the heart, too! I won’t be putting up Jake Cuenca’s ass shot nor Rafael Rosell’s with his undies down on his knees because that’s just plain tacky. Also, I figured, why is Ben Chan’s photo not in that first set? And the designers, when owing to them, the whole world had an Uncut Denim & Underwear Show for 2010?!

I did mention that there were several hundreds of models, dancers, and performers who gave their best in that hour and a half abs/bosom-fest and most of them will go nameless to the then spectators and those who will see these images. Heck, even I don’t know half of the names of all supposedly popular models and TV personalities in these photos. The least I could do for them and their craft, however, is show them to you and, hopefully, it could reach them and they can show others and they’ll go, “I was there, showed them what I got, and here’s the proof.” Good times.

Let’s start with Ben Chan and the designers Cory Santiago (Pinoy Lab), Furne One (Far East), Val Taguba (Brazil), Ezra Santos (Africa), and Michael Cinco (Russia). Applause please! Yes, in front of your laptops, Macs, or PCs, stand up slowly and give them all a slow clap. That’s it. Good lad.

Ben Chan

The Designers

Next, let’s showcase some of the performers who danced their asses off during the show.

Russia Dance Segment

L.A. Dancers for the Brazil Segment

China Segment Performer

Next, the models who really did well. You have all made your momma proud. Seriously.

nude models for Africa 2020

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Pinoy Lab Models

Here are some tight photos which I deliberately missed to publish last time. As for the reason, ask me the next time you meet me in person. Maybe, when I’m sane, I’ll give you an answer.

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Mark Manicad

Ron Morales

John Hall

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Iwa Moto

Carl Guevara

Enchong Dee

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Vina Morales

Jiro Shirakawa and Iya Villania

Lastly, here are some variations of the shots I already shared previously.

Andrew Wolfe and Georgina Wilson

Georgina Wilson

Jake Cuenca

Enchong & Gerald

Kim Chiu

Gerald Anderson

Margaret Wilson

Jason & Melai

John Prats, Diether Ocampo, and Coco Martin


Pinoy Lab Collection


It’ll be two years from now until the next denim and underwear show from bench/. I hope this collection lasts you that long. LOL

This second set of photos from bench/ Uncut can be found on my flickr.

Notice: All images in this post are proprietary to the author. This post is not sponsored by either bench/, Panasonic Lumix, their marketing arm, nor affiliates. Should you wish to use them in your own website, do ask permission and link back to If you do not agree with my terms, get the fuck out of here.

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Pictures from the bench/ Uncut Denim & Underwear Show (Part 1)

3 July 2010

Pictures from the bench/ Uncut Denim & Underwear Show (Part 1)

NOTE: The post after this is “Part 2″ of the Photos from the bench/ Uncut Denim & Underwear Show 2010. You might want to head there next. Thanks!

If you have been since last night looking for photos from Uncut, the 5th installment of the biennial denim & underwear show from bench/, then you have come to the right place. The fashion show happened on July 2, 2010 at the Araneta Coliseum. Pardon the quality because I can only take snaps using a point and shoot camera waaaaaaaay up at the Upper Box A area.

This is the cam I used, believe it or not /snooty

This year, the show is all about “gearing towards 2020″ where 5 middle-east trained haute couture designers share their take on five reference countries as their assigned segments. I went to watch thinking I’d see the usual catwalk modeling gig, this being my first to witness a bench/ fashion show. Instead, the audience were treated with a grand visual assault of movement, expertly showcased in the dynamics between the dancers, singers, and models and, with overwhelming precision, they’re thrown into an exquisite mix of props, sound, textures, and patterns, testament that these guys really know what they are doing. The over-the-top accessories did a splendid job in making your eyes wander off and away from the new underwear designs, as did the well known TV and model personalities, but that’s the point of “blowing everyone’s mind out of proportions.” They’re like the fonts in a big, bold signeage that read “local can walk with the giants of couture,” or something like that but more oomphy.

An hour and a half late, the show kicked off with Cory Santiago and Doro Brandino’s collaboration for Pinoy Lab 2020. Furne One follows with Far East (and China). Val Taguba was next with Brazil (South America), then Ezra Santos came out with Africa, and last was Michael Cinco with his take for Russia. The show finished an hour and a half later at around 10 p.m.

I’ve never seen a show that had this much models before. At the very end of bench/ uncut, everybody did the customary runway walk once more, where hundreds of models made it look like nobody went out more than once in several segments. Outrageous, I know. There were just A LOT! Those who modelled include Benjamin Tang, Christian Bautista, Diether Ocampo, Ejay Falcon, Enchong Dee, Francheska Farr, Geoff Taylor, Georgina Wilson, Gerald Anderson, Iya Villana, Jake Cuenca, Jay-R, John Prats, Jon Avila, Karylle, Katrina Halili, Kim Chiu, Rafael Rosell, Rayver Cruz, Regine Angeles, Shaina Magdayao, Zanjoe Marudo, Carla Abellana, Aljur Abrenica, Carl Guevarra, Kris Bernal, Robi Domigo, Sam Pinto, Starstruck V: Steven Silva, Sarah Lahbati, & Rocco Nacino, Ron Morales, Coco Martin, Jome Silayan, Melai Cantiveros, Jason Francisco, and many more.

The photos may have a larger format, moreso for those in landscape, so head to the flickr page by clicking on the pic to see the larger image.

bench Uncut 26

Kim Chiu

Zanjoe Marudo

Robi Domingo


Shaina Magdayao

Gerald Anderson


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bench Uncut 22

bench Uncut 20

bench Uncut 08

Benjamin Tang

Margaret Wilson

Johan Santos

Gerald Anderson

Aljur Abrenica

Rafael Rosell

bench Uncut 17

bench Uncut 03

More pics from bench/ Uncut on my flickr.

Notice: All images in this post are proprietary to the author. This post is not sponsored by either bench/, Panasonic Lumix, their marketing arm, nor affiliates. Should you wish to use them in your own website, do ask permission and link back to If you do not agree with my terms, get the fuck out of here.

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Photos from the Super Junior Super Show 2 Manila Concert

11 April 2010

Photos from the Super Junior Super Show 2 Manila Concert

In this post are 32 photos I took from the Super Junior Super Show 2 Manila (Philippines) Concert held on April 10, 2010 at the Araneta Colosseum. Initially, I thought the Upper Box B spectators will be too far away from the stage.  Far, yes, but not too far.  I saw SuJu together with Faith, Kring, and Jimmy. Good Times.

Before KPop haters, who most probably watch local soaps in earnest (talk about class. LOL), disown me, let it be known that only the 733t has seen the concert considering the 7.5k (VIP), 6.5k (Upper Box A), 4.5k (Upper Box B), and 1k (for Gen Ad) ticket prices. The VIPs got the best deal: front row seats to over 3 hours of adrenaline pumped entertainment. The numbers Super Junior performed were well paced. Videos were played to intermission the next set and give the performers time to prepare and change wardrobe. Despite some numbers being obviously lip synced, and in spite Araneta’s next to horrible acoustics (maybe because of substandard sound equipment or them using low quality audio file, I can’t be absolutely sure), the Korean boy group delivered quality entertainment: a true testament of showmanship. I now understand how they managed to draw so much love from fans throughout Asia. Several of theirs were not present but they flew in 2 other “members” from China (as Kring explained).

My question to the fans: were the fan-service enough and to your liking? A curious term, this “fan service.” I only came across it of late and, up to now, I still can’t fully grasp the concept.

[EDIT] Click here to see the full HD vid of “Sorry, Sorry,” taken from the concert.

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Poblacion Makati Lent 2010

2 April 2010

Poblacion Makati Lent 2010

Resitends near the U-Belt area have so many churches to go to making it a cinch for them to complete visita iglecia, a custom for those of the Catholic faith where they visit 14 churches during the Lenten Season. In Poblacion, Makati, however, people visit elaborate works of art made to house various images of Christ depicting the various stages of his “way to the cross.” (You may see all the 42 photos I took below)

I’m not aware of any contest where the best designed stations win. The residents go all out to come up with these life-sized structures year after year like clockwork. Comparing this year with last year’s setup, I have observed that the statues are the same (as in 2009) for each street. It’s what surrounds it that’s different. Also, there are stations that look “low budget” as there are some that look well financed. You may catch yourself thinking, “oh, this one’s a B-Movie… but that other one’s definitely a James Cameron/Michael Bay.” LOL

If I recall correctly, come Sunday, all these shall already be taken down. If you’ve nothing to do on Holy Friday, take your cue from the hundreds of photographers I saw a while ago, go to Poblacion (Makati), and marvel at these, IRL, yourself. People from northern Metro Manila may make their way on a pilgrimage towards Antipolo but people in Makati choose to conveniently crowd the Poblacion residential streets (causing JP Rizal to become two-way during the day time). Instead of praying, why is it that I’ve witnessed hundreds of camwhores striking poses beside their suffering God again? *click* Am I missing something here? *click*

On Holy Friday, there will be a procession at around 6PM. Either stay out of Poblacion or stay in it for the highlight of their Lenten celebration.

Get the flash player here:

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