Wouldn’t you like to ride in my beautiful Balloon? High up in the sky, hot air balloons were rising, and children of all ages were happily watching and having fun, and of course, eating…

Last week, Pampanga’s skies were filled with hot air balloons ..and airplanes, and ultralights and kitesLINK2…

SweetDreamBlog and Edong’s Photoblog have photos from this year.

A lot of Americans are familiar with Clark Air Force base, either because they served there. Others might know Pampanga as the area where Mt. Pinatubo blew up and devestated with ash and lahar.

Well, shortly before Pinatubo erupted, local politics pressured the Americans to leave the Philippines, since having US bases made Pinoys feel like children who still needed a US Nanny. Bad timing, since the volcano’s eruption in June coincided with the USAF’s planned departure in the following November.

So there you had a huge base, infrastructure and runways intact albeit covered with ash, and no US Air Force. And with the evacuation of the USAF, so also left a lot of local jobs.

The Eleventh Annual Hot Air Festival was started by local enthusiasts after Pinatubo wrecked Pampanga, as a means to attract tourists and jump start the economy of the area.

Well, fifteen years later, with globalization, we are seeing the Clark economic zone being touted for businesses and as a tourist area, with hotels and resorts.

The government has invested in the infrastructure including building a new expressway from there to Manila, and tax breaks.
Yes, there are no beaches in that area of Pampanga, but it’s warm, it’s cheap, and it is no longer isolated: the new expressway will take you to Manila in one hour (HA…that’s if there is no traffic) the beaches are not far away, and local flights will take you to other areas quite quickly and cheaply.

So if you are under a foot of snow in Pusan (or under six feet of snow in Buffalo), come to friendly Central Luzon and warm up.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living with her husband, six dogs, three cats, two roosters, and a large extended family about fifty miles from Clark. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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