Monday, February 12, 2007

Night glow

Part 4

After a short post-lunch nap, we returned to the airfield for the final hurrah, the Night Glow. Again, as newbies, we were not sure what to expect. We had this impression that the balloons would do a return flight at night, landing like opera divas back on the field, fighting for prime space, then turn on some go-go lights in a trance like display. A far more prosaic ending awaited us.

We got back to find the audience area packed with revelers, smart enough to bring portable chairs or blankets to relax on. We stood with others not as organized, shifting from foot to foot, looking around, people watching, wondering why we had not brought insect repellent (really good idea to bring sunblock during the day, wet wipes, and insect repellent if you plan to do this show next year. Bring a portable chair if you don’t want to stand all day long.) – thank goodness for bats, who flew out from their batcaves to nibble on the tasty bugs annoying us. They probably gorged themselves silly, tasting human blood via the mozzies who had sucked on our arms, necks and faces when they got a chance. The food cycle in motion.

The field was relatively empty, the sky was spotted with a number of kites flown by young and old. We looked up waiting for the balloons to show. The announcer then boomed out that we were going to have a last minute display from the parachuters of the navy (I think it was the navy!), 11 of them jumped from a plane at around 6000 feet, gliding in, solo and in pairs. That kept our mind and eyes off the field and when we started paying attention, the balloons were there, deflated and unrolled. What were they doing, we wondered. It all became clear when they started inflating them again and we realized they were not going to fly off but remain tethered to the field, during the Night Glow show. After another half hour of waiting, the balloons stood stark on display, the announcer called out the start of the show, and disco music started playing. They turned on the braziers to light up the balloons, synchronized to the beat of the music. The show got better as the night grew darker. For 15 minutes, it was a lightly pleasant way of being a child again.

Surprisingly, the drive home was not as congested as we had expected and we returned to Manila very sleepy, but very content. I may not go back to the festival next year, but it’s a perfectly good experience, especially for kids and flying enthusiasts. One aspect that the organizers and the local tourism bureau should work out is encouraging the Angeles City retail stores and restaurants to take part in the program. We found that several of the stores and restaurants didn’t have a clue about the festival, and the restaurants were finding themselves packed without preparation for a larger crowd. There are so many ways to make it work, and give the city a boost. Angeles is a city of diversity and varying reputations, this should be one reason to go and experience its hospitality.

1 comment:

christine said...

I really enjoyed reading your detailed account of the hot-air balloon event. I was looking forward to this since this would have been the 2nd time I'm missing it. I can't wait to take the kids there next year, I know they'd love it. And if they didn't, well we'd have all the space in the world to fly the kites in. :)

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