Thursday, very early in the morning, found me stumbling around in an unfamiliar room, getting ready for the day while trying to shake away the last traces of sleep. It was the first day of the 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, and it’s one event you wouldn’t want to be late for.
I was lucky that I still managed to get some sleep, as Caltex, our host for this trip, billeted us at the Hotel Vida in Clark, so we can be at the venue before the crack of dawn. It was still dark when we pulled up to the field, but the traffic was starting to build and the parking lot was quickly filling up. Though there are activities almost every hour for the next four days, the highlight was the flight of the hot air balloons.
Watching these huge balloons inflate and take flight are worth sacrificing a couple of hour’s sleep. Hot air balloons are not a common sight in the Philippines, and seeing them just once a year brings wonder and joy, even to those just watching from the ground.
Caltex has been supporting the hot air balloon fiesta for years. On the eve of the first day, they launched the online game Captain Bubbly’s Enjoyable Journey, that lets players “fly” a balloon through the Philippines. Players earn points at each stage, which they can donate to a chosen charity: Project Seahorse Foundation (PSF) for environment, Smokey Mountain Team for sports and Hospicio de San Jose (HSJ) for education.
“We have been a partner of PIHABF for the longest time as Caltex’ way of supporting tourism in the country. This year, we wanted to leverage the hot air balloon festival to draw attention to non-profits that significantly help people lead better lives and reach their dreams. This air show is the perfect occasion to let dreams soar and Caltex is proud to be associated with the Philippine hot air balloon fiesta as it draws enormous attention to the country’s tourism industry.”
— Veronica Pangilinan, CPI Caltex Brand Manager
To play the game, just Like the Caltex Philippines page on Facebook, and then click on the Captain Bubbly tab. Full game and donation mechanics can be viewed here.