travel & lifestyle blog by ruth dela cruz

Featured Story | Travel

My First Hot Air Balloon Flying Experience

April 16, 2016
Hot Air Balloon Philippines
hot air balloon lubao pampanga
My First Hot Air Balloon Flying Experience at Lubao International Balloon Festival 2016
The sky has a shade of warm blue that morning but the sight of colorful balloons of different shapes and sizes (depending on how high and far they are from where I was standing) gave a different story of the usual “view from the top”.
I was standing in a wicker basket of one of the 41 hot air balloons in Lubao International Hot Air Balloon Festival 2016. Our balloon is not your usual balloon with colorful design – it is a gigantic Japanese Balloon – the Saga Ebisu. 

Children of the Night: MJ de Leon, Rod Magaru, Ruth dela Cruz, Rodel Flordeliz and Duane Bacon
How I got in and up high in the air is an interesting story. How we got to Lubao at 5:00 in the morning is another story.
When we initially received the invite, we thought that it was just for the usual “viewing”.
It was only after we finished breakfast that we found out that we got VIP Access to fly!
hot air balloon lubao pampanga
My First Hot Air Balloon Flying Experience 
I was torn between excitement and scare.
But since I have mastered the art of faking confidence, I faked it after saying a short prayer.
Funny how we thought we can all go on one balloon and we can take photos together – but that didn’t happen. One wicker basket can only accommodate 3 to 4 pax.
It was a struggle to get inside the wicker basket and much more struggling to stand properly because I was tall and the burner was just on top of my head.
hot air balloon lubao pampanga
As we waited for the perfect timing to fly – my thoughts were filled with:

“what if something bad happens, this whole thing exploded and I would get roasted – what an ugly way to die”“there’s not seatbelt, no parachute – no, nothing. I can only hold on to my dear life”

I chose to put paranoia behind and just thought of a good game plan how to take photos.
The next thing I know – we were already ascending.
It was a different feeling when you see the ground leaving your sight, and everyone was just looking at you. I wanted to wave goodbye but I just thought I would let the camera roll and start recording my feelings.
I was scared. I feel that it is much more scary than sky diving because – seriously, there’s nothing to hold you firmly inside the basket or something to save you when something goes wrong.

Read: My Sky Diving Experience

hot air balloon lubao pampanga
hot air balloon lubao pampanga
hot air balloon lubao pampanga
hot air balloon lubao pampanga
As we ascended further and higher, I started to relax. Once again, I was on top of the world. Okay, I was on top of Lubao, Pampanga.
I would have wanted to ask my Pilot and co-Pilot to take a photo of me but I chose not to bother them with their thing. They were talking as if there’s something wrong with the flight (I wish I knew how to speak Japanese!). The sound of the two-way radio and the beeping sound of the machines in the basket were not helping. At least, the view was calming – and I thought:

This is not in my bucketlist. But here I am again, having experience life. Hashtag blessed. 


The flight took around 30 to 45 minutes.

When it was time to land, we saw some locals waiving at us and I felt like a celebrity. I waved back 🙂
A few times we descended and ascended – probably my Pilot was looking for the perfect spot to land. When they finally found the perfect spot, my Pilot asked me to bend my knees as he pulled the string and we finally landed – safe and sound. It was a smooth hot air balloon landing. I heard that some hot air balloon landings are bad that it can toppled over.
hot air balloon lubao pampanga
hot air balloon lubao pampanga
The Chase Crew then came after to help with folding. I was lucky to be part of such nice Chase Crew. Thank you!!!
If you guys want to experience the same high feeling, the Lubao International Balloon Festival is still on this Saturday and Sunday, April 16 and 17.
Aside from breathtaking hot-air balloon flights and aerial exhibitions, the festival will include fun on-ground entertainment such as street activities, land exhibits, and exciting musical performances by top Filipino artists such as Ely Buendia, Bamboo, True Faith, Sabado Boys and Mitoy&D’Draybers.

I have updated this blog post to share the 2018 Lubao International Hot Air Balloon Activities. Check out below for the schedule of events!

Lubao International Hot Air Balloon 2018 Schedule
Lubao International Hot Air Balloon 2018 Schedule


There’s food fair where you can buy Pampanga’s delicacies and goodies + lots of good spots to take your OOTD’s 🙂
Manila to Lubao: How to Get to Lubao, Pampanga via Commute? 
From Manila, take Victory Liner, Genesis or Five Star (with terminals in Pasay and Cubao) buses heading to Bataan. You can check out ride options via this site. Travel time is 2.5 hours.
If you are driving, make sure that you enter Pradera Wake Park in Waze.
Thank you Rod (for the ride), MJ (for the beautiful photo before the flight), Rodel (for the funny go-rpo stories) and Duane (for keeping my stuff and being so clingy!). It was a beautiful day! 
#LubaoIBF2016 is organized by Lubao International Balloon Festival, Inc. (LIBF) & Forthinker, Inc in cooperation with the Arts, Culture and Tourism Office of Pampanga (ACTO) and with the support from Provincial Government of Pampanga.
Check out or call 470-2222 for tickets or visit for more information. 
Thank you for having us! Such an amazing experience!
hot air balloon lubao pampanga
Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner
If you like this post, click the like button or the Facebook Share button! Spread the love. Like my Facebook Fan Page at or follow my updates on Twitter @ruthilicious.
If you are reading this post somewhere, it is originally written by Ruth and published in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *