Philippines in 3 Weeks (Part 3 of 5)

I have been working on this video for about two weeks.  Not that I was struggling with how to do it but more because I couldn’t get enough time to finish it.  I’m a stickler to details and a very OC (obsessive-compulsive) person when it comes to things like this.  Everything has to be “perfect” (as per my standards, of course). Thus, the delay.

When hubbie and I were in the Philippines, my youngest sister and her family also came in from Calgary.  They attended the wedding of my brother-in-law’s sister.  Naturally, I was so excited to come home to Manila from our stint in the Visayas to see them and got so thrilled to find out that my niece and older nephew came with my brother to pick us up at the airport.  My niece was still jet-lagged so on the drive home she just snuggled beside me and dozed the whole way back. Cool air conditioning and the low engine hum does that, guaranteed.

We had been planning on where to go when we see each other in Manila.  We thought of Tagaytay, and a beach in Batangas – somewhere where the 3 kids will enjoy the trip. But to do that, we would want to stay overnight, which our rented van wouldn’t be able to do.  Luckily my brother saw an ad on Facebook for a Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark, Pampanga.  So we decided, might as well do a day trip to Pampanga.

We woke up at 3am to be on the road by 4.  We’re expecting a trip that would take 2 and a half hours to do, give or take the traffic and a quick breakfast somewhere along NLEX.  As soon as the sun starts to rise we’ll be at the Clark Freeport Zone waiting for the balloons to take flight.

My niece enjoying her first taste of real coconut juice.

I won’t try to describe the whole trip, the video would surely take you there.  Altho I’d like to note, the places we went to were not the best and newest places in Clark.  But considering we don’t get to see each other that often anymore – once or twice every two years, if we’re lucky, we had so much fun and at one point one of our destinations even took us back to a fond memory for my brother:

My brother, the actor, was one of the lead stars of the show “Home Along Da Riles” lead by the King of Philippine Comedy, Dolphy.  Fontana Resort in Pampanga was new then and the show’s whole production staff shot about 2 episodes in that location. It was one of the “in” places to go to back then in Pampanga.  There were a dozen different pools all around the resort.  It used to be packed with people on the weekends and in summer.

Probably because so many other new places have cropped up around Manila in the more recent years, the resort couldn’t compete with those places anymore. The resort is not how it was then – some of the pools are closed and it sure needs a new dose of paint and some pool rehab.  But they’ve maintained the cleanliness of the place and for us, it was fun to see the kids enjoy themselves in the water.  As for my brother, the place brought back some well-treasured memories with “Tatay Dolphs”. The Comedy King is still a big part of him who he still misses every now and then.

For all of us, it was a day of being grateful that we had this time to be together.  The places we went to were really nothing new but we had fun. The hot air balloonfest was just how it is here in Maryland during Preakness – colorful and fun to watch. The animals in Zoocobia (albeit looking tired and old) was something the kids still enjoyed upclose.  And a swim in the Fontana pool was always welcoming to beat the Philippine heat.

The one other thing we enjoyed during the trip was the restaurants we went to.  We’re all addicted to good food and that was one of the best features of the trip – exquisite taste of Pampanga at Matam-ih Authentic Kapampangan Cuisine at Clark Free Port Zone for lunch and some mouth-watering all-you-can-eat Samgyeopsal in Hado Restaurant in Angeles City for dinner.   (Too bad I wasn’t able to take some photos of the restaurants and glorious food we had – I was trying to charge my phone while we were having lunch.)

So here it is.  Hope the video could convey the fun time we had.   Now I’m missing them all so much…

MMMM BOP Day from gigi refugia on Vimeo.


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