Saturday, February 27, 2010

Asia 360 - 15th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Festival (1/3)

It was a little more than an hour’s worth of drive from Manila. The freeways once again befitted being called as such for traffic was, as expected, very light during those wee hours of the night. The destination was Clark, Pampanga, a former US Air base that now boasts of an international airport and a free port zone. The occasion: the 15th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

We got there before 5 a.m., way before the balloonists started setting up. Already the place was packed and a feeling of excitement seemed to abound in the air. Eager photography enthusiasts had already chosen their spots and erected their tripods behind the fence bordering the open field. People lined up behind food counters to buy breakfast. People had assembled near the gates in the hopes of getting out into the field, where all the action would later take place.

We ordered hotdogs ourselves and waited for a few minutes before heading into the open field just as pick-up trucks and jeeps arrived with their huge baskets in tow.

The balloonists clearly follow a process in setting up their balloons. We'd say watching them get ready is as exciting as watching the balloons go up in the air. Here's the sequence we've observed:
  • the envelope is spread out in the field

  • a fan is used to fill the envelope with air

  • the basket is laid down on one side and is attached to the envelope

  • the burners are attached

  • the envelopes are hooked up to the basket

  • the burners are ignited and the air inside the enveloped is gradually warmed up

  • finally, the basket is turned upright.
After that, the basket is ready to be loaded with passengers. Then, the countdown to takeoff begins!

More photos in the next entries.

To be continued...


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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Asia 360 - Philippine Jeepneys

When visiting the Philippines, if you venture around, one of the things that would surely arouse your interest is the jeepney — it's the most popular means of public transportation in the country.

Wikipedia has a good entry about jeepneys, but here's a unique way of describing it, from
...the Philippine jeepney [is] a symbol of Filipino ingenuity. The jeepney is a small mini-bus, a public transport vehicle used throughout the Philippines. It started out as a modification of the American Jeep, of which plenty were available after World War II. The jeepney is a public utility vehicle, moving people and goods who cannot afford to buy their own vehicle. Although it is not as fuel-efficient as a bus, it is capable of plying routes that are too short, with roads too narrow, or too lightly-trafficked for buses to be practical. It is the best possible middle ground between a car and a bus.
I took the photo above somewhere in Binangonan, Rizal, which is about 1-2 hours away (depending on traffic) from Manila, the nation's capital. Men hitching on the backside is not uncommon. I've counted as many as ten people hitching, without people sitting on top, which is sometimes done too. It's just too bad I wasn't able to take a picture.


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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Asia 360 - We Are Now Furnished

"Dare to compare. We are now furnished. Inquire here to avail of our limited promo."

It wasn't me who first took notice but I was the one with a camera in hand.

This photo was taken in Quezon City, Philippines, from the parking lot of SM North Edsa Mall, one of the largest malls in Asia.

I am guessing that maybe only the lower floors are already furnished.


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Monday, February 22, 2010

Asia 360 - No Dumping Of Garbage

"Strictly no dumping of garbage. Penalty fine and imprisonment."

This photo was taken in Marikina City, beside the Marikina River in the Philippines, which overflowed during the onslaught of Typhoon Ketsana (named as Typoon Ondoy by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), one of the tropical depressions that wreaked the most havoc in the country. Garbage that was dug out of the river was dumped on the banks and obviously remains there up to now.

The heap of trash is also just few meters away from a major mall in the city, beside the road that links the major highway to the parking entrance.

Scavengers, young and old, can be found sifting through the golden pile during the day.


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