Saturday, July 28, 2007

One Hot Day of Fun! (Part 1 of 3)

Trying to sleep was a futile effort. In my mind, hundreds of images of the past festival ran around like cats and dogs chasing each other. Good thing there was Bubble Gang to divert my attention to. After the TV show, a short nap and it was already time to roll.

1:00 AM. Abby and I got our packed things in the cars. Kuya Rey Nocum called to say he couldn't make it because of a family medical emergency. But he said he would keep in touch with the group because of the IDs to the special access areas. We were saddened but at least we still have the other guys to go with us. We had the cars gas tanks filled then called Eric Fernandez (known in Flickr as Erxkulotz), who was already on his way to the meeting place, the 7-Eleven store at the EDSA Grand Central Pavillion building, same place we were to pick up Eric Espenida (k.i.f. Ryuji23).

1:30 AM. At the Pavillion, it didn't seem to be wee hours because the mall lights were still on and many people are around, walking and talking. We parked by the 7-Eleven store, got ourselves something to eat, and waited for Eric and Ryuji. Ryuji came with a stranger. He introduced her to us as "Andrea." As she looked fine, I thought our problem with model shoot at the festival was solved! Eric arrived and around 2:00 AM we left EDSA Central.

2:00 AM. We fetched two Dennises (I already had two Erics on onboard! Haha) at the Munoz Market crossing--Dennis Tanay and Dennis Dayao (we called him by his Flickr alias, "Tuklaw!", to differentiate from Tanay). We already met Dennis T. at the Ecopark photo event but Tuklaw is completely unknown to us. He looked gaunt and at first I thought he had short hair; but then he seated on the front passenger seat and I saw his pony-tailed long hair. Thus, we hit the NLEX, dropped by Petron Jollibee, then began navigating the longest stretch to the Angeles exit, chatting the whole length of the tollway.

3:00 AM. We were lost! We exited via the Angeles access road and crossed over to the left side via the overpass. We missed the right turn to the Festival field and came to the bridge going to Porac! We Asked for directions, and backtracked and was at Clark Field at around 4:00 AM.

4:00 AM. I immediately noticed the big difference in setup from last year. The carpark was more organized, fenced-in by, albeit, flimsy sticks and straw cords. It was guarded unlike last year where the parking was just beside the way. The entrance to the Field was now elaborate and the fence higher than the previous year. We parked in the cold and dust of the dawn and tried to catch on some sleep. From the driver's seat I could see some festival goers arriving early. Some were taking souvenir photos by the gate. The big tree before the gate was lit by the spot lights from the gate fence, creating a dramatic effect.

"We can put Andrea on that branch up there and shoot her now," I joked.

The sight beckoned the shutterbug in me and then I was restless until I took a photo of it. I took out my cam and got some pre-sunrise shots.

5:00 AM. All sleep fled and we were in the line going inside the Field. The Fuji-YKL booth was already swarmed by photogs clamoring for IDs to the special access area and enlisting for the photo contest. Kuya Ronnie Ragonton (k.i.f. Ronrag) came and joined the group. We also met Docbertus with his brother. Richard Santillan was also present.

We got to the front of the line but when we asked for our IDs, we were turned down. "We give preference to those clubs accredited by the FPPFI," explained the booth attendant. "You would have to wait until they claim theirs. If there's any more left, I can give them to your club."

6:00 AM. We were disappointed. Kuya Rey confirmed the availability of the IDs. I sent him a text message. Thankfully he was still awake. He promised to call the booth administrator to whom he submitted our formal request. We tried again but was rebuffed once more by the attendant. Downcast, we took our position at the fence of the special access area, where the balloons were being wheeled around the area to their designated spots. We situated ourselves at the fence on the runway were we have a good vantage view of the mountain beyond. Balloon pilots and their attendants were fleeting everywhere with vans and trucks hauling burners and and baskets. In our frustration about the IDs, we yelled at photogs who blocked what remaining views of the flight preparations that was dealt to us.

Then, I got a call from Kuya Rey instructing us to get our special access IDs. Our enthusiasm thus rekindled, we hurried to the Fuji-YKL booth where we found the last 6 IDs! We put them on and running towards the balloon launch area, we started shooting at balloons already rising like giants waking up to the heat of the morning sun.

Once in, we were each to his own! From the hangar I readied my camera and flash and off I was, shooting as I go, lying on my back to get an upward shot, unmindful of the trampling I could get from the other photogs and attendants, as well as pilots and passengers. In 30 minutes, almost all balloons have taken off. -- End of Part 1. The following are part 1 photos. To see all FPC Hot Air Balloon Fest photos, click this: FPC Hot Air Balloon

[rarerimages] 11th PIHABF, Swarmed Gearing UP horizon dallab PERFECT LANDING [rarerimages] 11th PIHABF, Pump It Up! Balloons hotair balloon fiesta balloon 04 [rarerimages] 11th PIHABF, Fly Me to the Moon! EARLY MORNING STROLL [rarerimages] 11th PIHABF, Never Never Fly Plunge [rarerimages] 11th PIHABF, Bare Necessities hotair balloon fiesta BUDDIES [rarerimages] 11th PIHABF, Child of the Festival Balloons horizon [rarerimages] 11th PIHABF, Childhood Dream MARCH [rarerimages] 11th PIHABF, Covered Mediaman FALL IN LINE [rarerimages] 11th PIHABF, No Way to Fly TOUCHDOWN [rarerimages] 11th PIHABF, Going Tongue-where?

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