There is something about hot air balloons that fascinate me. It’s the idea of traveling high above, standing on a giant basket, with only the hot air propelling the balloon across the sky, giving you a bird’s eye view. I’m scared of heights, mind you, but flying in a hot air balloon is definitely on my list. So on a weekend of everything that flies, we went on a roadtrip to Pampanga.
20th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
We hardly slept the night before just to be at the venue early in anticipation for the queue. I went with fellow bloggers, Potpot of Travel Trilogy, Marge of Coffeehan and Cai of Travelosyo. It was Valentine’s Day and a weekend, so for sure it will be a hit among couples, families and friends alike.
When we got there, the queue was already at the parking lot, a kilometer or two from the entrance. The lines were disorganized and the cold breeze wasn’t helping. We were doubting if we were ever going to make it inside before sunrise. But luck was on our side and we were able to secure a spot right by the fence before the field.
They were already inflating the balloons up and within a few minutes, the program started. The faint lines of Arayat’s peak was visible in the horizon. As the national anthem was playing, skydivers slowly came down from the sky bringing with them the Philippine Flag. After another exhibition, the participants of the 20th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta rose from the ground one by one. As the hot air filled them up, it was slowly unraveled what the balloons really looked like. Like little kids, we were amazed at the balloons that didn’t look like traditional hot air balloons. There was a little devil, a clown, a castle, a green funny looking creature, a baby dinosaur coming out of its egg, crocodile, straw man, a boy and a girl. One by one they floated high up in the air and floated where the wind took them. We watched them for a while until they have become little dots on the horizon.
VIEW THE HOT AIR BALLOON PHOTOS BY CLICKING ON THE LEFT AND RIGHT SIDE OF THE PICTURE ABOVE. 🙂
Lunch at Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy
Starving, we walked to the nearby mall to see where we can eat. When it was clear that every restaurant was full, we decided to go to try something popular in the province. And that’s how we ended up at Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy.
It started as a sari-sari store that turned into an eatery in 1986. Their signature dish is of course Tokwa’t Baboy, the recipe of which came from a relative of Milagros Gomez, whom the restaurant was named after.
Based on our quick internet search, Mila’s famous dishes are Sizzling Sisig (Php 200), Chicharong Bulaklak (Php 200) and Paco Salad (Php 150). We ordered all that plus a serving of rice for each person. I’ve read that their version of sisig is made by first boiling the pork meat then deep-fried until roasted. Their version is surely different from others I have tasted. The meat is crunchy and dry, which I liked better than the ones now served in the metro. I liked the Paco Salad which was made of ferns, tomatoes, onions, salted egg, and vinaigrette. It was fresh and worth it for its price.
The food was good but the service was disappointing. They were clearly understaffed that day as there were too many tables that took a long time before it was cleaned up, ours included. We practically had to beg a few times just for a staff to take our order. Based from the influx of people coming in, it is quite famous. They even have a wall showing the famous personalities who have dined in Mila’s. Aside from the service needing improvement, I also was surprised to see the cleanliness and condition of the dining area. Layers of dust have accumulated in the fake plants they have in the corner as well as the old signage and other areas around the dining area.
The food was good but the service was disappointing. They were clearly understaffed that day as there were too many tables that took a long time before it was cleaned up, ours included. We practically had to beg a few times just for a staff to take our order. Based on the influx of people coming in, it is quite famous. They even have a wall showing the famous personalities who have dined in Mila’s. Aside from the service needing improvement, I also was surprised to see the cleanliness and condition of the dining area. Layers of dust have accumulated in the fake plants they have in the corner as well as the old signage and other areas around the dining area.
Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy
San Andres st., San Angelo Subd., Brgy. Sto. Domingo, Angeles City Pampanga
Opening Hours: 07:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Siesta at Bacolor Church
After lunch, we stopped by an old church along the way. Bacolor Church or San Guillermo Parish Church was named after the town’s Patron Saint. It was originally constructed by the Augustinian Friars in 1576 but was later destroyed due to an earthquake on 1645. On September 1995, lahar flow from the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo which erupted in 1991 buried the church at half its height. Inside, the ceiling beams are now made of wood and around the church, one can see evidences of the lahar overflow. There is also a museum inside the church that documents its history.
The Original Razon’s Halo-Halo
After a brief nap in the parking lot, we were now ready for our merienda. So we head on to Razon’s for their famous halo-halo. We also tried their puto.
Halo-halo is a shaved ice dessert popular in the Philippines. It is especially popular during the summer months. The origins of this dessert is quite unclear, with some saying that it’s patterned after kakigori, the Japanese shaved ice dessert. It is usually layered with a hodgepodge of ingredients, consisting of a variety of beans, jello, sweetened plantain and jackfruit, strips of young coconut, sugar palm fruit, and purple yam jam. Other variations could have less or more ingredients added in. It is then topped with shaved or crushed ice and evaporated milk. On top is leche flan, pinipig (rice crispies) and/or a scoop of ice cream. Throughout Asia, one could find a variation of this dessert.
What makes Razon’s halo-halo different from others is that it only contains a few ingredients. Sweetened bananas, macapuno, smooth shaved ice, creamy milk and leche flan. Such is the anatomy of a Razon’s Halo-halo. As they say, its beauty lies in its simplicity.
Luz The Original Razon’s Halo-Halo
Have you been to Pampanga? How was your experience?