CLARK FIELD, Pampanga--Aside from the grand spectacle of seeing gigantic floating balloons dotting the sky, this year's Hot Air Balloon Fiesta also aims to promote aviation as a career. Twenty-five hot air balloons of different shapes and sizes took off this morning here for the opening of this four-day event. These balloons were flown into the country by cargo firm UPS from participant countries including Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, France, United States of America, United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, Netherlands and Malaysia. Touted as the country's biggest aviation event, the event also includes skydiving, paragliding and kite-flying exhibitions by military and privately-run flying clubs. Held yearly here at the former American air base, this year's event is expected to better last year in terms of the number of visitors. According to event organizers, last year's event drew in some 55,000 visitors. "From the looks of it we'll probably double that this year or add at least 20,000 more visitors," said Joy Roa, event director of the 4th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. The opening day also saw a lot of students who came in at sunrise to witness balloons take off amidst the clear weather condition here. In an interview with INQUIRER.net, Roa said this year's event include numerous activities lined up for young people to learn more about aviation. "All the (flying) schools are here giving lectures on how to start a career in aviation whether being a mechanic or air traffic controller, a pilot or even a flight attendant," he said. Tourists can ride a hot air balloon for $150 or about P 7,000. Free rides are also accommodated but on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Roa. The event, which runs until the weekend, charges an entrance fee of P100 per person.
Recently in Videos Category
IT was when I was around 14 years old I remember buying my first Swatch. I saved enough from my allowance along with discount coupons cut out from newspapers at that time. The only place I know where to buy one was in SM North in Quezon City--specifically in the Annex area because I've seen a Swatch store when our teachers took us there during a class field trip to Manila. A field trip then wouldn't be complete without a visit to an SM mall. I never went to Manila on my own before then, but in previous trips (by car or bus) I've always figured out that once you've seen it you know you're already in Manila. And so I skipped class one morning and instead hopped on a bus bound for Cubao, told the conductor to drop me off at SM North, hopped on the bus a few hours after and was back in Tarlac in time to show off my brand-spanking new Swatch to high school buddies who may have thought I was sick that day. For people coming from the Northern provinces, it was then the first SM you can find as you enter the city--until SM began expanding in the provinces. In fact, SM Tarlac is set to open this year. Through the years, SM North has largely overshadowed by more recent developments like SM Megamall and SM Mall of Asia. But with head-to-head competition from Ayala's Trinoma, SM North has undergone major re-development. The renovated SM North Annex was opened to the public in time for the holidays last December. Now the whole of SM North is being billed as SM's largest by far with a total area of more than 425,000 square meters, making it the third-largest mall in the world and of course, the biggest yet in the country, according to SM executives I interviewed during a recent visit to the new six-storey Annex. It's definitely a lot different from the place where I bought my first Swatch. Or the one place I remember was my favorite to go see a late-night movie (especially the not-so-popular ones) during my college years in nearby UP Diliman. Here's a video I took when I was given a brief tour of the ongoing developments at SM North.
Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net HOW lucky are you in the year of the Ox? Being born under a different sign, I decided to visit this store in Binondo called Charm General Merchandise to get some answers. Lucky for me, store owner Maxima Tiu was kind enough to explain the lucky charms for this year. “Ox symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. People under this sign are born leaders and have the ability to achieve great things,” says Tiu. She says people who born in the year of the Ox are compatible with those born under the sign of the snake, rabbit and rooster. But she says that Ox people should avoid those born under the sheep sign. But whether or not you were born in the year of the Ox, Tiu suggests other lucky charms like chimes that can bring good luck. Displaying an Ox figurine at home or work also brings good luck. Tiu says there is really no such thing as the “best lucky charm” for anyone. But she says we should not rely on luck in achieving success in life. As the Ox symbolizes hard work, people should also work hard to find prosperity. And it is through sheer Ox-like determination that we achieve success. Watch my video interview with her to get yourself acquainted with lucky charms.
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net THE streets of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas at the Makati Central Business District (CBD) burst into a sea of colors during the 2009 Caracol festival on January 17. Hundreds of students from Makati City schools and university clad in nature-inspired costumes joined the Caracol parade, which started at about 4 p.m. and the competition at around 5:30 p.m. Like in 2005, the students convened at the Gabriela Silang carpark on Ayala and Makati avenues at 3 p.m. The event is instrumental in making Makati a tourist spot and promoting the city’s advocacy for environment conservation, according to Mayor Jejomar Binay. “Every year we get prouder because the presentations are great and this is a significant part of the city. It promotes environmental awareness and conservation of land, sea and air,” adds Binay. Caracol is Makati’s own adaptation of the Mardi Gras. But it focuses on the preservation of the cultural heritage and conservation of the environment, according to the city’s Museum and Cultural Office. While the idea for event came about in1986, the first annual parade was held in 1989. For this year, a total of P455,000 was given to winning schools at the Caracol festival. Winners of the student performance competition received P50,000 for first prize, P45,000 for second prize and P40,000 for third prize, in the elementary, secondary and tertiary categories. An additional of P50,000 was given to the overall champion. All winners received a trophy. Gen. Pio del Pilar National High School topped the student competition and bagged P100,000 at this year’s Caracol festival. The school won both first place in the high school category and best in costume special award, making them the overall champion among 19 participating public schools. The Makati 4 group of Maximo Estrella, J. Magsaysay, N. Garcia, and F. Benitez elementary schools won first place in the elementary category. The group also won a special award, best in choreography. It was followed by Guadalupe Viejo Elementary School and Gen. Pio del Pilar Elementary School at second and third place. For the high school category, Benigno Aquino High School ranked second and Ft. Bonifacio High School placed third. In the tertiary level, the Angel Fish group won first place, followed by the Flying Gurnard group at second and the dolphin group at third. All groups were from the University of Makati. Brian O’neal, a tourist from New Zealand, says he has never seen a lively, colorful event such as the Caracol. “This has really been a fantastic thing to see. Many groups of people in different colors and lots of music. I have lived in Vietnam and I have never seen anything that can match this,” says O’neal during the event.
By Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net HOW can you sell a “sustainable lifestyle” and help save the environment? Answer: Echostore. Founded by Reena Francisco of the Figaro Foundation, Jeannie Javelosa--writer-artist and Board of Trustee Member of the Yuchengco Museum, and Chit Juan, co-chair of the Philippine Coffee Board, Echostore offers products that are proudly Philippine made. Echostore offers green products from “Malunggay” pesto to biodegradable detergents. During my interview with Juan, she confesses it is a challenge putting up a store that sells green products. So far, however, they have received an overwhelming response. “We are espousing a sustainable lifestyle,” Juan said. Echostore, however, goes beyond selling green products. To budding entrepreneurs, the store hopes to be a venue of showcasing locally made products. The store is open to offering products made by prisoners from the Correctional Institute of Women and the Gawad Kalinga beneficiaries. “We felt that our knowledge in marketing can really help this people,” Juan said. The Echostore also prefers “Gawang pinoy,” or Philippine-made products. Juan said the country has a host of green products that needs to be marketed. “What we are doing is empowering the Filipino small businesses and women,” Juan stressed. Before our conversation ended, Juan shared three key points to consider when putting up a business: 1. Business profit or the monetary profit 2. Social profit (Ask yourself if you are helping others in your business?) 3. And environmental profit (Are you sustaining the environment as you make your products?) “As long as you consider the two key points and not the business profit alone, you are on the right track,” Juan said. “You may get good value for money but I believe people come back here not because it is cheap but because of the quality of the products. Not only that you are pleasing yourself, you are also pleasing the environment,” she said.
IT was like seeing an army of ants climbing up a colony – only imagine it to be chaotic, more than a few stepping on heads and shoulders in order to touch a moving target. In a predominantly Catholic country, religious festivities such as this are commonplace but the Feast of the Black Nazarene definitely stands out in terms of scale. This year's estimates put the number of attendees by the millions. During this day, the image of the Black Nazarene is paraded from Quiapo Church around Manila's city streets and back. This year, though, the mass was held instead at the Quirino Grandstand (fronting Luneta or Rizal Park), followed by a procession leading to Quiapo Church. Dressed in maroon and carrying white towels, hankies and other pieces of clothing, devotees started converging by the thousands during the mass. Of course, any large gathering – religious or not – is bound to attract commerce. I saw vendors silk-screening T-shirts with image of Jesus Christ right there in the grandstand. What followed afterwards was literally a Black Nazarene showcase – a parade of replicas big and small owned by different parishes and devotees themselves. I've never seen so many statues of Christ before. The bigger replicas were atop carriages. Wiping towels or any piece of clothing on the image of Christ is believed by devotees to carry blessings and makes one's wishes come true. Me and my colleagues Majo and Izah -- shown here with her beloved SLR camera "Rash") -- had a great of view of the procession from the second floor balcony of the City College of Manila campus. At the end of procession is the "real" Black Nazarene, a centuries-old statue brought from Spain to the country. The image is said to have survived a fire and from then on, it was believed by devotees to be miraculous. This sort of explains why devotees are willing to risk life and limb just to get near it. On our way to Quiapo, we asked a few people how they became devotees of the Black Nazarene. This video also shows clips we shot from where we were positioned, marveling at the great spectacle that was the Black Nazarene mob.
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net IS it possible to find in the Philippines a church like Vatican's Sistine Chapel? Yes. In the town of Guagua in Pampanga, one can find Betis Church. Inside the Baroque-inspired church, one can be transported back in time by the ceiling paintings and wall murals that are comparable to the frescos of Sistine Chapel's ceiling done by Renaissance masters. Standing at the nave of the church, one can see the ceilings, walls and the retablo styled with paintings and murals of the Holy Family, selected scenes from the bible, Catholic saints and cherubs. According to oral tradition, Betis used to be a town before it was merged with other sitios now foming Guagua. Betis was named after a huge tree Bassia betis merr. In the article "The Town of Betis: Woodcarving Its Place in Art and History" published in the University of the East (UE) school publication "UE Today" by Ruston Banal Jr., it cited a townsfolk myth about the huge tree. According to early townsfolk, there was a betis tree that stood in the middle of the town long ago -- the tree was huge that it could cover seven barrios today. The Baroque-inspired church of Betis was built in 1660, with construction headed by Father Jose de la Cruz. According to materials at the Betis Church museum (Museo Ning Betis), the preliminary structure was composed of wooden materials. But fire broke inside the church several times and it was rebuilt using concrete materials in 1770. Beautification of the interior of the Betis Church was extensively done in 1939 under the last Spanish friar Father Santiago Blanco. Native painter Macario Ligon was later commissioned to paint the ceiling of the church. Later in 1970s, Ligon's assistant and nephew Victor Ramos restored 80 percent of the ceiling and mural paintings. According to Betis museum records and “The Legacy of Betis” website, Ramos was apprentice of Ligon when he painted the interior of the church. A closer look at the wall paintings of Ramos at the Betis Church gives the idea that the paintings were done with depth similar to that of a sculpture. This was evident because Ramos worked with postwar sculptor Maximo Vicente as apprentice and later he worked at Mabini and Hidalgo Streets in Quiapo as encarnador or painter of skin of rebultos. There is an interesting side story to this: the paintings of Ramos were often mistaken for Simon Flores originals by contemporary writers. Two paintings of the Holy Family displayed near the window of the Betis Church refectory were said to have been done by Simon Flores but this has not been proven. Historians say it was done by a Flores apprentice very familiar to his art style. Another native of Betis, Flores was credited for nurturing local talents and imparting his skills in sculpture. In his younger days, he trained under masters Maximo Vicente, Isabelo Tampingco and Eulogio Garcia, according to literature at the Betis Museum. Flores was also credited for nurturing artists in the town of Betis. Looking at the intricate designs of the interior of the church can make one feel great appreciation for Betisenos Flores, Ligon and Ramos. Words are not enough to detail the magnificence of their work and their style comparable to frescos in the Sistine Chapel. Cliché as it sounds, you have to be there to experience their art. As I took a final look at the paintings, I cannot help but feel thankful to the artists and Betisenos for their efforts to restore the church's interior paintings. Thanks to them, we have our own version of Sistine Chapel in Betis, Pampanga.
FILIPINO celebrity kids Paul Salas, Jane Oineza, Eliza Pineda, Kristel Fulgar and Micah Torre pick their favorite dinosaur and talk about lessons they learned from the Dinos Alive World Tour currently open to visitors at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, Philippines. Watch this video report of INQUIRER.net multimedia reporter Izah Morales.
By Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net SERVING ham especially during the holiday season will surely make your family smile. But after the celebration, you often have ham leftovers. Don’t fret. Chef Ricky Cordova of the American Hospitality Academy shows how you can transform that ham leftover into a soup with your favorite monggo. First, prepare these ingredients: 150g monggo beans 45g butter 30g finely diced onion 15g finely diced garlic 30g finely diced tomatoes 1 pc whole tomato (for garnish) 100g Left over ham 500ml chicken stock Salt Pepper cheddar cheese (grated) pinch of chili flakes Here are the steps to preparing it: 1. In a pot, sear your finely diced ham until crispy. Set aside half quantity. 2. Add and sweat your onions, garlic, and tomatoes with a little butter. 3. Add the monggo beans and quickly add your chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until beans are tender. 4. Plate in a soup bowl. Garnish with sprinkled grated cheese, chili flakes, rosette tomatoes and the ham. But remember: do not overcook the monggo beans so as not to make it mushy. Now, you can serve ham with additional flavor and touch of Filipino taste with the monggo bean factor. Enjoy!
THE Filipinos’ festive celebration of Christmas begins as early as September. No wonder the Philippines has been known as the country with the longest celebration of Christmas. Filipinos would decorate their homes with garlands, Christmas lights, belen and the Parol or the lantern – which are symbols that represent the spirit of Christmas The Parol, for instance, is a symbol of the guiding light which wise men followed during their journey to find Jesus Christ. But symbols go hand in hand with traditions that people practice. Christmas is not complete without the caroling, Simbang Gabi, Noche Buena, and the “Mano Po Ninong at Ninang.” Truly, Filipinos celebrate Christmas like no other. INQUIRER.net VDO presents these Christmas messages. May the true spirit of Christmas be etched in your hearts.