China joins Clark balloon fest for the first time

MANILA — A delegation from China joined the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF) in Clark, Pampanga for the first time on Thursday since it was established 20 years ago.

Aside from China, there were 11 other countries with aviation and adventure sports performers, enthusiasts and rallying spectators who came to visit the opening of the four-day festivity that has attracted thousands of hobbyists from across the globe.

Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro, guest of honor, welcomed visitors and invited them to bring their friends and families to celebrate what she described as a great weekend.

“The event has served not only as a fascinating air show but also as a showcase of genuine Filipino hospitality, where we make our guests feel at home with family,” De Castro said.

She has attended the yearly event since she was 15 years old.

The tourism official said that Clark was the perfect venue for the festival as it had “great scenery and warm climate conducive for flying.”

She meanwhile expressed continued support for what she described as “unique” activities that help boost the Philippine tourism industry.

The festival features sky diving, para-gliding, air fire-fighting demo, kite flying, aircraft exhibit, model airplane show, and an aviation seminar-workshop.

Joining the DOT official on Thursday were PIHABF event director Captain Joy Roa, Clark Development Corporation president Noel Manankil, Department of Transportation Undersecretary Roberto Lim, and PIHABF president Vicencio Dizon.

The PIHABF is the longest-running sports aviation event in Asia. It runs from Feb 9 to 12, 2017 at Clark, Pampanga.