Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It is more fun travelling on expressways

MALOLOS CITY—Travelling on three expressways operated by the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) will be more fun this Holy week.

This came as MPTC prepared contingency measures to address expected surge in traffic volume, while encouraging sponsors to let motorists taste and experience their products.

This move is a giant leap from the previous years’ usual motorist assistance services like free towing services, deployment of addition patrol enforces and toll tellers, and medical services through provision of ambulance for medical emergencies.

This year, MPTC along with Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC), Cavite Infrastructure Corporation (CIC), and Tollways Management Corporation (TMC) in coordination with Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) has expanded its yearly motorist assistance called “Safe Trip Mo, Sagot ko” (SMSK).

Co-presented by Caltex Philippines, MNTC is beefing up it deployment of field forces along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX),and the Cavite Expressway (Cavitex).

Rodrigo Franco, president and chief Operating officer of the MNTC said that additional manpower will be deployed at major interchanges along the NLEX especially in Balintawak, Bocaue, Mindanao Avenue, Dau and mabalacat.

At SCTEX, they will deploy additional personnel at Tarlac and Tipo exits.

Franco said they expect traffic to surge by 30 percent  or about 60,000 from the daily average of 170,000 vehicles .

He said that traffic surge is expected starting Holy Wednesday until  late Maundy Thursday for north bound vehicle along the NLEX.

At SCTEX, he said that the daily average of 24,000 vehicles is also expected to climb by 30 percent.

2014 Hot Air Balloon Festival pushes through

2013 International Hot Air Balloon Festival at Clark Freeport Zone. File photo by Peter Alagos.

MALOLOS CITY—All roads leads to Lubao town in Pampanga for the biggest  annual hot air balloon festival in South East Asia starting April 10.

Organized by the newly formed Pilipinas Hot Air Balloon Festival Inc., (PHABFI) in coordination with the Department of Tourism (DOT), the four day event is expected to draw at least 100,000 international and domestic tourists.

It will start on April 10 and will end on April 13.

Ronaldo Tiotuico, director of DOT Central Luzon Office said that as the annual festival moved from Clark Freeport Zone to Barangay Prado Siongco in Lubao town this year, more participants have registered to join.

In a live interview over Radyo Bulacan, Tiotuico confirmed that 35 to 38 multi-colored and differently shaped balloons from nine participating countries are joining.

Flying the balloon will start as early as 5:30 AM, while at night, glow in the night hot air balloons will also served as an attraction. 

The glow in the night balloon will be showcased on Friday and Saturday nights,buts such will be allowed for lift off as all nigh glow balloons will be tied on an anchor.

Tiotuico said that there will be balloons that tourists can ride, but it will also be tied to an anchor.

“This is the biggest annual hot air balloon festival in South East Asia and we are inviting everybody to come and see,” he said.

The director also said that as early at last week, participating international balloonist have arrived and in the country and tour other parts of the country before the starting their preparation for today’s events.

Some of the participating balloonists came to as far as France, Germany, the United States, Malaysia and South Korea.

Tickets for the annual festival is P200 each, which is lower than the P250 charged in the past when the festival was held in Clark Freeport Zone.  Tickets will be sold at the gates.

With regards to road directions, Tiotuico said that those coming from Manila can exit at San Fernando Toll Plaza along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and head all the way to Lubao, the last town of Pampanga when going to Bataan province.

However, there are road constructions along the Gapan-Olongapo Road on the east side of Lubao.

For this, Tiotuico advised visitors to turn right to Lubao megadike and follow the Luba by-pass road, then right again on Gapan-Olongapo Road.

He said that tourist can also use the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway, then exit at the Dinalupihan interchange and turn left on the Gapan-Olongapo Road towards Hermosa town in Bataan, then Lubao town.

As this developed, Tiotuico said they are keeping their fingers crossed that there will be no rains during the festival

However, Lubao town experienced heavy downpour on Tuesday night.  Dino Balabo