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Romero: Land Rover club ready for 2024 hot air balloon fest

CLARK FREEPORT – A group of tested and experienced off-roaders are gearing up for next year’s biggest aerosports event in the country.

The Land Rover Club of the Philippines (LRCP) will once again serve as the official chase crew for the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival slated at New Clark City on February 16-18, 2024.

Rene Romero, regional point person for LRCP, said that their organization is preparing 25 to 30 Land Rovers (LRs), a British-made off-road capable vehicle known for power and stability, to trail rugged terrains and slopes.

“Depending on the number of balloons that will be participating in the event, we usually assign one or two vehicles with crew that will chase with carry trailers and other equipment,” Romero said in a phone call.

Rene G. Romero

Romero, a veteran in balloon chase and retrieval, is widely known for his collection of LRs that are also used for community outreaches in remote and disaster-hit areas. He is the chairman of Romac Group, one of the country’s biggest manpower provider firms.

Hot air ballooning requires chase crews that follow, locate and retrieve balloons in gondolas and their pilots who fly out from designated areas to a target location. In previous PIHABF events, balloons were wind blown to riverbeds, rice paddies and mountain sides.

For next year, balloons may land on the slopes on the foothills of Mt. Pinatubo which is near the sporting venue.

“We hope that they land in nearby locations such as the peripheries of NCC. But just the same, we are ready for the challenge,” he said.

Romero said that while their group is ready to sacrifice time, he finds fulfillment in his participation as economic benefits from the event are prime considerations.

“Just knowing the benefits to hotels, restaurants and SMEs that this event brings make it worth our while,” he said.

Atty. Robby Consunji

The LRCP, headed by Atty. Robby Consunji, will be using Residencia Romero as its base camp for PIHABF 2024. The place hosted the 60th anniversary of very first LR Safari in the Philippines in October 2022.

PIHABF 2024, co-sponsored by BCDA, is expected to have better flow of traffic for spectators with wider and better access roads like the SCTEX, the ANAR (Airport NCC Access Road) and the Capas-Sta. Juliana Road.

Tarlac Governor Susan Yap has also thrown full support to the grand sporting event.