Only in the Philippines could you have a name for a fun park like Boom na Boom. The Filipinos have an amazing ability to simplify some things and over complicate others. The Tagalog language and names like Boom na boom are examples of the former and somehow when you live over here a name like this make perfect sense.
Boom na Boom is basically a fun fair it cannot be categorized as a theme park as there is no central theme and there are no associated characters such as Mickey Mouse or Donald duck. At its best Boom na Boom is somewhere between the old fashioned English fete and a very simplistic amusement park. This is not to say it is no good, on the contrary it is simplistic fun and makes for an entertaining day or night out.
I am not sure when Boom na Boom originated but I first came across it in 1994 in Manila right next door to Starcity on Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. I have asked many Filipinos why it is called Boom na Boom and the most logical explanation I got was because the name is reminiscent of firecrackers exploding and in the Philippines firecrackers always denote a celebration or a special event.
This Boom na Boom is situated on Clark Airbase right next to SM Mall, it easy to get to and there is plenty of parking space available however, be aware it is on a grassy field so if it has been raining the parking lot becomes more like a parking bog. If this is the case then patrons can simply park in the SM parking lot which is tarmac and walk to the park.
Upon entering you will be greeted by the obligatory Filipino band. All members of the band will invariably be excellent musicians and entertainers and as such are worth watching and listening to for a couple of songs. The band will normally play a nice mixture of Filipino and English language songs ranging from the classics through to competent renditions of the latest hits. When we were there a small group of Filipino fans were watching the band and obviously enjoying themselves. We listened for about two songs then it was time to hit the rides.
When we entered the ever practical Shagger suggested that the best ride to take first would be the sky chair so we could get a view of the park and plan our strategy. This turned out to be a great idea as the sky chair provides an excellent view of the park and all the amusement available. On a side note for the mongerers this is considered a very romantic ride and your Filipina companion will love it.
The picture at one end shows exactly how the Filipinas view the sky chair
No fun park is complete without a roller coaster ride and the roller coaster here is called the Boomerang. I asked the guy selling the tickets why did they call it the boomerang and he replied I think it is because it is shaped like a boomerang then his partner told me no sir it’s because it travels in a circular pattern and always comes back to where it started from. I have no idea if this is the truth but it made enough sense to be plausible.
In my experience the Filipinos are extremely good with their hands however the work is normally done with archaic tools and tends not to last very long, as such I was very reluctant to get on the roller coaster and decided I would leave this to the lighter weight girls.
Having said this they do some maintenance on the rides as was clearly evident by this sign but being overweight I was not about to risk a ride on the Boomerang.
The boomerang design in modern day terms is old fashioned and simplistic however there are the necessary turns and dips where the passengers are thrown around at an appropriate velocity so it certainly suffices when it comes to being a fun ride.
Another classic ride to be found in any modern day amusement park is what I call the loop de loop or in this case the Super Loop. This is basically a giant circle standing about 60 feet high at its highest point. The circle has a metal rail which carries metal carriages. The idea is the carriages rock back and forth along the metal railing until the train builds up enough velocity to go round the complete circle. Of course this means at some point the passengers will be upside down 70 feet up in the air. To make matters worse during the ride there will come a time when the train is seemingly stuck at the top of the circle and all the passengers for at least 10 seconds are suspended upside down high in the air.
I went on a similar ride when I was a kid and I knew there was no way I was going to subject myself to this hazardous ride again. There was no such fear for the girls however and amidst screams of delight and terror they took the ride and came out with shaky legs but otherwise unscathed.
As for me I took one look at the Super Loop and with my lack of respect for Filipino maintenance skills decided it would be a cold day in hell before I ever went on that. As I gazed in horror at the Super Loop, Shagger in his laconic Aussie way said “I bet that’s the best collection point for wallets and cell phones in the Philippines”.
Another classic ride contained in most fun parks throughout the world is the Octopus. This ride features eight arms with little carriages on the end of each arm hence the name Octopus. I always enjoyed this ride because the carriages although fixed can spin in just about any direction backwards, forwards and to either side. Combine this with up and down circular motion of the arms and you have a truly entertaining ride.
After a quick stroll around it was time for the Vortex. This is a very basic ride where the passenger is put in a carriage with a bar to hold him or her in place. The carriage then rises at a 90 degrees angle to approximately 50 feet high. Once it reaches the top it then descends rapidly in a corkscrew motion. The entire ride only lasts one minute but it is kind of fun and nice to take your Filipina on as she is confined in a small place next to you which is nearly always an advantage.
Another absolutely mandatory ride in any fun park is the ghost train. People all over the world have their superstitions and beliefs in the super natural demons etc, and the Filipinos are no different. People’s desire to get scared has always confounded me but it is exactly this desire that makes rides like the ghost train so popular.
The Ghost train or horror train as it is called here is very basic and actually a testament to Filipino ingenuity. The ride features some great murals outside which set the tone for what is to come once inside.
Amidst haunting cry’s from supposed ghosts the train slowly takes off and enters the tunnel. Inside, the tunnel is only about 50 feet long and the walls are decorated with florescent paintings various monsters and evil spirits. On the first trip through the tunnel absolutely nothing happens and one is left with the feeling of having been ripped off. Then on the second trip through from out of the darkness jump Filipino guys in masks banging on the carriage doors and moaning in an imitation of a monster or ghost.
Whilst this may seem a rather pathetic attempt at scaring the passengers I saw it as a testament to Filipino ingenuity. These guys operate on a shoe string budget and yet night after night they manage to genuinely scare the Filipino passengers simply by wearing a mask and jumping out of the darkness saying BOO. It also demonstrates just how easy it is to scare a Filipina.
Believe me I saw a cue of grown young ladies refuse to ride the ghost train because they were genuinely convinced there was a ghost or monsters inside.
There are also a number of rides and games for the younger children and principle among these is the good old fashioned merry go round. The merry go round in Boom na Boom is situated right in the middle of the park and features a large range of wooden animals to ride and it actually revolves at quite a fast pace.
Another fun one for the younger kids is the large slide where the kids can slide down into a bunch of soft rubber balls and then proceed to throw the balls at each other. This is simplicity at its best and the kids seem to thoroughly enjoy it.
Of course we are in the Philippines and as such we have to have games that involve the chance to win money. The classic of these is Bingo and there are numerous Bingo tables situated throughout the boom na boom grounds. Bingo is a very popular game in the Philippines simply because it is easy to play, it is cheap to set up a bingo stall and it requires minimal investment by the players.
There is also a sort of loto game and a variation of roulette.
The idea behind the Roulette imitation game is to throw a ping pong ball into a net with a wooden box beneath it. In the box are painted a series of images such as a king of hearts the ace of spades etc. The idea is to pick which square the ping pong ball will land on and make a bet accordingly.
Perhaps the most basic game and therefore very popular amongst the Filipinos is the good old coin toss. The idea is to toss the coin and make it land in the middle of a square and then win whatever is denoted in that square.
All in all Boom na Boom is an interesting experience. On the surface it is a simple amusement park with some basic rides and games which feature the chance to win a prize or better yet money.
On the philosophical level Boom na Boom is in many ways a direct reflection of Filipino culture from the parks name and the simplistic almost child like approach towards entertainment, the lack of money and the chance to win plastic Tupperware.
On some rides such as the ghost train Filipino superstitions are played upon and then there is the obligatory Filipino band providing American songs sung in perfect English yet these same people are unable to have an extended conversation in English.
Most importantly the amusement park appeals to the child in us all. This is clearly emphasized as you see 27 to 47 years old thoroughly enjoying the classic rides with what can only be described as childish enthusiasm.
If you are here during the holiday period I thoroughly recommend a visit to Boom na Boom. Take your honey ko or even your temporary honey ko she will love it as will you. Even the most sophisticated Filipina has a childlike sense of humor and fun, as such you cannot go wrong with a date to Boom na Boom.
The most expensive ride is 40 peso and on average most rides will cost 20 or 30 peso. If you get tired of walking around there are some hot dog and barbecue stands however I wouldn’t recommend eating at these.
There is some seriously impressive eye candy available but to be honest most of the top notch stuff will be found on the arms of a Filipino guy however there are also groups of attractive young ladies wandering around and once eye contact is made it is then just a matter of getting a cell phone number and doing the leg work.
Lastly, a lot of bar girls will take a night off and can be found wandering around Boom Na Boom on any given night. This makes Boom Na Boom an excellent pick up area for everyone concerned.