In May 2016, I got an opportunity to be interviewed by the Sr. Copywriter, Soffian Manaf, of Photobook Worldwide as as part of its endeavor to partner with different personalities around the world to take a peek at how their passion translates into a work of art. I was fortunate to be their 13th artist for this collaborative work: “Photobook Interviews: Sony Fugaban“.
Here’s the full text of the interview that encapsulates the essence of I want to write down on this page:
Sony enjoys the sights and sounds around him as he absorbs the wonders of anywhere his two feet steps on. He’s got his own blog site, where he posts updates on his daily life and many travel experiences. We spoke to him about a few things and liked what he’s got going on. Check him out as he shares a little about himself!
1. As usual, we like to start off with an intro. C’mon Sony, tell us about yourself!
Hello there! My name is Sony and I’m a travel blogger. I’m currently working as a secretary in a dairy foods company in the Middle East. I’m also a teacher by profession. Prior to working as a secretary in 2012, I was a stenographer in the Office of the Solicitor General and a part-time instructor in two well-known universities in Manila.
On the web though, I’m more known as The Wandering Feet (& Mind) because of the blog, “Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind”. I usually devote my leisure time in traveling. I prefer exploring places in my area rather than the ones outside, but I do travel outside my comfort zones given the opportunity.
2. So how did travel photography start for you? What are your thoughts on it?
Well it all started when I had my first travel experience in November 2009. It was about helping four amputees reach Mt. Batulao’s summit. The adventure was life changing and I fell in love with it, meeting amazing people from different walks of life and experiencing so many wonderful things. I was enamored by the idea that there’s more to see, discover, and experience in the vast world out there. I became passionate about documenting each travel and began sharing the stories and photos via my blog.
Travel photography is sort of larger than life, and I don’t look at it as solely an opportunity for adventure or just about jetting off to different destinations. I view it as a springboard for bigger things like insight, understanding, and, of course, the chance to recharge my batteries. I never forget to immerse in nature once in awhile amidst the hectic corporate life. Immersion in nature is fuel for the body and soul. Doing so, I feel that in this day and age, traveling is a necessity.
Travel photography also sort of connected me to the modern world that I now maintain five major social media channels. Each journey is a life-changing experience. There are always new stories to share and we never know who we can inspire. A lot of my relatives, friends, officemates, even siblings, and former students became mountain climbers or travelers because of my photos and stories. (That’s what they told me anyway!)
I’d like to note that I think travel photography is an art that is less monetized and, most of the time, free for consumption. Nevertheless, travel photographers also face great challenges. We put our lives at risk whenever we climb a mountain or travel on an off-the-beaten track, all in the pursuit to capture rare moments. You get the picture.
3. Tell us about some of the more interesting shots you’ve taken.
I have a handful of favorites but the photos that l find more interesting, or should I call meaningful, are not the ones that I took from ordinary places. Below are some of my personal favourites.
1) My first thought was this one rather tranquil photo at the scenic Lake Buhi, Philippines, which I snapped from a jeepney’s (a bus-like public transportation vehicle in the Philippines, known for being crowded and showy decorations) window while waiting for passengers. It was past three in the afternoon and clouds were covering the sun. The surroundings turned very quiet. Each time I look at the photo, I feel like my spirit instantly calms down. The kind of serenity it evokes unfolds my soul to some kind of spiritual awakening.
2) Sunsets never fail to impress me. That’s why I often gaze out into that color-soaked sky to wrap my day up. There’s something inherently magical about it — when the sun fills horizon with breathtaking colors.
3) Also, this shot from my visit to one of Saudi’s most famous Heritage Villages in Ushaiger. It was surreal. I was able to sense absolute silence covering the village, right where I was standing as I took this photograph. The ruins echo the life and character back in their glory days, and yet, there’s so much sadness radiating from these dejected structures. It made me realize that everything has its time and that all things will come to pass.
4. What’s your preferred type of destination – a tropical beach? rich culture? historical?
I like to keep my interests diverse. I’d actually be fine with any of the three choices, but if I have to choose, it’d be a tropical beach!
As an overseas worker now, I only get to see my family once a year — every summer. That’s why hitting the beach is an essential part of my vacation. “Ms. Wonderwall” and I love swimming at the beach. There is a good feel factor to something natural like the beach. I’ve read that the beach is filled with rich minerals, many of which have beneficial effects for our body. A quick dip or swimming for a long time at the beach detoxifies the skin, improves circulation, and reduces stress.
We both love that cleansed feeling and comfort after emerging from the vast ocean. It’s as if we were being embraced by the arms of a gentle celestial angel. The world instantly turns quiet and calm every time we go under.
That said, I wouldn’t mind checking out famous historical sites in Italy or immerse myself in the rich culture of India. Wishful thinking here.
5. What other things do you dedicate your energy to? We’re sure you’re more than what you let on.
I’m an exercise addict. You’d see me lifting dumbbells while cooking or doing pull–ups while watching movies or favorite TV shows. On weekends, I see to it that I have an hour of jogging, two hours of walking or an hour of yoga. Obviously mountaineering poses quite a challenge here in Saudi Arabia so I resorted to simpler and cheaper alternatives.
When I was still working in the Philippines, mountaineering was an essential part of my workout routine. It started back in November 2009 and became a monthly thing. That was the only sport I used to know how far my stamina can go.
Occasionally, I write articles about grammar. I’m well aware that I still have a lot to learn about the English language. That’s why I started a series that focuses on grammar pet peeves. Blog posts are published from time to time on my travel site as well. I’m doing it to remind myself of those fatal grammar mishaps while “self studying” countless rules of the language.
Badminton is another item on the list. I’ve been playing this sport since 2012. For me, it’s my most decent replacement here in Saudi Arabia to mountaineering where indoor activities are the trend. It’s an amazingly good sport — intense, fast paced, and exhilarating. I became incredibly fitter playing 12 hours (or more) a week in two months before every tournament, which happens yearly and is sponsored by the company where I work for. So far I get to take home medals and trophies. I’ve developed reflexes that would rival Jet Li’s because of this sport. I’m now gearing up for the tournament’s 6th season next year.
And, I’m a parent — need I say more?
6. What’s next on your to-do list?
To visit the Pyramids of Egypt (fingers crossed) and create a photo book for my best travel photos!
7. What do you usually throw in your bag when you cross new borders?
I haven’t really traveled to other countries but Saudi Arabia and my country but if I were, the first thing I would “throw with care” in my bag, other than my passport and e-ticket, would by my GF! She’s a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. I can’t imagine traveling without her.
Photobook Worldwide is the leading maker of premium handmade photo books that let you cherish your best memories into gorgeous coffee-table books. They currently serve more than 100 countries worldwide, and has 4 global offices located in Australia, Canada, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
This interview was published in May 2016 on their website and blasted out on their What’s Hot email in June 2016.