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name and portrait Fung Yu


company Firefly Digital Designs Services
website name Firefly360’s Blog
website url http://virtualjournals.net
city and country Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines

personal statement

Photography grabbed me while I was still in high school, when my first film SLR began my journey in capturing images. But during the days of film, my eagerness slowly faded and after graduating from school with an engineering degree, I sought a traditional job like most people. My old  camera, a Casio RF-2, sits sadly on a shelf to this day.

The age of the digital camera arrived; the ability to view your pictures instantly reignited my interest, but again, only briefly. Somehow being tied to an 8 to 5 job doesn't offer much time to explore your passion.

Then it hit me! I saw my first 360 panorama sometime in 1998, they were called “photobubbles” in those days and they immediately caught my attention.

Having the interest without the means translates to zero accomplishment, at least that was the way for me then. The equipment was expensive and you needed a license for every photobubble you captured and stitched. Add to that the absence of a market in the Philippines - resistance to technology I called it – and it dampened my enthusiasm. But from this moment on, I faithfully followed the trend on the Internet, read whatever news I could find, while at the same time stayed on the look-out for an opportunity to introduce the technology locally.

The turning point came after more than ten years of working in IT, which finally bored the heck out of me. Four years had passed since my first encounter with 360VR, and apparently no one in my country took it seriously. 360VR was like waiting for me, prowling, and finally it pounced!

So I quit my day job, took a consulting position instead to give me more time to study my options. IPIX was still at the top of the 360 food chain and I almost went in that direction if not for an accidental encounter with cubic QTVR. I still remember quite vividly seeing those 360 VRs of the Bahamas, the exquisite details of the images, the quality of capture... they just took my breath away!

Today, I shoot commercially, mostly for real estate developers, the tourism industry, and the public media. My work spans culture, tourism, heritage, transportation, journalism, and human interest. But the works that give me the most satisfaction are in the new field of "virtual journalism;" as they are published and used in articles that can empower the viewers in attaining change and hope. I continually strive for 360 VR’s to be accepted in mainstream journalism - putting the viewer at the center of the news.

For me, 360 VR’s offer the freedom to express my creativity in a unique way, an instrument of empowerment, The inherent feeling of pride in showing the beauty of the Philippines, and the ability for this technology to be used for economic development and to influence my generation and beyond for the betterment of my country.

suggested panel layout

first image
first image title Ancient Boats
first image subject
first image place date Three balangay boats in formation off the coast of Sibutu in the southern Philippines
first image caption I had the privilege of joining the Voyage of the Balangay, a project undertaken by the Kaya ng Pinoy Foundation to re-trace the Filipino ancestor’s migration in the Indo-Pacific during pre-colonial times in an effort to rekindle the nation's pride and spirit in their long forgotten maritime heritage

First excavated in the late 1970s in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte by the National Museum, a balangay (also called ‘Butuan boat’), is built with carved planks connected at the edges by pins or dowels. Nine balangays were actually discovered: the first one was preserved and displayed at the excavation site, carbon-dated at 320 A.D. The second was dated to 1250 and is now displayed in the National Museum. The third was moved to the Butuan Regional Museum for preservation work, and the remaining six balangays remain in their original waterlogged condition, yet to be excavated. A crew of 40 comprising the 1st Philippine Mount Everest Team, members of the Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine Navy, the Badjao boat builders, and volunteers from the City of Butuan.

second image
second image title Good Friday Crucifixion
second image subject
second image place date A mass of people gravitates toward a crucified penitent in Cutud, Pampanga in the northern Philippines
second image caption On Good Friday each year, in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, particularly in Brgy. San Pedro, Cutud, thousands of people flock to witness the world-renowned crucifixion that is re-enacted on a man-made hill. It was first performed during the Holy Week 57 years ago by volunteer artists of Brgy. San Pedro Cutud who, like the rest of the Filipinos during that period, had time on their hands because work or exertion on those days was taboo.

Contrary to the Catholic Church’s teachings and the commercialization of the event, the fervor for the tradition stays, with the townsfolk sticking to their faith and spiritual practice, constantly remaining pure in their "panata" (vow of sacrifice ) which continues to be a source of community solidarity and strength.

third image
third image title Palawan Beach
third image subject
third image place date Outrigger boats ferry tourists to the UNESCO inscribed underground river in Puerto Princesa, Palawan
third image caption The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located about 50 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. The National Park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the northern coast of the island. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east. The City Government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park since 1992. It is also known as St. Paul's Subterranean River National Park, or St. Paul Underground River. The entrance to the Subterranean River is a short hike from the town of Sabang. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the 28 finalists for the "New Seven Wonders of Nature" competition.

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