Blog-o-Rama feature in Manila Bulletin April 2, 2007
“Ironwulf” is an award-winning site which is now on its sixth version. The striking design, eye-catching pictures and rich visuals tell much about the creative background of its author, Ferdz Decena who used to be an art director and photographer of an inflight magazine. He also describes himself as a mountain climber, photographer, frustrated musician, silent poet and anime enthusiast. Meet the “Ironwulf:”
Q. Please tell us a little something about yourself.
A. My name is Ferdz and I’m in my late twenties. I started out as a web designer for a few years but got a bit tired of coding and eventually moved on to print. I got a chance to be an Art Director and Photographer for a local Inflight magazine for a couple of years, which was a rewarding and learning experience. Now I got hired as an editorial and marketing assistant as well as assisting the web development of an international firm. I have always loved traveling, writing, music, photography and art. So during my free time I try to backpack on different destinations with my friends who similarly have the same passion. I would have pursued music but music wasn’t very cooperative with me so I just backpacked.
Q. Can you give us a little background about your blog and why you named it Ironwulf?
A. I was kind of expecting that question coming. When I got my first job after college, I was so engrossed playing with Computer Role Playing and Adventure games. I thought the name Ironwulf was a cool alias for my warrior character so I named my first website like that as well. My first website was more of a portfolio and where I practice web designing. I was able to blog then as well but manually. Since I started climbing mountains and discovered the fun of travel five years ago, my gaming somehow died down. The name kinda got stuck and has grown on me so I retained it. The only difference now is that I’m now into real life adventures instead of a virtual one.
Q. Do tell us something about your blog’s design and the publishing system you’re using.
A. The design for ironwulf.net changes every year. Most of the time, it’s inspired by what my goals are for that year or so. For this year, En Route is more on knowing where you want to go and getting there. And having worked on a magazine for a while, I also wanted to incorporate that style in a blog. Less clutter and focus more on content and pictures. So I hid up some elements to give more space. I also made sure the design elements I used would deliver that experience of a journal or a travel blog. I’ve been using WordPress for some time now and I’m really enjoying it. You have more control over the design and a bunch of plug-ins to enhance your blog. In addition, there’s also a huge community out there to help everyone learn and get started easily.
Q. Content vs design: which one is more important to you? How should content and design complement each other in a blog?
A. Well, content comes first for me as that is where I get the idea for my design. The design is simply a presentation of the content. A good content is good in itself but personally if I see a blog with all the text flooding my browser it could get dreary. Same with how an ultra-sleek artsy designed blog can fall short if it doesn’t deliver on its content. So we have to somehow strike a balance between the two and focus more on the whole reader experience.
Q. When you first up your blog, what were your objectives?
A. When I started around 5 years ago, it was more on self-therapy, publishing some poems and a practice in writing. I also have some music and movie reviews as well. Now I try to focus more on documenting my travels. Thinking maybe many years from now I can look back and show my grandsons and daughters where their lolo has been at that day and age.
Q. What do you think are the qualities of a good blog? Of a good blogger?
A. Well a good blog mainly has a good repeat-visitor value. It’s content, whether it’s good writing, or impressive photos or combination of both draws in readers again and again. A good blogger also has that unique personality and the passion that sets his or her site stand out from the rest. It’s a pretty subjective thing really but when I visit a blog for the first time and say to myself, “Wow! Why haven’t I stumbled here before?” and put it on my bookmarks, that a good blog for me.
Q. You are stranded in a desert island. What would be the top three things you’d like to bring with you?
A. Haha. Good question. First I would bring my camera, then my laptop and a 3G enabled roaming phone. I would take pictures of the island, no matter how small or big it is and blog about getting stranded here. Maybe I’ll get rescued or probably more people would be stranded with me. That would be cool.
Q. Any tips to our readers on traveling this summer?
A. Oh yeah! Travel light as much as possible, it’ll be easier to move around without that excess baggage slowing you down. Get lost once in a while. You’ll never know what you might discover. And more importantly, enjoy the journey! Don’t get trapped with the details of your trip or if anything goes wrong. What I learned in the years of my travel is to expect the unexpected, so be more flexible and adventurous.
Q. What do you think is the best thing about blogging? How do you liken the joy that blogging brings you?
A. Well the best thing about blogging is that finally everyone has a chance to get their voices heard. They can talk about anything they want and express any emotions they have. It can be therapeutic. It can be a learning tool. And it can be a means for advocacy. Personally, blogging has made me more aware of the things around me. It reminds you not to slack-off but go on living actively or else you won’t have anything to blog about. And best of all you can have new friends in the blogosphere, online and offline.
Q. Your blogging/blogger’s wish list for 2007.
A. I wish…
… to travel to more exotic destinations around the world so I could share it to my readers and inspire them to travel as well
… that I could do travel writing and photography in a full time basis
… and that more Pinoy bloggers would be recognized globally!