“Once you graduate engineering school, you’ll be an engineer.”
Yes, it’s what every engineering student is expected of—ideally. But in reality, we’ve got to admit, NOT everyone who enters the world of engineering school really wants to be an engineer. More often than not, there are those who don’t really know what they want to do once they graduate. For those whose passion really is engineering, that’s awesome. But for those who find out sooner or later that their passion is elsewhere, it can be a difficult journey. That’s where they set out to follow what their heart desires.
Source: Glenn Aqui
Such is the case of Jose Glenn Aqui, a 27-year old electronics engineering graduate turned professional host and magician. In this article he narrates how his passion for magic, illusion and engineering brought him to his current profession.
Glenn is an Electronics and Communications Engineering graduate from Saint Louis University, Baguio from the Philippines, and has been in the entertainment industry for four years now as a professional host and magician for various events in their country. He was not able to pursue his career as an engineer, but he is currently enjoying his passion.
The Journey as a Professional Magician
I was very fortunate to meet a professional host and magician from Manila, Philippines. Marcus Ondevilla was a known magician from a very prestigious group, Magicians Foundation Inc. – the first established magic group in the Philippines. He was very generous to help our group. He taught us how to make our hobby or passion into an income generating career. I was really into it, but in the beginning it was really difficult because I had to get used to speaking in front a large number of people – and I have always considered myself as an introvert. Our mentor, Marcus, did really great in molding us as entertainers.
Source: Glenn Aqui
Why did you choose this profession?
I chose this profession because I want to share the happiness that it brought to my life. I felt the urgency to make more people happy, especially in this very stressful world that we live in.
The biggest problem that I had when I was starting was that people would judge what I was doing with my life, especially my family. Of course, they made a lot of sacrifices for me for my schooling. And it was difficult to create a name for yourself because I was starting from scratch. No company to lean on, just yourself.
I did a lot of marketing, especially on social media. I did a lot of free shows in the beginning. I was making myself available for my friends and relatives.
A couple of years passed, and I think I made a good progress. I now have monthly shows on the weekends! I am really happy with what I have achieved.
Are you able to apply your engineering skills in your current profession?
Of course! All the time. I create some of my props for my shows. Technical drawing, physics and electronics usually is the best friend of magicians. Here in our city, there are no magic shops. So most of my props I make it myself.
The sound system is the most important thing in events, without it one has no means of communication to connect with the people. So tinkering with the sound system is a piece of cake for me, thanks to engineering concepts.
Source: Glenn Aqui
What/who inspired you to follow your passion?
Magic was introduced to me when I was a kid. We watched David Blaine as a family every night—yes the famous magician on TV. I told myself I want to do that when I grow up. Years passed by and I totally forgot about that. It was when my dad had a terrible accident and passed away that I needed some sort of output for that melancholic time. And I remember that I had a magic kit at home that I bought from a local shop during a festival here in Baguio. During the wake, I would do magic for the guests in my dad’s wake. Yes it was very ironic that I did magic while my family was mourning. But, that experience made me realize what the power of magic is. It has the power of making people happy.
After that experience I started to watch David Blaine’s TV specials and reverse engineered some of his tricks. I realized that those are just tricks and not a work of some sort of black magic, or because he sold his soul to the demon! Haha.
After a couple of months, I found a group of magicians (I thought I was the only one in my city). And we started to learn street magic tricks and I was able to get gigs from relatives and from their friends. And everything was history.
What do you love most about your profession?
The thing that I love most with my profession is the schedule, free food and free travels! I work most of the time during the weekends, so basically my weekdays are free – and I love it!
Source: Glenn Aqui
Does/ did it ever cross your mind to work in the engineering industry?
Yes. The financial part is very enticing. But I guess what made me stay in this industry is the feeling of joy and happiness that you bring to people and how you can make them forget their stress and their problems even for just a short period of time. And the sensation of “yes! I did it on my own” feeling is really great.
What advice can you give to the millennial engineers who want to want to follow their passions but have the fear of doing so?
It sounds cliché but, “Just Do It!” That’s the advice that I can give you. If you want something really bad and you really are crazy for an idea, just do the first step – Do it! Because if you have an idea and just put it in your head, nothing will happen, it will just rot and you will forget it and you would just lose hope. Even if your idea sounds crazy or you are scared, how the hell would you know if it will work out or not if you won’t even start it? I hope you understand what my point is.
And finally, if there are people standing your way, criticizing what you are up to. I want to tell you a quote from one of the people I look up to: “People who have abandoned their dreams and aspirations will always discourage others from pursuing theirs” – Casey Neistat. So don’t let these people bring you down, just start.