Dubai: All it took was a deck of cards lying in his cupboard to change the course of his life.
Meet Normando Macalinao, 27, a waiter in Dubai who turned a celebrity magician.
From earning just Dh900 a month waiting tables, this talented man could now earn up to Dh5,000 an hour, depending on the gig and special invites.
More so, this sought-after magician has brushed with noted celebrities, business tycoons and performed for royal families around the world.
Having a dream
Macalinao came to Dubai in 2014 with a dream to one day wait tables at Burj Al Arab and Atlantis The Palm.
“I am a graduate in Hotel Management. Back home in Philippines it is the dream of every hotel management graduate to work in two super star hotels of Dubai – Burj Al Arab and Atlantis The Palm. It was my dream too.”
Today this talented magician has a show on once a week at Atlantis The Palm. At Burj Al Arab too, he has shows on and off. Other venues like Zero Gravity, Huqqa, Dejavu restaurant, Nazcaa at The Address Fountain View among others have all hired him for his magical performances.
Turning back the clock
In 2018, Macalinao worked as waiter in Dubai at Radisson Blu – Media City. He started here in the back end washing dishes. He was later promoted to a waiter.
One day, he chanced upon an old set of cards pack lying inside his cupboard. “It was a game changer.”
Macalinao played magic since his childhood with family and friends. “I always carried a pack of cards with me. When I moved to Dubai, I brought the deck of cards with me.”
He decided to get his act going as a magician from that day.
“I started practicing some tricks and started performing at small events. Soon I decided to quit my job and dedicate my career to being a magician.”
Macalinao put all his savings into his new venture in Dubai. “I was still waiting for the right break to come along. Just when I had reached a tipping point, a businessman spotted me at one of the events I was performing. He invited me to be a part of a large show he was hosting. That was it. I met so many celebrities, business professionals. Next thing my calendar was looking busy.”
He said: “My Instagram just blew up. Everyone was curious to know about me.”
Today his Instagram handle @normandothemagician has over 97.8 k followers, including celebrity Paris Hilton.
“It was such an honour when Paris Hilton started following me. She even asked me to do a show for her, which I did. It was definitely an epic moment in my life.”
Since then, Macalinao has performed for other celebrities like Ne-Yo, Jason Derulo, Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao. There are other legends he has peformed for.
Breaking the norm
Macalinao’s parents were active in Philippines’ politics. His mother Ruth was a city councillor for Aliaga - a second class municipality in the province of Nueva Ecija of Philippines. His father Norberto is a farmer-turned-businessman. He is a Barangay Captain for San Eustacio in Aliaga.
Macalinao recalled his parents wanted him to join politics as well. He dabbled in politics before he realised it was not his cup of tea. He decided to graduate in Hotel Management and the rest, as they say, is history.
No magician in the family
He said he is first magician in the family. His brother Nathaniel works as a public relations officer for a car company. His other sibling, Norberto Jr., is a rice businessman back in Philippines. Another brother, Nomer, is also into rice trading business, while his sister Nerrie Joy works for an oil and gas company. “It is a gift and I am glad I have had the chance to pursue this as a full time career.”
Message to Kabayans
Macalinao said: “Like me there are so many Kabayans living in the UAE with so much talent. Most Filipinos are gifted with creativity. They should capitalise on that. If you have the urge to pursue your passion go for it. Try your luck. Take the risk. You never know when your star turns up one day,” said Macalinao.
Daring to dream
He’s not done dreaming. His next target: “To win Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent. I also want to create a magical restaurant in Dubai. It will be a fancy restaurant and I will blend my passion of magic into that.”
“It has been quite magical, to say the least for me. I say: dare to dream. Dubai is a city that gives you opportunities. You just have to be here to grab and take that journey further,” he said.