As expected, Rael and I had a great time last night judging MAGFI’s final competition in the Close Up Magic category.

 With us at the judges’ table was illusionist Herman Aquino and the perpetually sparkling Thomas Chan, Shangrila’s chain of hotels’ house magician.

 When the dust of the competition settled, the youthful Ronstoppable took the third place with his smooth rendition of a cups-and-balls routine.

Getting the second place was suave Marc Ondevilla, who melted our hearts with his immaculate presentation of a ring-and-string routine. He performed so slowly that the magical effect, when it happened, looked to me like a camera trick—without the camera.  He got a good score from me not only with his dexterity, but also with the skills he applied to conceal such dexterity.  He appeared powerful, not someone who knew some secret moves.  And oh, the way he handled the audience volunteer made his personality shine, something that helped him pick a few additional points.

On top of the pile emerged Jeff Tam with his hilarious coin routine segueing to a slam-bang comedy chop cup presentation I’ve never seen before in my entire life.  He blew the entire audience with his magic and rib-cracking comedy. At the same time, he regaled the magician judges with his impeccable manipulative skills. 

Rael and I were dissecting Jeff’s act on the drive home. Usually not easily pleased with displays of skills,  Rael gushed over Jeff’s strong ability to misdirect.  With many things going on at the same time, loads done well in advance, plus Jeff’s  comical demeanor and body movements, many loads went past our attention (even Rael’s hawk-eyed observation). When Jeff finally revealed the loads, we got this delicious feeling of wonder.

And amusement, too, because the loads were so incongruous they were simply hilarious.

I think Thomas Chan and Rael gave Jeff perfect scores to crown him as the night’s champion.

To all the eight contestants, thank you for giving us a magical night.

As usual, the Chubster, who emceed the program, moved the competition at the right pace to make the whole experience endearing.

Congratulations to the winners and, of course, to MAGFI President Rannie Raymundo for making close-up magic the star of the night.

Stay magical,


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