“Five years na kami.”
Upon hearing this statement, one can come to the conclusion that a person is merely referring to the period of a romantic relationship. However, this one is not about that.
This is a dedicated performer’s testament to the number of years he spent practicing his craft. Angelo Atutubo, 26, one of the well-known contact jugglers in the country, is a living proof of a perfect combination of skill and dedication.
An artist by heart, Angelo, also known as Ars, was as a theater actor before he became a magician. Now, Ars is a contact juggler. When we asked him if the shift was hard, he shrugged the question by saying not at all.
“Lahat mahirap, pero naging madali sa akin kasi determinado ako at binigyan ko ng time.”
Ars added that while performing is his forte, he prefers to teach the craft to those who are interested to know about it. His classroom for himself and some of his apprentice is Luneta Park, the very place where he learned and mastered the art of contact juggling. However, not everyone who wanted to learn stays.
“Nagkabola na sila, after a week or month, hindi na bumalik. Naintindihan ko naman kung bakit. ‘Di ko naman sila pwedeng pilitin. Kahit sabihin nila na gusto nila in (their) words pero ‘yung actions nila…wala din.”
On why he chooses to teach, we got a simple answer that rings true.
“To spread the art. “
Contact juggling is not a common practice here in our country, much more so for girls as pointed out by Ars. His latest student, the one whom he trains very carefully, is a girl. According to him, it’s rare for a girl to take interest in such craft and he sees that she is determined to learn. He has been training her for almost three months now in Luneta Park or any place they decide to practice.
This life can sound so colorful and dreamy, but this one is tinged with the reality of responsibilities that common adults face. Ars is also working as a clerk for the Philippine National Railway (PNR).
“Kung tutuusin kahit may work ako, kung gugustuhin kong mabuhay sa ganyan (contact juggling) mas pipiliin ko ‘yan. Pero kasi nakikita ko rin iyong buhay ngayon mahirap, kailangan ng income.”
Through this, he juggles his work and passion at the same time and he still succeeds in perfecting his craft. Even without the approval of his family, he still continues to love this craft like his soulmate. Ars attests to the harsh reality of being an artist in a country where art is shoved aside for greater issues and problems at hand. Yet, he still thrives on being a pioneer in the industry of contact juggling in the country.
We asked him if there was a time he felt like stopping for good and he said:
“Wala. Sila pinanghihinaan ng loob. Sila susuko. Ako hindi.”
Just like that, he grinned and started performing some of his tricks, even with a sprained hand.
Words by Rashel Monica Pintado
Photos by Jonnel Almestas and Rashel Monica Pintado