MANILA - A behavioral therapist who used magic to get out of his shell when he was younger is now using the same technique to bring smile to his young clients.

Giancarlo Urbano has always been introverted as a child. Fearing rejection, he used to just watch other children from afar, not having enough courage to actually play with them.

"Mahiyain ako, to be honest, go with the flow lang ako. Nasa gilid lang, may sariling mundo. Pero deep inside talaga, gusto kong makisali. Kasi parang ang saya saya nila. Iniisip ko sa sarili ko before na kapag nakipag-usap ako dito, hindi nila ako papansinin," he said.

For Gian, getting rejected is similar to feeling like it's the end of the world.

"Natatakot ako sa rejection. 'Pag nareject ako, end of the world ko na."

Despite his struggle, he found a way that helped him gain friends-- doing magic.

"Para sa akin naging turning point ang magic. Doon ako nagkaroon ng confidence na ilabas siya sa comfort zone ko," Gian said.

Performing magic tricks for other people did wonders for Gian, especially when it comes to interacting with them.

"Nung simula kong natutunan 'yung magic, na-try ko siya sa ibang tao. Dati 'yung friends ko, selected few lang, pero nung na-try ko 'yung magic sa ibang tao, mas madaling makakuha ng rapport. Instant rapport," he said.

"'Hala pano nangyari 'yun?' Tatanungin ka na. So ang mangyayari, instead na ako ang makikipag-usap sa kanila, sila 'yung makikipag-usap sa akin. 'Yung magic ko, nagiging conversation starter," Gian added.

Doing magic helped boost Gian's morale, and helped him come out of his shell.

"Dalawa 'yung nakukuha kong feeling. Una, self-fulfillment. Tapos pangalawa, nakukuha ko 'yung feeling na nafi-feel nung pinagma-magic-an ko. Sobrang masaya kasi tsaka masarap 'yung feeling," he said.

Inevitably, however, Gian started getting varied reactions to his tricks.

"Iniintindi ko na lang sila. I mean, iba't ibang tao, iba't ibang opinyon 'yun eh. For example, may mga tao na kapag pinakitaan mo ng magic, sobra 'yung reaction nila. Samantalang 'yung iba, "Ah, that's nice. I like it." 'Yun lang," he said.

Although performing magic tricks is a worthwhile activity, Gian has long accepted that he cannot turn it into a full-time profession.

He soon applied as a behavioral therapist, and was informed that he might not be able to use his skills in magic.

"Nagtuloy tuloy 'yung process until na-accept ako sa company na ang iniisip ko, hindi ko talaga magagamit 'yung magic," Gian said.

But one child proved him wrong.

"Until naka-meet ako ng kid, highly functional siya. So nagpakita ako ng magic trick. Ang nangyari noon, natuwa siya. Nagsmile, so sabi ko, okay pala 'to. Effective sa kanya," he added.

Since then, Gian has been using magic to deal with children. Most of his young clients like what he does, especially since children tend to be very visual.

For him, helping children and making them smile is magic.

"Sa trabaho, nandun 'yung magic. Hindi siya 'yung magic trick eh, pero 'yung naturuan mo 'yung bata na gumawa ng task na yung iba, hirap na hirap ituro, para sa akin, magic na 'yun eh," Gian said.

"Nagkakaroon kami ng legacy sa kanila eh. Parang trademark, naiiwan mo 'yung trademark mo sa kanila eh," he added.

As someone who gains self-esteem by seeing the reactions on people whenever he performs magic tricks, seeing his clients and their parents' smile is enough encouragement for him to continue what he loves doing.

"And then 'yung result, doon ako natutuwa kasi very same sila. Magic trick ako sa isang tao, natuwa siya, nagsmile. So sa akin, okay 'yun, magic. Ito naman sa trabaho ko, nagturo ako sa kid, 'yung parents, natuwa. Same reaction, 'di ba?" Gian said.

"Kapag nakakagawa ka ng mabuti sa kapwa, magic 'yun eh."