19 October 2016

The Swimming Incident In Highschool

Because I had taken swimming lessons that summer; because a classmate of mine informed our homeroom advisor that I had taken swimming lessons; because our homeroom advisor designated me as our class rep for the 400 meter freestyle swimming competition despite my protests, I found myself one cold morning standing at the edge of the pool with seven other swimmers from different sections as the entire high school population --- the jocks, the nerds, the queers --- loudly cheered us on.

“Swimmers, on your mark.” The crowd went berserk. A Mexican wave was brewing.

“Get set.” Too late to back out now.


Whereas the other swimmers executed elegant, swooping dives, I flung myself into the pool, hitting the water chest first, creating an obscene splash. The water was freezing, frostbitten. I scissor-kicked my feet and swam free-style. The race was on.

And then I bumped into a floating lane divider. I stopped, looked up, and saw that, despite my wild paddling, I moved no more than fifteen meters from the starting block while the others were nearing the fifty meter mark. Uh-oh.

I swam harder. However, I couldn’t swim in a straight line even if my life depended on it. I kept zigzagging inside my lane and hitting the floating dividers. When I reached the twenty meter mark in my crisscrossing fashion, everyone was already sprinting to the end. At that point, I began regretting my very existence.

Five minutes after the race had started, the swimmer in lane four (Chinito with hairy abs) touched the wall first. Following him were the swimmers from lanes three, five, two, six and one. The swimmer in lane seven (that would be me), however, was still at the seventy meter mark. Just a hundred thirty to go. I felt like a tadpole swimming making its way across the English Channel against the current.

I so wanted to get out of that godforsaken pool, go home, and get into a fetal position. If it was possible, I’d even crawl back inside my mother’s womb, revert into an embryo, a zygote, a sperm cell. (But then I thought, I’ll never be conceived again because the other sperm cells would beat me to my mother’s ovum).

At the hundred meter mark, my legs were numb. I couldn’t swim anymore. I just grabbed the floating dividers and tugged on them to move forward. Then I heard it over the loudspeaker: “Will the swimmer in lane seven please hurry up? We have other races to finish.” Laughter from the gallery. I realized then and there that some people have absolutely no empathy for their less fortunate brethren.

A couple of eternities later, I finally emerged from the pool, grabbed my towel, and sprinted to the locker area. From that experience, I learned my three biggest lessons in life: (1) Thou shall never compete in a swimming competition ever again; (2) Thou shall shall never compete in a swimming competition ever again; and (3) Thou shall never compete in a swimming competition ever again.

(This entry is my participation in Blogie's meme game, Funniest Childhood Memory. Thadie, and Makoy, sorry guys, I'm tagging you to do this.)

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17 October 2016

The Fall

‘So how did you sprain your knee?’ asked Jeff, my physical therapist, as his hairy arms pulled and stretched my left leg like pizza dough. ‘A basketball game?’

No Jeff, I wanted to say. You couldn't be more wrong. I don’t play basketball. Matter of fact, I can’t dribble a ball even if someone else's life depended on it. During P.E. class, I was always in the bleachers with the nerds, the loners, and the glee club members, listening to Rick Dees on the radio and scanning the court for glimpses of armpit hair. This sprain has nothing to do with basketball.

But do I tell Jeff the true cause of my accidental injury? Where do I even begin?

I could start with a brief description of Ms. Olga Gorayeb, our Filipino III teacher: half-woman, half-vulture. Has a surly demeanor that could put most suicide bombers to shame. The alleged girlfriend of the head high school librarian, Ms. Vivian Tengco.

One day, an unusually perky Ms. Gorayeb announced in class that our final project was to produce a short film based on a few chapters of Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo. This, she emphasized for the seat-fillers at the back row, is thirty percent of your final grade. ‘You guys better wow me,’ she demanded.

I took her challenge to heart. This was the perfect opportunity to impress everyone with my directorial skills and assert myself as the next Akira Kurosawa. Someone from Hollywood would eventually get a copy of my work and not before long, I’d be tearfully thanking the Academy, my parents, God, Jose Rizal, and --- wait, orchestra, just one more --- Ms. Gorayeb.

With a surfeit of inspiration and ambition, I took my ragtag cast, which included girls from Poveda high school, to Nayong Pilipino to shoot my opus. I was an exacting taskmaster, commanding countless retakes of scenes until perfection was achieved, cursing and throwing things at people if necessary. ‘Ow, that hurts,’ Anthony whined after I hit him in the eye with a crumpled script. ‘Flub that line once again and I’ll show you hurt,’ I prophesied.

The climax of my production --- its crashing chandelier (Phantom of the Opera), its helicopter landing (Miss Saigon) --- was Maria Clara’s death. For this pivotal scene, I envisioned Maria Clara gracefully jumping off from a church tower to her tragic end. ‘See that?’ I told Kathy Cruz, pointing at the eight-feet tall replica of Cagsawa bell tower beside Mayon Volcano. ‘As Maria Clara, you are going to climb that and then jump off.’

‘You’re shittin’ me right? Do you want me to die? Do you know that I’m not even being paid to do this?’ Kathy asked.

I didn’t appreciate the unprofessional timbre of her voice. I demanded that she do as she’s told right away because we’re fast losing light. She called me a tyrant and I called her a slut for blowing the track team last summer, a fact known by the entire student body and scribbled on toilet cubicles. The primma donna cried (her best performance to date) and left in a hurry, taking all the girls with her.

Without any so-called actresses left, I had to improvise. I handed the video camera to my trusted friend, Dickie, gave him precise instructions, changed into Kathy’s costume, put on an itchy wig, and expertly climbed up the bell tower. Looking down, I began having nauseating doubts about the safety and sanity of my stunt. But then I heard Dickie shout ‘Action!’ --- Maria's cue to commit suicide. The sun is setting. Too late to back out now.

I jumped.

The next second, my left leg was in a galaxy of pain. My group mates howled in convulsive laughter. But it didn’t matter. Instant replay showed we got the perfect shot.

So there. That’s how I got injured. Now, do I tell Jeff all this?

Thinking things over, I said, ‘Yeah, it was a basketball game.’

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Infinity Run (Part Two)

Ultimately, I agreed to join the ominously-named Mizuno Rush To Infinity Run (“How long before the finish line?” “Oh, just a few infinity meters”) because we hubbies rarely do sporting activities together. This, despite the fact that our relationship was founded three years ago on a badminton game. Long story short: a mutual friend, playing cupid, invited Hubby one night to box with us. But since the boxing gym was closed at the time, we decided to play badminton instead.

Being a virgin badminton player, Hubby had trouble keeping up with us and our game became an uncompetitive, sweat-free affair that had me charitably feeding shuttlecocks to his hitting zone. “Are you trying to lose on purpose?” my doubles partner asked me after we lost a pathetic set.

“No. Not really,” I said.

After our game, numbers were exchanged, calls were made, and before long, Hubby and I were inseparable as conjoined twins sharing a vital organ. The courtship period --- just who courted who is a debatable point --- went on for two weeks until one midnight, in his parked car, seats reclined, we made our relationship official. Checking his wristwatch after our first connubial kiss, Hubby said, “Just to be clear. It’s already 12:14 a.m. So our anniversary technically falls on September 10, not September 9. Okay?”

Since our initial meeting, Hubby never played badminton again. I'd prod him to take lessons, highlighting his terrific potential (“You’re tall, you’re quick, you’re Chinese!”) but he just wasn’t interested in the sport. “I’ve already gotten what I want from badminton,” he’d say.

“And what’s that?”



For a brief period last year, we jointly took yoga classes. It was his idea and gamely I went along. Twice a week for three months, we'd do all sorts of spine-breaking poses in kiln-like conditions under the watchful eye of our instructor, Hillary. “Bend your knees lower, Misterhubs. That’s not low enough. Lower… lower… lower... There. Feels good right?” Hillary said while I faked a look of comfort.

The heat and pain and Hillary notwithstanding, I enjoyed our yoga sessions. Hubby, however, didn’t. After our classes ended, I learned why. “For some reason, I get very gassy when I do yoga. Something about it makes me want to fart.”

Early this year, I found another yoga studio which offered cheaper rates and asked Hubby if he’d like to sign up for a one month package. “Nah. Yoga makes me fart.”

“I see... Well. Since you don’t want to come, I guess I’ll just have to practice yoga alone... All by myself… Just me, myself and I… No one but me… Alone… (my voice tapering to a whisper)… Alone.”

The way I uttered those words, one would think I’d just been banished to some unknown island, population zero, not counting the monkeys. But Hubby’s already immune to my theatrical attempts at guilt-tripping him. “Okay, have fun! Text me when you’re done,” he’d say.

Fast-forward to now. Now, he’s the one asking me to take part in his sport, this Rush to Infinity Run thing. Much as I want to decline, I couldn’t. How could I when, for the longest time, I’ve been telling him that we should exercise together? Consistency demands that I join that Rush to Infinity Run, flat feet be damned. Otherwise, I'd lose that precious I-Always-Do-The-Things-You-Like-But-You-Don’t-Always-Do-The-Things-I-Like card which comes in handy whenever we get into petty quarrels.

“So are you joining or what?”

“Ok, Ok, Ok.”

“Great! You won’t regret this. Promise!”


About fourteen hours later, as I’m hobbling alone somewhere along Bayani Road, the bones of my lower legs feeling like they’re about to splinter, I wondered why the hell I signed up for this.

(To Be Continued.)

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Infinity Run (Part One)

When Hubby asked, ever so casually, if I’d like to join him in an early morning, five kilometer “Mizuno Infinity Run”, my knee-jerk answer was an exaggerated and swooping “N-ooooooooo-oh,” which sounded like me saying “no” in super slow-motion.

“But why not?” Hubby asked although, having walked with me countless times in malls with huge floor spaces, he already had an idea what I was about to say. I have flat feet. I tire easily. I move in a salamander pace. I can’t do long-distance. “Plus,” I added. “I’ve worn out my old running shoes.” So there. End of discussion.

Or so I thought.

“You don’t even want to try? Not even once? Not even for me or for yourself?” Hubby asked. The last time he asked these same questions, he was coaxing me to eat sushi, which I begrudgingly did, much to my puking regret. Then he said the magic words: “There will be a lot of cute guys there, you know.”

Mmmm. Cute guys. Hmm, since he put it that way… Wait. Stop it. Must. Not. Give. In. “But... but I don’t have any shoes. I can’t use my badminton shoes for that. And I’ve worn out all my other rubber shoes,” I said.

Sensing that my defenses have been compromised, Hubby pressed on.

“I can lend you my shoes.”

“But your feet is bigger than mine.”

“Maybe you can borrow your brother’s?”

“I don’t know. He might also use them tomorrow.”

“You sure you can’t use your old rubber shoes?”

“I’m sure. The outsoles are about to fall off.”

“Can’t you just epoxy them?”

“I doubt if that’ll work.”

“That’s too bad… Did I mention about the cute guys?” He asked it in a taunting, sing-song way.

I envisioned a mass of muscle-strapped men in mini mesh shorts. Mmmm. “A lot of cute guys?”

“A lot.”

I took a moment to weigh things over.

Joining the “Mizuno Infinity Run”

1. It’ll please Hubby, the love of my life.
2. I’ll lose some calories.
3. I’ll have something to blog about.
4. Cute guys in crotch shorts.

1. Must wake up early.
2. My flat feet, weak left knee.
3. Yesterday, during yoga class, I almost fainted.
4. I’d have to buy new rubber shoes and I’ve already spent too much this week.
5. Long-distance running is not my idea of fun.

“So?” Hubby asked. “You joining?”

(To Be Continued.)

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Infinity Run (Part Three)

The time is five something in the morning. I should be in bed now, curled like a shrimp under a blue comforter, immersed in a Leandro Okabe dream, issuing soft snores unto the chilly darkness.

But no, nah-uh. Here I am instead in Hubby’s SUV, barely awake, barely showered, barely in a good mood. We’re on our way to The Fort for the Mizuno Infinity Run. Or, as I like to call it, Where I’m About To Die. That’s because since yesterday, I’ve been getting detailed premonitions of my death (accidental stumble, incoming ten-wheeler) and funeral service (theme: ‘80s prom night).

“Just promise me one thing,” I tell Hubby in my soap opera voice, the one used in hospital scenes. “Tell the mortician to keep the make-up light and natural. Only earth-tones and please no red lipstick.”

“Stop being a drama queen,” Hubby says as he turns right to an empty street. “It’s just a fun run. Nobody dies in a fun run.”

“Oh yeah? What if I…” And here I rattle off thirteen worst-case scenarios which include me being chased and mauled by a pack of hungry Dobermans. My final words as I’m being eaten alive by those ravenous beasts would be “See? I told you so.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Hubby says, dismissing my fears like the horoscope section. “Nothing’s gonna happen.”

I take a deep breath. The rush of oxygen to my lungs calms me down a bit. Maybe he’s right. It’s just a fun run. Nothing can possibly go wrong, right?

* * * * *

After parking the car and pinning our race bibs to our shirts, Hubby and I make our way to an open field where a crowd of Megamall proportions has assembled. Out here are people of different ages, fitness levels, social status, and --- as can be gleaned from the cycling shorts worn by a few intrepid males --- penile measurements.

And all of us are here because we have something to prove to ourselves. Like that grandfather over there. He’s here to prove that his body, though not as sprightly as it once was, could still cross that finish line, arthritis be damned. And that teenager over there, the one wearing his school uniform and stretching his calf muscles (mmm, nice butt), perhaps he’s here to prove that he’s still good enough for the varsity team despite failing to make it this year. And I bet that girl over there, the stick figure wearing a pink visor and standing under a shade, is here to show her boyfriend, the muscle-head beside her, that she can be sporty too.

And me. What am I here to prove? That I love Hubby enough to do things I loath to do? (“But, Misterhubs, you’ve proven yourself enough by eating fish for him,” says the Grecian chorus.) That determination can overcome flat-footedness? That people can die in fun runs?

Hubs interrupts my thoughts with a covert instruction. “Check out the guy in a white cap. Three o’clock. Near the booth.” My eyes follow the precise coordinates and --- whoa --- Mister Muscular Masturbation Material. Mmm. Makes Misterhubs Moist. He should be the one wearing cycling shorts; not that dweeb next to him with the micro-genitals. “See that?” Hubs asks. I nod my head. We both lick our lips.

That’s one of the things I treasure about our relationship, that we can both ogle at the same piece of meat without feeling pangs of insecurity or jealousy, unlike other couples. Somehow I can’t imagine my friend Gwyneth telling her boyfriend Eric, “Gosh, check out that guy’s ass. Don’t you just wanna rim the shit off that thang?” and Eric saying, “Hell yeah!”

I’m still savoring Mr. Muscular Masturbation Material when another guy walks into my peripheral vision and steals my attention away with his action figure biceps, Okabe-esque profile, and skimpy shorts, the sort only serious runners and gay aerobics instructors would dare wear. A breeze lifts his shirt up for a few seconds, giving me a glimpse of his hairy, vacuum-packed abs. Mmm. Slurp.

“So... do you still think coming here’s a bad idea?” Hubby asks.

But before I can even open my mouth, he says, “I told you so.”

(To be continued.)

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Infinity Run (Part Four)

With barely any sleep or self-belief, I came to the Infinity Run in a death row mood, my brows knotted in an advanced Boy Scout loop. But miraculously my pre-race demeanor changed after seeing some superstuds in the assembly area, some of whom I’ve codenamed Wagyu Beef, Invitation to Fellatio, and God Isn’t Fair. Then there's my brief anal encounter with one scrumptious skinhead (Mr. Head, I called him) which had a battery-charging effect on my spirits. No, we didn’t do the doggie. But I did occupy the chair Mr. Head had vacated just in time to feel the residual warmth of his buttocks.

During this body heat transference, I could feel my energy level slowly rising to that of a Laker’s cheerleader on a cocktail of amphetamines. “Gosh! I can’t believe I’m finally doing this race!! I’m so excited!!!” Right on cue, a female voice with a tendency to over-enunciate blared through the loudspeakers: “The fifteen kilometer run will begin in one minute. All fifteen K runners, please proceed to the starting line.”

Hubs and I made our way to the front of the starting block to take pixels of these intrepid endurance masochists, these fifteen K runners. There we saw socialite Tessa Prieto-Valdes, who, to my disappointment, wasn’t clad in her usual Marie-Antoinette-Goes-To-Mardi-Gras production number. Beside her was Senator Pia Cayetano, whose annoying but hypnotic campaign jingle from several elections ago had established a permanent residence in my auditory cortex. “Kay kum-pa-kum-pa-kum-pa-nyera tayo! Kay Pia-Pia-Pia-Pia Cayetano!” Repeat at least fifteen times to induce nausea; thirty for dementia praecox.

Unfortunately, my camera’s view of these two public figures was blocked at the last second by an inconsiderate passer-by. Fortunately, said passer-by has deltoids I could sink my teeth into.

An enthusiastic countdown was soon under way. Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Bang! From the sidewalk, we cheered the trotting masses as they accelerated forward. I saw one guy amidst the pack wearing a black Speedo bodysuit. That’s odd. Didn’t anyone tell him that this isn’t a swimming competition?

Thirty minutes and some warm-up exercises later, it was the five K runners’ turn to rush towards infinity. Finally!!! I was so pumped up, ready to go, ready to cream the competition, and possibly make international headlines. (“Novice Runner With Flat Feet Beats World Record By Ten Minutes!”) I would be the new darling of athletics and Hubby would be so proud of me.

Then five seconds before the starting gun was fired, a memory surfaced. 1995. High school intramurals. Against my wishes and for no reason other than I had swimming lessons that summer, our class adviser handpicked me to represent our class for the four hundred meter freestyle. It was… how shall I put it…. a fucking disaster. Not only did I end up last. While my opponents were already toweling themselves dry, I was still in the pool, on my second lap (with two more laps to go!), clinging on the buoys for dear life. Adding insult to an already ignominious situation, the wise-cracking emcee kept urging me to hurry up to make way for the next heat. I wanted to die. When I finally emerged from the pool, drenched in chlorinated water and humiliation, I vowed never to join any race again. Not even a sack race at a children's party.

Until now.

I inhaled deeply, giving my lungs a full tank of oxygen. Then a gun was fired. My race has officially begun.

Redemption time.

(To Be Concluded.)

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Most Romantic

This love story begins with indigestion ~ Hubby's, that is. Something in the miso soup he ordered caused him gastric turbulence, thereby cutting short what was supposed to be a romantic night out. Regretting my restaurant choice, we repaired back to my place where Hubby sequestered himself in my tiny bathroom while I watched cable TV.

That reality dating show, The Bachelor, was on. Prince Charming and his wannabe Cinderella, a generic blond whose two favorite words were “connection” and “chemistry,” were riding a horse-drawn carriage through the cobbled streets of Rome, passing by the Piazza di Spagna along the way. Their rendezvous continued with a candlelit dinner at a balcony overlooking The Vatican and a DSLR moment before the idyllic Fontana di Trevi where they sealed their newfound amore with a make-out session to end all make-out sessions. Alone, Generic Blond Girl frothed to the camera that “this has got to be, like, the most romantic night... everrr.”

That was when my Nokia vibrated on the tabletop. 1 new message, it said.

From: Adorable Hubs

The urgency was unmistakable. I got off the couch, stat, and ran. With one ear stethoscoped on the closed bathroom door, I asked Hubby if everything's OK. He told me to come in. “You sure?” Affirmative.

I entered, knowing that, in doing so, I'd be crossing a line of intimacy I never imagined crossing, certainly not during our starry-eyed courtship phase. Inside, I saw Hubby seated in an orthodox manner (as opposed to a weight lifter's squat) on the toilet, his lower garments bunched around his ankles, his profile scrunched up in obvious discomfort.

“Hubby, you OK?” Our eyes met and I could tell that he was on the verge of crying.

“Sorry you had to see me like this but I need you to be here,” he said.

“It's OK, it's OK.”

“Please hold my hand.”

His palm was cold and sweaty and I held it as I would a small, wounded bird. I wanted to say something, words that would allay the pain, but my speech failed me and all I could do was to stand there and look and wonder what the hell's going on.

Truth be told, the ick factor wasn't lost on me. After all, here's a guy audibly defecating in my presence. Standing there, listening to the liquids sloshing inside the bowl, I couldn't help but envision foamy corn bits and fibrous strings swirling around a rust-colored soup.

But looking at Hubby, whose damp and fatigued face has seen better moments, I knew as surely as I know my name that I could never love anyone more than him. For he is my partner, my best friend, my Hubster Bunny, the only life force in the universe who understands and speaks my secret language, and in this cramped, odorous, linoleum-tiled space, where cockroaches hold parties when the light's turned off, Hubby, at his most vulnerable, needed me to just be by his side.


Happy third anniversary to us, my Adorable Hubby! Ayravyuberimats!!

[Illustration by loud cloud]

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Oh Note Divine!

We were two gladiators locked in a fierce battle. “OK, your turn,” Dickie said after inflicting minor injury to my ear. Finding inspiration from Braveheart (“… they may take our lives but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!”) I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply and, in a high-pitched falsetto commonly associated with Chinese opera, warbled:


Despite all the effort I put into it, the sound I made mimicked the dying yaps of a Chihuahua with a marble lodged in its trachea. That wasn’t my intention, of course. I was aiming for the long, gravity-defying whistle note Mariah Carey unleashed in her rendition of “Oh Holy Night”, that part in the final chorus where she trilled like an angel in the throes of multiple orgasms. For almost an hour, Dickie and I have been on the phone, competing to see who could come closest to that note, the sonic equivalent of Mt. Everest’s summit.

Why, you might ask, would two seemingly sane individuals engage in such a contest and risk laryngeal bleeding? For one, Dickie and I love to pit ourselves against each other. Competition is one of the four marble pillars of our enduring friendship, the other three being our passion for music, our contempt for certain talentless celebrities and our propensity to follow stalk attractive guys at malls. Over our four-year stay in high school, we competed to see who could design the best Olympic logo (me), who could run faster (him), who could fake a cheerful demeanor towards unpleasant people more unconvincingly (him by a mile), and so on.

For another, Alvin was able to hit that note. Alvin was a gangly sophomore and a member of the school’s much maligned chorale group. One time, during an a capella performance of “If I Ever Fall in Love” at the auditorium, Alvin woke the audience up by hitting the perfect Bb6 whistle note. Dickie and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows, our thought bubbles reading: “If this dweeb can do it, so can we.” Hence, our sing-off.

After seventeen attempts to hit The Note, Dickie was, so far, the over-all leader with his uncanny vocal imitation of a heart monitor flat line beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, which trumped my simulation of squeaking windshield wipers. Nonetheless, I was confident in my ability to come from behind and snatch victory in my next attempt. I could almost feel the whistle note surging up my respiratory system, eager to escape and shatter glassware. I cleared my throat. I opened my mouth. I sang.

Meanwhile, three houses away, Mrs. Francia, a retired piano teacher and stray cat collector, decided to make a phone call. So she picked up the receiver, placed it on her ear and, due to her random misfortune of sharing a party line with us, heard:


It was the sort of soul-piercing noise one would hear in a serial killer’s dungeon: the muffled shrieking of a gagged victim who had been subjected to helium gas and was now about to be skinned alive. Not exactly the dial tone Mrs. Francia had expected. The death-scream caused Mrs. Francia to utter an obscenity (“Ay puta!”) and slam the phone, which, in turn, caused Dickie and I to explode in a gas of laughter as only two best friends could.

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25 December 2009

A Heart-Warming Christmas Carol From Mystica (Discretion is Advised)

♬♫ Oh... you...

Better watch out!

You better not cry.

You better not pout. I'm telling you why...

Santa Claus Mystica is coming to town!

♬ She's making a list.

And checking it twice.

She's gonna find out who's...

naughty and...


Mystica is coming to town!

♬ She sees you when you're sleeping.

She knows when you're awake.

She knows if you've been...

... bad or...

... good ...

... so be good for goodness' sake!

So you better watch out!

You better not cry.

You better not pout. I'm telling you why...

Mystica is coming to town...

Mystica is coming to town...

Mystica is coming to town! ♫♪

Merry Christmas po! Hihi.

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