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Miriam Dictionary

From the book published by the MOVERS-YOUTH (Movement for Responsible Public Service-Youth Organization for Unity, Truth, and Honesty) in 1991.




“Sir, I remind you that as the Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation, I represent the majesty of the Republic of the Philippines. You have the obligation to show respect and courtesy to me. Now shut up, or I'll knock your teeth off!”

(To an alien criminal suspect who raised his voice to interrupt her during a televised press conference.)


“This is my message to aliens. If you are a desirable alien, welcome. If you are an undesirable alien, say your act of contrition, because I know what you're doing, and I'm going to get you!”

(At a TV interview, shortly after assuming her post as Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation.)

“I got the message, they are out to get me. The response is: gentlemen, make my day!”

(To a group of newsmen wishing to know if she felt intimidated by the alien criminal syndicates.)


“Gentlemen, I respectfully submit that if, after this dissertation, anyone still persists in opposing the alien legalization program, he must be suffering from low IQ!"

(While testifying before the Senate committee on justice, in defense of the alien legalization program which she authored.)

“It looks like there's a rocky road ahead for the alien legalization program, despite its obvious merits. It will reduce graft in CID, earn billions of pesos for the national treasury, and focus limited law enforcement resources on alien syndicates specializing in heinous crimes, like drug pushing or pedophilia But I failed to convince the Senate, possibly because the IQ in this room is higher than in the entire Senate combined!”

(At a press conference with the CID press corps.)

“I will defend the alien legalization program, even if enemies stage demonstrations against me. The program is necessary, beneficial, and practical. I will not be dissuaded, even if my opponents start running around naked in Metro Manila!”

(Emerging grim-faced from her office as Commissioner.)


“The cabinet is afflicted with a dreaded disease. It is known as logorrhea, or incoherent talking.”

(After the President announced a program of measures to improve cabinet performance and cut costs, most of which had been proposed earlier by Miriam.)

“Congress and the cabinet are talking at cross-purposes. We are trapped in a political Tower of Babel. Our national leaders are accursed by glossolalia, or talking in different tongues.”

(When the Senate first began to oppose her alien legalization program.)

“Some of them are devotees to a cult of self-praise. I refused to join that hallelujah chorus!”

(To a newsman's question of why some of her cabinet colleagues accused her of aloofness.)

“There is a scam in Malacañang. A cabal in the cabinet are selling the transcripts of cabinet meetings and they are circulated abroad. This is a scam, because most of the transcripts are worthless, considering that the contents are nothing but garbage.”

(At a radio interview, after returning from abroad.)


“I am prepared to dance the dance of the seven veils!”

(Just before attending her first confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments.)

“I feel like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom.”

(Entering Congress for her first confirmation hearing.)

“I have seen the future and I don't like it.”

(Emerging from her first confirmation hearing.)

“I'm hanging in there by my fingernails. My lips are at the water line.”

(Her progress report to media on her pending confirmation.)

“If I don't get confirmed, I intend to stop inflicting myself on the public. I intend to stay home and learn how to crochet. I'll sit on a rocker, and watch my garden grown.”

(After the Commission bypassed her appointment.)

“I did not want to be Secretary of Agrarian Reform. I am not comfortable in the cabinet. Which post would I prefer? (Laughing.) Maybe I should be Secretary of National Defense, but I worry that I might precipitate a civil war.”

(Engaging in banter with the media, before a press conference.) .

“I was absent at the last hearing, because I had to undergo a previously scheduled executive check-up at the Heart Center. It did not mean apathy about my confirmation. It only proves I am not immortal.

“Oh yes, I got a clean bill of health. I am disgustingly healthy.”

(After missing a session of the Commission on Appointments.)

“I was accused of almost every crime under the Penal Code, except adultery. At malapit na rin kaming dumating doon.”

(Explaining why confirmations hearings could be oppressive.)

"Sir, you have the grin of Garfield the cat."

(To a member of the Commission, referring to a popular comic-strip character.)

“I am surrounded by idiots.”

(Overheard, while being questioned by several members of the Commission, whereupon she opened her paperback A Brief History of Time, and proceeded to read it as an act of spite against her tormentors. The book is about quantum physics. The photo of Miriam reading the paperback at the confirmation hearing was published on the front page of a metropolitan newspaper.)



(Of a certain congressman who delivered a privileged speech against her in the House of Representatives. Miriam's phrase delighted the nation, and he never lived it down.)

“Pinaliwanag ko na, ayaw niyang makinig. Eh, kung hahamunin ko na lang siya ng suntukan?”

(Of the same congressman.)

“In the spirit of Holy Week, which is approaching, I amend my previous offer to fight. Instead, I challenge him to take an IQ test with me in UP!”

(Of the same congressman. Miriam was a UP honor graduate and law professor there.)

“He is suffering from mental AIDS and needs a frontal lobotomy!”

(Of another congressman who included her in his attack on the Aquino administration.)

“The member of Congress treated me like an undesirable alien!”

(To the same question, asked during an open forum at a joint meeting of Jaycee Clubs.)

“Matapang silang manira sa akin. Pero wala namang matapang sa kanilang kalabanin ang mga sindikato. Alam naman natin, asawa lang nila, takot na sila, sindikato pa kaya?”

(Her reaction to members of Congress delivering privileged speeches against her and invoking parliamentary immunity.)

“There's no intelligent life down here. Beam me up, Scotty.”

(While riding the elevator in Congress, using a common expression in the popular TV series Star Trek.)


“They should be chopped into a thousand pieces and fed to the sharks in Manila Bay. But it is problematic whether the sharks will eat them, out of a sense of professional courtesy!”

(At a televised speech before a convention of doctors, referring to a few CID employees who took out newspaper advertisements demanding her ouster.)

“Go stick your finger in the wall socket!”

(At a TV talk show, in answer to the question: “What is your response to the demand for your ouster by a few CID employees?”)

“Those crooks exhibit the epidermis of pachyderms. But I am prepared to fight them. I have cultivated intestinal fortitude.”

(Of CID employees who announced they would stage a demonstration and burn her effigy.)

“I will rub their noses in the mud, for mud is their natural habitat.”

(Of certain CID employees conspiring to invent charges against her.)

“This is the concrete jungle, populated by savages. They are no longer bound by any canon of civilized conduct.”

(After a few CID employees whom she disciplined for graft hired squatters to stage a demonstration and burn her effigy. One of the squatters complained that he did not get paid.)

“Discombobulated moral retardates!”

(Of a few Department of Agrarian Reform employees who, upon her assumption to office after the Garchitorena land overpricing anomaly, immediately organized against her.)

“I will exterminate them from the face of the earth!”

(When told that crooks in the DAR were preparing to oppose her tenure as Secretary.)

“Those crooks, those criminals do not blush, do not suffer any shame or embarrassment peddling outright lies. And I thought that this is a Christian country where it's a sin to tell a lie.”

(Referring to a media blitz against her.)

“Of the total population of crooks and criminals in this country, one-half are pickpockets and the other half are holduppers!”

(After recounting a humorous anecdote during her tenure as a trial judge, when she tried a case for armed robbery against a holdupper, who pleaded innocent by claiming he was only a pickpocket.)


“I eat death threats for breakfast!”

(To a journalist’s question: “What is your reaction to the many death threats received by your office?”)

“Death is only a state of thermodynamic equilibrium!”

(Before a congregation of nuns and other members of the religious.)

“It is not important to ask, ‘Will the CID Commissioner die a premature death?’ No, the more important question is: ‘Is there sex after death?’”

(To a question during an open forum at an inter-city Rotarian meeting.)

“As a doctor of laws, I have researched the question and shall now proceed to share the answer with you. Is there sex after death? Answer: Yes, but you cannot feel anything!”

(To a follow-up question at the same open forum: “Could you please tell us if there is sex after death?”)

“I have no intention of floating in the Pasig River!”

(To a question in an open forum of the Lions Club: “Are you looking after your personal security?”)

“The alien suspect claims he is ill and might die under detention. I assume full responsibility. If he dies, I shall probably be assassinated. Then we shall see each other in the next life and settle scores there!”

(To a journalist's question: “Are you willing to assume responsibility if this alien dies under detention?” referring to the celebrated arrest and deportation of an alien wanted by Interpol. The Supreme Court eventually upheld Commissioner Santiago, and the alien lived to go to jail in Hongkong.)

“I am not afraid of death threats, but I am appalled that so many people are capable of so much wrong spelling and fractured grammar!”

(To a question during an open forum at a convention of nurses: “Are you not afraid of death threats?”)

“Kung papatayin man nila ako, mumultuhin ko sila!”

(To a question during a radio interview.)

“I refuse to die at the hands of those intellectual pygmies!”

(Of alien criminal syndicates reportedly putting out contracts for her assassination.)

“I have no regrets. I tried to raise the consciousness of the Filipinos on the need to fight graft. The accident affects only my mortal body. It is a small price to pay for this good fight. I wish for my people to continue with the will to win.”

(Handwritten statement after sustaining near-fatal injuries in a highway collision that left her car a total wreck in 1991. Covered with blood, she was airlifted by helicopter from Tarlac to Manila, and on media request wrote this message at the back of her x-ray plate folder, inside the ambulance.)

“As the poet said, because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me. But as another poet said, although the woods are lovely, dark, and deep, I have miles to go before I sleep. As God has seen fit to spare of my life, I am committed to the pursuit of His justice, including the crusade against graft and corruption.

“No, there is nothing wrong with the shape of my legs. The bruises will heal in time. Come with me to Boracay Island within this month, so you can inspect the evidence. Res ipsa loquitur (Things speak for themselves).

“I do not intend to accommodate the political vultures who are waiting for me to give up. Never!”

(Handwritten answer to a media questionnaire submitted while she was hospitalized after the accident. Boracay Island is a world-famous beach resort, and Miriam's favorite place for swimming.)

“No, I don’t want to watch these clowns. I die a thousand deaths every time a corrupt politician appears.”

(Handwritten instructions to an aide who asked if Miriam wanted to watch a TV talk show, while hospitalized for the same accident.)

“I defy all this pain! I stand on my head and maybe contemplate my navel.”

(Handwritten note to her family after a painful session at the operating room for injuries caused by the same accident.)

“On the operating table, I seriously considered a breast implant.”

(On a TV talk show in 1991.)


“They have all the intelligence of political cockroaches.”

(Before a joint meeting of Rotary Clubs, referring to certain presidential candidates whom she claimed to be financing a media blitz against her.)

“Miserable little intellectual amoeba!”

(Before a joint meeting of Jaycees Clubs, referring to paid members of PR firms carrying out the media blitz against her.)

“They are already salivating at the thought of becoming President.”

(Of presidential contenders plotting against her after she left government.)

“They met in the dead of night to plot against me, which is perfectly natural, for darkness is their natural habitat.”

(Of a "demolition crew" formed by a congressional leader and presidential candidate to launch a smear campaign against her.)

“He sounds like he is suffering from dyspepsia!”

(Of a mayor who made side remarks against her upon her arrival in his city.)

“I will not spend my adult life answering obviously false charges. But I will exert every effort to resist the charge that I lack sex appeal.”

(Of the charges filed against her by several CID employees whom she disciplined for graft and corruption.)

“That is the arrogance of power, the arrogance of the intellectual bonzai.”

(Of politicians making side remarks about her performance as a public official, claiming she is not a team player.)

“I predict that when the Supreme Court decides the pending case against him, he will have egg all over his face.”

(Of a public official who resented it when Miriam said his move to make a mass removal of government employees was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court eventually held so, proving Miriam was right.)

“I challenged him to a debate in UP or Ateneo campus. His reply was that he cannot debate with women. I asked around, and I learned that he cannot debate with men, either. In short, he simply cannot debate.”

(Of the same public official.)

“He is suffering from verbal diarrhea!”

(Of a public official who, while still in the process of investigating charges filed against her, kept on issuing press releases implying she was guilty.)

“Gusto ko sanang makipagkaibigan. Pero kung lalabanan ninyo ako, di subukan natin at tingnan kung sinong mauuna sa atin sa Intensive Care Unit!”

(At a CID flag-raising ceremony.)

“Yes, I go to mass everyday. Sometimes I pray that God might turn my enemies into pillars of salt.”

(At a speech before nuns.)

“Since you apparently refuse to get the point, I would be happy to educate you.”

(To a hostile TV talk show panel host.)


“You are about to witness a trial judge committing parricide with her bare hands!”

(To her son Archie, when he received two failing marks in Grade 6, because of adjustment problems after schooling in Geneva, Switzerland, where she worked with the United Nations. Archie recounted this incident in his article, “My Mom” published in the Sunday Standard magazine.)

“I am suffering from battle fatigue. I am catatonic with exhaustion. I can no longer distinguish my husband from the living room furniture!”

(Describing how difficult it is to fight graft and corruption.)

“I do not have any strong desire to remain in government. When my task is done, I shall be happy to leave and enhance my lovelife with my husband.”

(Discussing with the press her hopes to retire early.)

“I wish I had a daughter. I will have to exert myself in that direction, because my family is underpopulated.”

(At the same press conference.)

“Alexander, finish your dinner, or I'll prove to you that God exists!”

(To her son Alexander Robert, when he was six years old, and during her stint as Immigration Commissioner she went home late and found him still at dinner. As a dilatory tactic, he attempted conversation by saying: “Mom, I've lost my faith in God. The problem is that there is no proof.” [This was recounted by Archie to a journalist.])


“This is goodbye. I shall not importune you any longer. I shall fade into the night like Batman.”

(At her last press conference as Secretary of Agrarian Reform.)


“Freeze! Come out with your hands in the air, and I'll hold my fire.”

(At a Malacañang press conference, answering a newsman’s question: “What is your message as Secretary to the DAR employees involved in the land overpricing anomaly?”)

“I shall expect the landlords to cooperate with the agrarian reform program. Right now, it looks like I’m headed for One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

(Upon the President’s announcement of her appointment as Secretary, using the title of a book by Nobel prizewinner Gabriel Garcia Marquez.)

“Head-bashing is the best strategy. Sometimes I have to splatter their brains on the pavement.”

(After she was asked for the best way to fight graft.)

“The fixer is a person who nominally looks like a human being. But he specializes in creating misery for others, in order that he can offer to fix it for a fee.”

(Explaining to the CID press corps why she banned fixers at CID and ordered their mass arrest.)


“My management style? Spiritual fortitude, intellectual scholarship, and, (smiling) if all else fails, physical violence might prove salutary.”

(After winning the Magsaysay Award for government service.)

“They were not only rebellious, they were malicious to boot. Naturally I got mad, but I restrained myself. No, I did not throw a chair at my employees. (Laughing) The accurate statement is that I may have rearranged the furniture.”

(After scolding a few employees who declared their intention to have her removed from the CID.)

“I’m very results-oriented, and I do have a kamikaze attitude. I don't care if I go down in flames, as long as my enemies and I go down in flames together. Or maybe you can call it the Samson-in-the-temple syndrome. I don't care if I destroy myself, as long as I destroy the temple of corruption. That would be a definite service to the community, don't you think?”

(In a magazine cover story.)

“Tinawag ko ang lahat na CID intelligence agents. Tinuruan ko ng immigration law. Dinala ko sa CID Detention Center. Sabi ko: ‘Nakita ninyo itong kulungan? Sa ilalim ng batas, ang katungkulan natin ay punuin ang kulungan na ito. Kasya ang 50 na bilanggo pero ngayon ang laman ay limang dayuhan lang. Araw ng Lunes ngayon. Sa Biyernes, pag wala pang laman yan, kayo ang ilalagay ko diyan!”

(At a student convocation at the Ateneo de Manila University, explaining how she motivated CID intelligence agents to post a record high in the number of alien criminal suspects arrested and deported.)


“Entering politics is a fate worse than death.”

(In 1988 at a CID press conference, when asked for the first time if she planned to run for president.)

“I have only entertainment value in Philippine politics.”

(In 1988 during an interview with a foreign journalist.)

“This is the politics of cannibalism! We need a new politics, the politics of synergism.”

(In 1989, after the Commission of Appointments bypassed for the first time her confirmation as a cabinet member.)

“Barring public demand, any person who pursues the presidency out of personal ambition must be suffering from a basic genetic defect.”

(In a 1989 magazine interview.)

“Itong mga kalaban kong mahilig sa intriga ay hinahamon ako. Patutunayan ko na ang tunay na Pilipino, pag hinahamon, hindi umuurong!”

(In 1990, after the President accepted her resignation, amid rumors of her alleged sympathy for military rebels, which she denied.)

“My ambition is more modest. I desire only to be known as the Demi Moore of Philippine politics.”

(After she first topped a presidential survey.)

“I am seriously contemplating entry into politics, for the pleasure of educating the non-educable.”

(In 1990, after certain politicians reportedly ordered a smear campaign against her.)

“Hindi ko susundin ang gusto nila! Ano sila, sinusuwerte?”

(Reacting to the proposal by a group of politicians hostile to her that she should not run for president, but only for vice-president or senator.)

“I do not subscribe to the school of thought that I am leading the presidential polls because of my beautiful legs.”

(After topping most presidential surveys in 1990.)

“Three factors are necessary for victory in the presidential polls: popularity, funding, and a political party. We have met all three.

“According to media reports, I have topped over a dozen presidential surveys, including a nationwide survey by Social Weather Stations, Inc. Because I am number one in the polls, the traditional sources of funding in the business community are making pledges of financial contributions, consonant with the Election Code. And I have filed a petition for registration with the Comelec of the People's Reform Party.

“It's all systems go! After all, (smiling) the psychics and fortune-tellers in Asia have only one, consistent prediction to make for our country in 1992 – that the next president of the Philippines will be another woman!”

(At a press interview, when journalists asked her to assess her chances as a presidential candidate.)

“First you say that I have a brilliant resume and an impressive track record. But then you propose that I should not run for president, but only for vice-president. Clearly, your conclusion does not follow your own premise. And you justify this illogic by claiming that I would be cheated by my rivals as a presidential candidate, so I should settle for becoming a vice-presidential candidate instead.

“Sir, if the rest of humankind had adopted your line of thinking, we would never have reached the moon, scaled Mt. Everest, or learned to fly. For in all these daring enterprises, people who should have known better said it could not be done.

“When I went to the CID to fight graft and corruption, the cynics also said it could not be done. But a person’s reach must exceed her grasp, or what’s a heaven for?

“Why did Sir Edmund Hillary climb Mt. Everest? Because it is there. Why am I fighting graft and corruption? Because it is here!

“That's why I'm running for president, and for no other post.”

(Answer at an open forum hosted by the Association of International College Women, who gave her a standing ovation.)

“Pinagmamalaki nila na dadayain daw nila ako sa halalan. Pinag-aralan ko na ang problema, at handa na kami. Subukan nilang mandaya, at makikita nila ang hinahanap nila!"

(Upon filing the petition for registration with the Comelec of the People’s Reform Party.)

"Itong mga kalaban natin, kapag madilim na ang Metro Manila, nagsisipagbangon sila sa mga kabaong nila, lumilipad sa kabilugan ng buwan, nagkakalat ng kanilang mga lagim!"

(In a speech before peasants and the urban poor.)


“I refuse to surrender to the cynics who claim that to reform Philippine society is ‘mission impossible.’ In the CID, by the grace of God and with the help of all the fine Filipino men and women, I am proud to tell you – we did the impossible!”

(Speech before the employees of the Public Information Agency, subsequently aired over radio networks.)

“The mathematician said: ‘Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth.’ We shall move this earth, and we shall reform this country. All that I need is not a place to stand, but one moment in time.”

(At a commencement speech, using the title of the hit theme song of the 1988 Olympic Games.)

“We shall effect a turnaround in the culture of corruption. We shall energize ourselves by our own inner, moral strength. We shall plug into a power base consisting of the best and the highest values of the Filipino character.

“My countrymen, all that you need is to believe in yourselves! Have faith in the Filipino!”

(An excerpt of her famous extemporaneous oration during her 1990 speaking tour of the country, credited with elevating her to the top of the presidential polls.)

“The operative word is courage. What this country needs is the will to win. I challenge you to help me to twist the tail of the cosmos. I call on the youth to help me repair the moral damage on our nation.”

(First delivered before 1,000 cadets of the Philippine Military Academy, and subsequently became the standard conclusion of her extemporaneous speeches before the student assemblies.)


“When I was a schoolgirl, I wanted to be a nun. I would have taken the threefold vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

“But I had to abandon that ambition, because we were poor. As the eldest child, I had to help send my six brothers and sisters to college.

“Anyway, as CID Commissioner, I am living the life of a nun. My salary is very low, only P12,000 a month, and so in effect I have taken a vow of poverty. I am a lowly subordinate of the President, so I owe her the vow of obedience. And because I am too busy fighting criminal syndicates, I have no time left for my husband. So in effect I have taken the vow of chastity!

(At a national convention of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate.)

“By the grace of God and with the help of our friends in the international community, we shall, at the end of this long and tortuous road, claim our just victory; for surely, the Infinite Administrator, even now, arranges the universe, in order that immutable good shall triumph over the vincible forces of evil.”

(Speech upon accepting the Magsaysay Award for government service, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize.) .

“President Aquino has the patience of a Tibetan monk sitting on top of Mt. Everest, contemplating infinity.”

(On a TV talk show in 1990.)


“Tangkaan na nila na ang buhay ko. Siraan na nila ng siraan ang pangalan ko. Basta hindi ako aalis sa gobyerno natin. Hindi ako hihinto. Hindi ako uurong. Hindi ako susuko. Dahil ano sila, sinusuwerte?”

(After a public relations firm placed print ads using the names of a few CID employees to call for her removal from government.)

“The chances of me quiting are like the chances of a snowball in hell.”

(To a few DAR employees who threatened to oppose her confirmation.)


“My public life closely resembles the popular science-fiction trilogy on screen, consisting of the movies entitled ‘Star Wars,’ followed by ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ and ending with ‘The Return of the Jedi.’

“In seeking to change the culture of corruption, I have to fight willy-nilly the superstars of the political underworld in this country. Although I am a definite underdog, I am not afraid of those corrupt superstars. Thus, the first chapter of my life should be entitled ‘Star Wars.’

“Because I was able to conscienticize the public about corrupt politics, my enemies sought to avenge themselves. They refused to confirm me in the Commission on Appointments, until I was removed from the Cabinet. My enemies posted that evil victory, but until now they do not stop. Although already a private citizen, when I started leading the presidential surveys, they paid for a diabolic media blitz against me. Thus, the second chapter of my life should be entitled ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’

“But we have not seen the end of this trilogy. For life, like theology, consists of the unceasing battle between good and evil. In the movie trilogy, the forces of good were called Jedi, while the forces of evil were called the Empire. I have no doubt that, in the end, the forces of evil in Philippine politics will triumph. Thus, I promise you, the third chapter of our life together shall be entitled ‘The Return of the Jedi.’”

(From a speech at the St. Louis University gymnasium in Baguio City where over 5,000 students gave her a standing ovation, presaging her phenomenally popular campus tour of the country, and prompting media to call her “the new campus heroine.”)

“I have no strong desire to remain in government, and I have no personal preference for any government post. But if you insist I prefer to collect garbage in Metro Manila.”

(On repeated questioning by a congressman during a committee hearing on what government post she prefers.)


“When the government employee is poor, and he works in a corrupt agency, he can resist everything except temptation.”

(At a student convocation at the University of the Philippines.)

“The Manila Polo Club is too aesthetic for immigration officers.”

(As guest of honor at the induction ceremonies of the Immigration Officers Association held in 1988 at the Manila Polo Club in posh Forbes Park, the country's wealthiest neighborhood. She reprimanded the Association members for ostentation, and thereafter some Association officers sought to retaliate by calling for her removal.)

“I defy my enemies. I challenge them: Do your worst, and I shall do my best! And we shall let the Filipino judge.”

(At a student convocation at the University of Santo Tomas.)


“I’m glad swimming is my hobby, because the CID is populated by sharks.”

(During a media interview. She was a high school swimming champion.)

“I’m surprised the photographer used that shot. He and I had an agreement that he would take shots of me swimming in the pool. I followed all his instructions, exactly as if I were a trained dolphin.”

(Explaining the publication in a metropolitan newspaper of her controversial photo in a bathing suit.)

“Nandiyan na yan, kasama sa trabaho. Siguro mabuti na ngang lumabas yung litratong yon, dahil diyan mapapatunayan na pag sinabi ko ang vital statistics ko, totoo! Patunay na akong tao, hindi sinungaling, hindi kamukha ng mga kalaban ko!”

(Laughing at the same photo.)




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