Welcome to the last H-Files episode of the season, featuring spooky stories from families around the world! Today on the show, we interview Mélissa Lesnie, Parisian jazz singer and street performer.

Episode Summary

Mélissa tells us a fish-out-of-water tale about visiting family in the Philippines after growing up Filipino-Australian. Hear a new take on the now-familiar manananggal and duwende. Also, hear about how the third eye might be able to help Mélissa’s mom make sense of some strange occurrences. Then, learn about a new-to-us Filipino concept to watch out for: budol-budol. But most importantly, why did Sponge Bob bite Tita Ava?

Above: the process video of the illustration accompanying this video.

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About Mélissa Lesnie

Mélissa currently lives in Paris, France. However, she grew up in Sydney, Australia. But her mother’s family is originally from Batangas, in the Philippines. She is a street artist who got into singing American jazz out of a home-sickness for her native tongue. She is the vocalist on the album “Starlit Hour” and in many other performances. From her Bandcamp profile: “Mélissa studied Musicology at the Sydney Conservatorium before moving to Paris. She relishes the Great American Songbook and swing repertoire, connecting with her audience through good old-fashioned storytelling and a delicately spun musical phrase”. Who better, then, to tell us some spooky cultural stories?

Photograph of Melissa Lesnie, jazz singer and guest who shares her spooky stories for this episode.
Mélissa Lesnie, jazz singer, performing on stage

Episode Show Notes

What is Budol-Budol?

It’s always good to have family around to look out for you when you’re in a new place. Mélissa tells us how she was nearly charmed by what her cousins warned her was actually a nefarious man. Not a creature this time, budol-budol is a scam involving hypnosis and counterfeiting. People who deal with money in a bustling, distracting environment (shop keepers, for example) are common targets. Do the budol-budol gang get their powers from witchcraft, or skilled mentalism? To be sure, many victims feel as though they were supernaturally compelled.

Mélissa’s Lola, or grandmother, who would have been 95 when this episode aired.

How to Appease an Offended Duwende

Mélissa reminds us that, in Fililpino culture, there’s one surefire way to smooth over any scenario: food! Duwende are similar to gnomes or leprechauns. These underground little folk get offended when trampled. Best to leave an offering, just in case! Local noms mentioned include pancit (which Diana had a dream about after this recording) and jackfruit.

If you’ve never had a jackfruit, you simply must. It’s an adventure! Jackfruit are enormous, spiky green globes that dangle precariously from tall trees. Nicknamed “tree pineapple,” they have a tangy tropical flavor. Vegans stew the flesh of young jackfruit as a substitute for pulled pork. But the most shocking thing about jackfruit is cutting one open. Do it outside with a knife you’re ready to throw away. Trust us. Because the inside is literally full of glue.

Nice Job If You Can Get It

The streets of Paris are alive with art. Diana was curious how one becomes a street performer in Paris. Believe it or not, it turns out there may be programs to help with that process. Furthermore, if you’re an American artist facing hard times during the pandemic, there is aid for you as well. If you’re looking for an artist to aid, soutenez-nous sur Patreon, s’il vous plaît! 😉

We hope you’ve enjoyed this side quest to bring you more spooky family stories. Until next time, have a spooky day!