When I was five I’ve always imagined climbing a very high ladder so I’d be able to go above the clouds– see Jesus riding the clouds and the angels flying around, and I’d wander around the sea that pours the rain to our land. Simple thoughts. I remember thinking about it over and over again until I saw it in my dreams. There, I’d swim in the sea, talk to the angels, and live my own storybook. A child’s mind is really limitless. Always curious, always imaginative, always looking for answers to questions that are out of logic.
Later on I discovered science. I realized that the ladder wasn’t such a good idea. These thoughts faded through the years. When we moved to the mountains, I’ve been seeing clouds lower than me but the stars didn’t seem any bigger. The sun was still the same and Jesus was not around anywhere.
I’ve been hiking lately. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded with people who are eager to deal with my spontaneous plans of going anywhere in the wild. At first it was for experience. After all, it’s all about experience. I was passive at first, just trying to finish a course.
Hikes went by and it started growing in me. ‘This is the ladder.‘ — I’d say to myself. Deep inside of me, there is still the child that wonders if he’ll ever see Jesus riding the clouds with his angels. Hiking became rather life-changing.
A few years ago, I stressed myself with my first work in Manila, that was, a multimedia artist. Every day, I delt with video editing, photography, graphic design, and everything in between. 24 hours wasn’t enough. It affected me, it narrowed my sight, I easily got upset when it rained when I was on my way home, I cursed traffic, I lost some attachments, I lost myself.
Eventually that job ended. It felt bad but there’s something in me that was smiling. That was a blessing in disguise.
I became a church person after that. I’ve always prayed for a job that would give me professional advantages and at the same time a comfort that all of us are looking for (but seldom found). January 2012 I received a job offer from a leading company in publications. Thank God!
My workmates love the outdoors as well so we easily connect with things that I enjoy. Hence the hiking.
There’s this certain scream of excitement I feel every now and then. A certain calling from the wild waiting to be heard. It’s quite amazing that I’ve learned so much from a couple of hikes than a hundred of weeks in the office. Whenever I hear this call, the road has always led to the mountains.
The mountains have taught me about perspective– that things’ value depend on how we see them. Big or small, near or far; perspective that explained that when it rains in the city, all I have to do is climb up the top and see the rain from a distance while basking in the sun. It was clearly implied that going to the mountains lets you see life from a point of someone who have a 360 degree viewing angle, it has taught me of open-mindedness.
The mountains have taught me about limits. I’m not really going to see Jesus sooner or later. That’s a fact. But the climb to the top makes it feel all the more possible. It’s like I am few steps closer to all the things I do not know but should know. I started ignoring thirst and fatigue, I tried conquering them. Rest for five minutes and then we resume. I learned to push limits to see how far I can go, to see where I’m not supposed to go, and to know the precise difference between the two.
The mountains have taught me about fear. At first I thought that I should be fearless, literally. But I was all wrong. Fear should be in me. It should stay with me forever because it keeps me cautious, it keeps one foot ready to step back, it keeps me awake, and most importantly, alive. However, I learned that with every bit of fear I feel out there should be challenged with twice the wonder. A certain assurance to myself that what i risk is no more than gift that’s waiting at the end of the road.
The mountains have taught me about redemption. A healing. It has taught me of our innate desire to be in nature– a place not arranged by man’s hand. The mountains heal us and restore balance in our mind. It’s like a rain washing the dirt from a leaf on a sunny day. While sweating on the way, the mountains restore our losses and give us something that only us can explain. All we have to do is let it change us in a way that no other place can.
The mountains have taught me about love. A love for nature, a love for friendships and camaraderie, a love for strangers, a love for discovery, and a love for myself.
In three years I plan to go to the top of the Philippines and many more mountains. I want to tell friends and family the glories of my journey. In the future, I want to tell my children that long before they were born, they’ve already seen the sun from a place that not everyone goes to, slept in the cool breeze of Amihan, swam in blue rivers, and chased every burning sunsets. I want them to have the blood attached to the wilderness and a blood that’s always eager to learn.
A child’s mind really is limitless.
Always curious, always imaginative, always looking for answers to questions that are out of logic.
I am forever a child.
We left the pouring rain in Manila as we started seeing few lights illuminating the dark streets of Siem Reap from the airplane window. We landed– all anticipating the next three days to come. I filled my feet with energy as I set foot on a foreign land for the first time. Absorbing the warm air of Cambodia, I knew we were up for a great discovery.
Siem Reap is like a province in the Philippines. Simple life, trees all around, and loaded with kind people. From where I saw it, both countries have a culture that revolves around the living and the dead. However there are also differences. Filipinos are better at English, that’s for sure. I think only two out of ten of the people we talked to understood us. We had a hard time explaining our orders when dining, asking for directions, or barely dealing with vendors. They are however more committed to preserving their environment. They keep the streets clean. Their main means of transportation is biking so you won’t be seeing a lot of cars belching smoke that makes it uneasy to breathe. They are calm people. One day would feel so long that we were able to do a lot. Being from fast-paced Manila, their calm environment greatly affected the way we dealt with our itinerary.
What else to do in Siem Reap but to have your ultimate real-life temple run? Months before this trip I already promised myself to have all the energy to conquer it. It was easier said than done but I did it. However, it really required patience, ice-cold waters, double-the-dim shades, and some great desire for adventure. Instead of availing the cheaper tour packages, I convinced my friends to just do it ourselves– own itinerary, own bookings, and own responsibilities. It always feel right to have it that way. Getting lost in another place is a great way of discovery, thus, achieving our goal of exploring Siem Reap.
We first went to Angkor Thom, a group of temples in a land area greater than that of Angkor Wat. At the entrance it was already fantastic. We saw the intricate details of the statues, their symmetry, and the consistency.
Also, we were amazed by the way the temples were built– layers or rock forming great architectures. I imagined myself looking at the pyramids in Egypt. Just a friendly reminder, do not miss your chance to have a temple run picture (Baphuon Temple).
I also wondered how were they able to do it, and the sci-fi lover in me kicked in as I recalled a concept from Fringe. Maybe the people who did these are those from the future way ahead of us. Maybe they are so advanced they traveled back in time to construct these temples and pretended to be the first people. Ha-ha. Anyways, that didn’t last for long because what the Bayon Temple offered didn’t end there. We went to Ta Prohm where Angelina Jolie did her Tomb Raider. The giant roots crunching the temples are iconic so do not miss the photo ops.
The beauty continued all through out the Angkor Thom, and other temples leading to Angkor Wat, the most awaited.
Angkor Wat is a one-temple complex embraced by a body of water making it like the main castle in the entire temple city. It’s really big for a temple but no part of it was taken for granted. The carvings on the wall was really great. It stretched meters and the consistency was there. The depth of carving was impressive and the depiction was clear enough for viewers to appreciate.
Going inside, we saw the stairways and many more surprises the Angkor Wat had to offer. We sat at the stairway at the rear part of the temple and rested for a while as we plan our next stop.
After the temples, we headed to Phnom Bakheng for sunset. Unfortunately, there was just a hype on the sunset. Our tuktuk driver told us to get up the hill early so we can have a good spot for sunset viewing but it’s not really a one-of-a-kind sunset. There wasn’t much view and the trees were all blocking the whole panorama. I guess it’s safe to say that you go to Siem Reap for the sunrise.
Our Tuktuk driver also took us to the Killing Fields, he told us bits of information about it. It was a sad time for them. Killing civilians in a hole was just heartbreaking.
Not long after, we headed to a buffet restaurant to watch Cambodia’s traditional dance, the Apsara. The food in Cambodia wasn’t really good for me. There’s just something lacking, or at times excessive. I had to pick some conventional foods to balance it and also to avoid some stomach issues. Also, do not order iced tea. It didn’t even get close to what iced tea should taste like. Wasted $1.5 for that.
The dance was rather slow and boring, however, I really appreciated the small details in their dance, like the hand movements and balance. I realized that I really love Philippines’ snappy folk dances— those are the bombs.
On the second day, we woke up at 4 AM and left the hotel around 5:30 AM for the sunrise in Angkor Wat. Boy! You just gotta see it.
It took quite long for the sun to come out but it will always be worth it. Imagine, the people before built this to see the sun win over the moon everyday. It was magical to see the sun peeking from behind one of the towers. We were already starving so we had our take-outs because we’re leaving for a long trip to the Banteay Srei, the temple of Women.
Before reaching Banteay Srei, we stopped over Pre Rup, a temple which is quite different in terms of design. It’s tall and very majestic-looking. It’s very compact and the reddish tone was a sign that we’re really headed to the Pink Temple. Later on, we passed by Maebon which looked like Pre Rup.
Twenty minutes after Pre Rup, we reached Banteay Srei. this Temple is quite special because it’s isolated. There are shopping stalls around and comfort rooms. Because it’s distant, people are more tempted to go for it so there’s a lot of tourists there. As we were too excited to be there, we ended up being stressed up by the heat and the amount of people. So we took some pictures, and left after few minutes. I gotta say though, the art of Banteay Srei really represents the women.
Another highlight of the day is Neak Pean. A small temple at the end of a long wooden bridge surrounded by water. It’s a very relaxed one. It even felt like autumn and on the end of the wooden bridge, very small leaves are floating on the water making the waters look like a smooth cream of pistachio. The temple looks like a fountain of life.
See the green water behind us? Pistachio! We passed by one or two more temples and then headed to Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Center where we achieved a degree of Angkorian Potter. No kidding! We even got certificates. We had to do this the second day because the delivery of our outputs will be within 24 hours after the class.
After ceramics, we dropped by a restaurant to take-away (yes, you’ve read it right, that’s their term) a happy pizza. Certainly, it met our high standards.
We had dinner at Pub Street and then went home to rest. We woke up 4 AM again for the sunrise in Sas Srang– The Royal bath. It’s right in front of our favorite temple pronunciation — Banteay Kdei.
After this we went back to the hotel for breakfast, swimming, and then shopping at the old market for souvenirs. When shopping, you can get 3 magnets/keychains for $1. That’s super cheap already. One tip, try walking out when you don’t get a lower price. It worked 5 out of 6 times for me. They’ll give in eventually but most of them have no patience for buyers. They always expect you to buy immediately.
We also biked around town. It was very tiring but worth the effort. At 6:30 PM our tuktuk driver fetched us and brought us to the airport for our flight back. You can also drop by KFC to buy some food, their chicken is delicious.
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I’ve read a quote just when we were about to go to Siem Reap.
“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again”
When we travel, we have to leave our lives behind, for a while. It helps to have full abandon. As we go, we start to take greater responsibilities and greater learning. That’s what it’s all about. At times many would say, it’s not about finding yourself, but creating yourself, what they don’t understand is that some people find happiness outside the confines of his house, outside his circle of friends, outside his normal plate of breakfast, outside his ceiling of stars. Sometimes people find home outside what everyone thinks is his home. That’s why we wander I guess– to discover, and to realize the things you’ve always wanted is there, somewhere out there. These things will change us and eventually give a big contribution to our life decisions.
So go ahead and see the world. It’s waiting.
I took time to write this post because I miss Siem Reap already. I left a piece of me in there and that’s just wonderful.
Travel details & Tips:
Airline: Cebu Pacific (MLA-REP) vv
Hotel: Rithy Rine Angkor Hotel, $90 good for 3 , 3N3D, Buffet Breakfast, free pickup from airport, wifi everywhere
TukTuk: $78 dollars (including tip). Can be lowered down to 58$ = 3days
email firstname.lastname@example.org for your tuktuk service
While Google maps and other temple maps on the internet may be helpful, there are certain routes which are more applicable than you think. Here’s our itinerary as fixed by our driver.
Angkor Thom. Takeo. Thommanon. Chau Say Tevoda Temple. Bantey Kdei. Sah Srang Royal Bath. Ta Phrom. Angkor Wat (inside). Phnom Bakheng. Wat Thmey. Apsara.
Angkor Wat (outside) sunrise. Pre Rup. Bantay Srei. Ta Som. Neak Pean. Prasat Preah Khan. Happy pizza. Pub Street. Angkor What?
Sah Srang Royal Bath sunrise. Blue Pumpkin. Old Market. Biking. Airport
Yesterday I watched the news. I realized that I’ve been disregarding it for several weeks because of one main reason– travel; the same reason why I haven’t been posting here.
There’s this news feature about a hamburger purely cultured in a lab. When the story was being introduced it felt nothing. Suddenly I was caught in the story and in my mind the TV was shouting at me.
“FOOD PRODUCED FROM A LAB!”
Science. Okay fine. I understand facts. I know that food (in this case, regular food), when broken down to its smallest particles and what-not, is just the same as that in the lab. That’s all I know and all I care about. Regarding those who protect the environment, well this is a great help, but really? Hamburger made from labs? I am a big fan of hamburgers and i indulge it a lot but not this. It’s just like those gardens and forests contained in a man-made structure. Looks natural but totally fake.
Future. While the news was on progress I was already thinking about 20 years from now. I remembered Dr. Walter Bishop (fictional character) saying that in a certain time in the future the earth has been completely inhabitable and that the observers (fictional characters with no hair) traveled back in time to prevent this from happening. Supplies went down, and they started having coffee and apple in tablets. Walnuts even meant gold.
Fictioning aside, I realized that we will reach a point in time that resources will be outnumbered by humans. I imagined the population growing so big that NASA will be forced to discover a new planet for us to relocate. I imagine a single slice of ham being shared by the wealthiest family in the world and only they will be able to procure laboratory-generated foods.
We might experience hunger in years; hunger that Katniss Everdeen have never experienced before. We might fall into the confusing realm of using all our resources to gain money and lose all our money to acquire resources– in this case, very limited resources and very expensive ones too.
Remember that this is how I see the future, some things may sound really fictional but hey, a hamburger just came out of a lab.
Finally, we might be able to prove that human is really at the top of the food chain causing predation to stop dramatically. Damn we’re good. I just hope that it does not occur to humans to create a new kind of predation, that is between all of us, no animals and plants involved, just us.
It was actually my first time to watch a documentary on a big screen. I was even hoping it would be shown for free, you know, those kind of films shown for merely charitable and awareness purposes. Yeah, well it’s not for free. My friend and I were a bit hesitant about it after reading an article yet we were more interested than any other impression we had. What started to be a grainy third-world charisma turned out to be one of the most captivating, compelling, and spine-chilling documentaries I’ve ever watched.
To summarize the film, the documentary is about the case of Chiong sisters that happened in June 1997. The two sisters were raped and murdered by a gang in which Paco Larranaga was allegedly convicted for. Paco, an individual that can be considered as one-of-the-prominent-ones, gave me some sort of relief that ‘ah, in this case, power was not able to protect him’, at least. But story went deeper. Evidences from Paco’s side proved that he wasn’t in Cebu when the crime happened, even him saying that he didn’t know the Chiong sisters to begin with. All of these were denied by the court leading them to their conviction. While Filipinos were merely waiting for a sentence of death penalty for Paco and six others, judge Ocampo declared a double life imprisonment which made the Chiong’s side cry in anger telling everyone the sentence is not enough, that justice was not yet achieved. Through it all, Paco was not given any chance to at least tell his side of the story.
There were a lot of information and angles presented coming from various sources but what stood out among all of them was that hope from Paco’s family. That kind of hope that even if it’s too little compared to the power of the Chiong family (and their connections to President Estrada), they never tried to give up. That’s why I feel a bit ashamed of giving up on little things that happen in my life. I guess they’ve earned my trust from all their statements, their consistency, and that look-and-feel in their eyes that they know Paco did not do anything. While being interviewed, all their sorrow and despair radiated throughout the cinema — that feeling of having someone you love taken away, illegally arrested, and have been deprived of his constitutional rights. All of those injustices, conquered by one single hope that one day, Paco and all the other convicted innocents will be free.
The trial of the century turned out to be a purgatory of Angels and Demons, a battle field, a judgment day, that came with its own conspiracy theories. All those people fighting for one sweet heaven that only ONE side can occupy. It was a disturbing moment. I felt pity to Paco’s family, all of them with tears holding on their eyes’ lids, all of them who was once a family free from barbed wires and prison. All my feelings for the victims’ side changed entirely. It was not really about justice after all, it went down to their desire to get rid of Paco whatever it takes (like they are the ones who framed up the whole thing). What happened next was the changing of the earlier sentence to death penalty. It was really a heart-pounding moment. Just when you thought it’s over, it’s just starting. And what little remained of them, faith came with such vigor that led to the abolition of death penalty in the Philippines by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. That! That moment sent chills down my spine, it was as if the angels prevailed with Paco’s words lingering:
“…focus on what you will do today. If you will give up, give up tomorrow…”
I throbbed and my mind shut down for a second. I learned so much that’s why I’m thankful to Michael Collins and Marty Sujyco for bringing this to the cinemas. I’ve learned that media may tell a completely biased and different story; that power can turn someone into a puppet (watch it and identify that puppet); that love is infinite; that faith and hope cannot be taken away from you; that you can’t be afraid if you are innocent; and everything you see is not what it seems.
If there’s one thing former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did good, at least for me, was the abolition of death penalty. Why? I believe that we are all humans, just humans. Whatever we achieve in life, remove it all, it doesn’t make us any different from one another. It is not ours to judge one person’s life.
It took me a while for all these to sink in, and it did. I was given a chance to relive a story that happened when I was seven years old, ignorant of a society whose justice is balanced by power and money. I witnessed the doubtful arrest, the unjust conviction, the deprivation of human rights, up to the very point that the universe conspired for his dazzling shift to Spain, his new prison and I am hoping that he’ll never give up until his last breath. Justice is still being playful to Paco today but sooner this battle will end, and I wish you that one sweet heaven you deserve.
Rating: 5 stars! Must Watch!
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Bloggers Note: The blogger feels sorry for the victims.
When 2012 started, I considered American TV shows aside from their movies. It’s not like I haven’t watched some of their shows before, it’s just that I started watching it over local shows. At first I thought I would be able to get away from it, I found myself caught in it eventually. I can in fact consider myself as someone who has a bit of crab mentality or any sort of non patriotic citizen.
And yes I am. When Filipinos talk about their works, it’s all about being good, being crafty, talented, until we run out of adjectives to describe our works leaving us with nothing but being stagnant, poor researchers, and adorable franchise whores.
For those who are witty, something’s coming. Annnnnnnnd, here it is, my are some of the American TV shows consuming most of time and cellphone battery. Most of them I have finished watching
What do they have in common? Story-wise, nothing. Production, almost everything.
American shows for me are like unending movies. They defy the limits of soap operas between movies. In the Philippines, the quality of TV series are significantly poorer than the movies, and sometimes, they both are.
When American shows present something that deals with Medicine (House), it’s hardcore medicine! When they say law, you’ll be faced by their constitution. When it’s about zombies, they cast out real zombies. When they say mystery, you’ll be lost in story finding your way to the truth, and in the end be surprised of traitors and betrayals. Even if we don’t see it, it’s obvious that there’s a real deal of research made by the writers. They act accordingly, they apply appropriate sounds, they live their roles. Here in the Philippines, when someone cries, we just have to consider it as acceptable even if its damn straight terrible. I’ve heard one time about some drama here where they’ve presented an adoption case with insufficient research, thus, confusing its viewers and alarming the concerned government agency. We have to understand that if it’s a real-life situation being portrayed, it has to be real because people believes it even if they shouldn’t. That’s just terrible.
The Americans deal with different types of story. They have different story-telling techniques, they know depths of mystery, they know how to act better, they know how to edit better. THEY! I shouldn’t be giving plus points to them because I really want to blog about how our shows and how good ours are. However it’s not the type of shows I’m looking for. We are all stranded in dramas about love, family, moral lessons. Not that it’s any bad, it just took over our lives the past decades. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something new? Something different?
The Element of Sex.
One factor that hugely differentiate our works from the Americans’ is the element of sex and vulgarity. Though I myself do not campaign for us to adapt this, I believe its importance in a particular story. If you’ve ever watched The Game of Thrones (uncensored version), you will notice that it’s really not for minors. However, that’s just one part of the story. A bigger part shows more than just literal interpretations. Sex, nudity, and all others we censor are part of lives being portrayed, thus making things more realistic than just kissing and cutting it there.
Multiple Angles, Risks, and Real Life
Californication, a story of people who screw their lives and are always on the run to fix it, is actually one of my favorites which I can describe in 3 words. Raw. Real. Alive. Here, the characters are built to be real people. In the Philippines, our rich characters are always portrayed with the gadgets, big houses, cars. Yes they are symbols of being rich but they always appear to be superficial. There are a lot of angles to look at it and still derive that someone is rich or poor.
In Californication, the characters always make mistakes, cry, get drunk and high, up to the point that you already see them as real people being caught on tape. In the Philippines, Characters don’t have problems. Their only problems are those that are related to the main story. Characters have to always be in development, meaning, their story must be revealed continuously for us to know them. Unfortunately, Filipinos will only dig one level of the personality and that is it– the same old rich person whose son got kidnapped and needs to be redeemed.
Another series, the Listener, is something worth watching because of its ability to engage you into mystery. But not just another mystery show, the lead actor is a telepath. So what does it have to interest you? It shows the dazzling ability of our mind to conceive and interpret ideas, and it’s tendency to confuse us, therefore being a perfect fit for a mystery story. All we have are superheroes who save the Philippines.
I think our entertainment is merely a reflection of a country whose ideals, aspirations, dreams, hopes, all of it, have been very hard to achieve. We are trapped out of better opportunities because we can’t just rise to a 1st world state. We are not, but the mere fact that some of us recognizes the things we need to improve shows us that we know what is good and what is bad. And that we know we can be better in time. This post is not for me to tell people that we are hopeless in entertainment, we’re just getting started and we’ll get there. Even if it takes us baby steps.
Right now, the only shows I watch locally are Eat Bulaga (congratulations for having Eat Bulaga Indonesia), 24 oras, TV Patrol, and documentaries. We are good at that, and we can be better.
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An artwork, a photograph, a movie, a book, a song, a tv show, a talent, or a masterpiece; what do they have in common? The element of originality. People equate originality to excellence because the word ‘originality’ appears to be something to look up to. Just like an original item from the US compared to a local product in the Philippines. In other cases, having your work commented with “it’s fantastic and original” makes you feel like no one can beat your work, or that it’s the highest of its form.
This blog unfortunately does not believe in originality, so as the blogger.
I’ve heard from many people, commonly speakers, that (in the case of photography), a picture stands out when it has its originality. So I’ve always seen it as an alien entity to a competition (for example). In other contests I’ve joined, a huge percentage of judging my entry relied on originality taking up to 50% of the whole criteria. Every participant would think of the best original idea to compete and it felt like you just can’t have those ideas.
There is no way that we can produce original ideas, technically. We can only say one thing is original if it is based on our own perspective. Let’s say your classmate showed you his project. It was so detailed and colorful, probably the best project execution you have ever seen. So you may have thought- it’s originally made. A couple of minutes later, your classmate showed his project to one of your other classmates and the comment was “oh, it’s like the one they made in the movie blah blah”. This instance is in no peculiarity, it happens everyday, and we just don’t notice it. It may be original to you, but it’s just a whole lot of a copy from somewhere else.
Another example is my job as a designer. In as much as I would like for my designs to flow out as originally made by me, I cannot do so. All parts of my design could somehow be a replica of some designs I’ve seen before. I may claim it as something I thought of but I know that those pieces of design were stored subconsciously inside my brain while looking at designs from different places and time.
So how come?
Human beings live inside a closed sphere. All that we see, all that we hear, smell, touch, taste, all of it is a part of our memories. Memories which were drawn from the time we were created. This is where we get our instincts and ideas, all our experiences lead to something we do in the future. It’s safe to say that originality exists within the grounds of one’s perception but is not applicable for all. We don’t need to be afraid to say we’re not original because we are not. We are in the process of constantly adapting to our environment. Like a child learning to speak or beginning his first steps. He’s trying to imitate other people because those are the only things available for him to rely. It’s impossible to create something out of nothing without using a part of our memories.
Because this kind of thing cannot be controlled, laws were applied since everyone is obliged to obey the law. We have patents, intellectual property rights, and so on.
Embrace the fact that we can’t be original. I believe that something is excellent when it’s done with pure intent to be the best and pure effort to express something. Authenticity is not being original or ‘alien’. Authenticity is being real and it is invaluable.
It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.
-Jean Luc Godard
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