Dreaming about the Top 10 Cruise Lines in this pandemic

 

It has been more than four months since the quarantine brought by COVID-19 ravaged the world, and most of us may have this cabin fever. It’s more than a fever, I admit, and one could only wish to travel the world.

While we are sheltered and comforted in our homes, reading and watching blog posts or websites that remind us of how free we were before really takes the steam off and makes our feelings better.

That is why I really think hard about going on a cruise as soon as this pandemic ends (and my wallet balloons!) to get rid of all the blues that the quarantine gave. I wish I could finish all the Top 10 cruise lines listed here.

How about you? What’s your plan after all of this is over?

Artistic Negros Occidental Pt. 1 – Entering the “Sweet Island” through Bacolod City: Feast Upon the “Barangay sang Birhen” Chapel

NOTE: Pictures displayed in this series are taken during the blogger’s Humanities class tour last year. Taken specifically on September 9, 2010, the pictures may not resemble the present state or physique of the places, works of art, and even of the people caught with these pictures. This blog series serves to inform and offer eye-candies of the beauty of the place featured. Thank you for reading this note. I wish you understand why this is written. Until then. Bonne lecture!

Negros Occidental is approximately 500 kms. from Manila, the capital of the Philippines and there are daily trips to and fro NAIA-3 and Bacolod-Silay Airport respectively. But I am from Iloilo so our class boarded a fast ferry from Iloilo City to Bacolod City.

Our Humanities 1 class, under Prof. Celia F. Parcon of the University of the Phiippines-Visayas, merged with her other Hum1 class and with Dr. Rose Asong’s class to have this trip to Negros Occidental. Those who were not able to this field trip was told to visit churches and local art galleries for their reaction papers. I expected that we will also visit places like these in Negros.

First of all, Negros Occidental is not a new place for me. Both of my parents hail from Cadiz City and since I was a child, we were travelling back and forth to visit relatives. These trips were only lessened when I attended high school.

I was also a bit of excited for this trip. I woke up at 4 and went to the Muelle-Loney wharf of Iloilo City. We boarded the Ocean Jet Ferry with a 300 Php roundtrip ticket. I have no idea if the fare’s still the same but this is cheaper than the other fast ferry travelling from Iloilo to Negros.

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The usual travel from Iloilo to Bacolod is 45 minutes to one hour. This is ample enough to rest or maybe to take a nap but with excitement seeping, one cannot sleep at this moment. We arrived the Reclamation Area in Bacolod City and was fetched by our tourguides with buses and vans to carry us throughout the tour. I was blessed to be with my friends and hurried to go inside a brand-new looking van. Add to it, we had local-personality John Arceo with his SLR camera as our tour guide. From the wharf, we traveled to our first destination.

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While travelling, we saw this tower that will be discussed in another post later. This tower has a great significance and impact not only for the Negrenses but also for the whole Filipino Roman Catholic community.

We were brought to a subdivision somewhere in Bacolod. This was the Sta. Clara Subdivision. I really admit this to friends that I have no idea how to travel in Bacolod even if I had been there many times. Bacolod City is a chartered city in Negros Occidental and more can be learned about Bacolod City here and here.

We then knew where we are going. We will be observing the Chapel of the Barangay Birhen sang (Barangay of the Virgin, “Village” of the Virgin). It was designed by Archbishop Norman Campus. The chapel is named after the mosaic of the Barangay Sang Birhen made to be the background of the altar. This is said to be made of 95,000 shells by Leticia Sia Ledesma together with other saint icons.

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My teachers were very eager to see the works of art featured in the chapel especially when knowing that almost everything in this chapel, perhaps the Sto. Niño encased in glass as the exception, are made of shells.

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The Birhen sang Barangay for which the chapel is dedicated to is presented in a Madonna and Child position with Mary carries baby Jesus in her arms. In this mosaic, Mary is standing upon the island of Negros and looks over to the island of Panay. This speaks about the mutuality and the brotherhood of the two islands and said that the Virgin and the baby Jesus bless both of the islands.

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Together with the crucifix, the chapel boasts shell-replicas of famous saint icons in history. Here, we see the Pieta of Michaelangelo together with the Divine Mercy and the Our Lady of Guadalupe, all in shell grandeur.

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These are the other saint images found all over the place together with the mosaic stations of the cross.

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This is the encased image of the Child Jesus which I stated to be the only non-shell image in the chapel.

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All in all, the trip to the chapel was very refreshing in terms of my aesthetic view. I am not a Roman Catholic yet I appreciated what the RC community there at Sta. Clara subdivision had envisioned. This is just part one of my series. I hope you will read the coming parts. 😉

Artistic Negros Occidental – My Encounters with the Aesthetic Cities of Bacolod, Talisay, and Silay

I was fooling around Facebook last time and saw my status a year ago when I had this field trip for my Humanities 1 class while I was still at Miag-ao and I realized I have not shared these on my blog. I just returned to blogging December last year.

So, I uploaded my pics and decided to post a travelogue-like series for my blog, aiming that this can be a travel-blog or a food-blog someday. (But yeah, this could be a travel-blog. For food, I still don’t have enough “guts and glory”, i.e. money, to spend for them.)

Here is a little background of Negros Occidental from Wikipedia:

Negros Occidental (FilipinoKanlurang Negros) is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Its capital isBacolod City and it occupies the northwestern half of Negros IslandNegros Oriental is at the southeastern half. Across the Panay Gulf and the Guimaras Strait to the northwest is the island-province of Guimaras and the province of Iloilo on Panay island. Known as the “Sugarbowl of the Philippines”, Negros Occidental produces more than half the nation’s sugar output.

Technically, Negros Occidental dwellers are called “Negrense” as with those hailing from Negros Oriental. But they are also referred to as “Ilonggos” together with those coming from Iloilo, Antique, Aklan, and Capiz that make up the Region VI. They are referred to as this because the people of Region Vi either understands or speaks the major language of Iloilo which is “Hiligaynon” but also called “Ilonggo” after the people who use it.

We toured four different spots and places in NegOcc and I’m planning to post them one place a day. Yeah. But I hope I’ll do fine. Thanks for reading! 😉

Paraw Regatta Festival: Another Festival Milestone of the City of Iloilo + Sinamba sa Paraw Regatta Pics

I love posts about festivals. It hurts me that I don’t have the guts and glory (i.e., money) to attend all festivals in the world. Perhaps I also lack the DIGITAL CAMERA.haha. But my love for festivities is only rivaled by my pure adoration to my city. There has never been this kind of feeling in my life towards an inanimate thing than my love for Iloilo City.

You may have seen my posts about the Dinagyang Festival and Iloilo Chinese New Year Festival which are parts of the festival routine in the annual first quarter. The next would be the Paraw Regatta Festival. Hearing the name you will know that this is a regatta, a race of “paraws” which is, “a double outrigger sail boat found in the Philippines”.

I hope my posts that combine my love for festivals and my love for my city do you! 😉

Here you will find a nice presentation of the paraw by the Iloilo Paraw Regatta Foundation.

It is hailed as one of the oldest and most colorful boat festivals in Asia since its conception in 1973 but it is distinct from its other relatives because of the diversity of activities it features like all other Ilonggo festivals. While its main showcase is the race of paraws from Villa Beach, Arevalo passing through the Iloilo Strait to the island Province of Guimaras, it is also made up of several but not limited activities as follows: Pinta Layag, sail painting contest; Porma Balas, sand sculpting; Pintawo, body painting contest; Miss Paraw Regatta,a local beauty pageant; Sinamba sa Regatta (formerly Samba De Regatta), music & Mardi Gras contest; Luces by the Sea,a pyrotechnic exhibition; beach volleyball; and photo competition. This year, the foundation introduced a new event which is the Iloilo National Jet Ski Competition which is also a Mayor’s Cup.

If only I have all the equipments to cover all these things, I would have offered you a B-E-A-utiful eyecandies. I have presented here a section devoted to “Sinamba sa Regatta”.

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A Sinamba lead dancer

“Sinamba sa Regatta” is also considered to be a highlight of Paraw Regatta and is a major break from the decades of simple regattas of the city. The costumes, music, and theme is very similar to its inspiration, the Mardi Gras of South America. It is held every Thursday of the festival week and on the regatta proper. The prelims is held at the streets of City Proper from the Iloilo Provincial Capitol building up to the famed Iloilo Freedom Grandstand which is where the performers do their thing. The finals is held on the Villa Beach together with the other activities.

The preliminaries is also a torch parade with sectors from the government and NGOs parade through the streets to either showcase their talents or just play along.

Here are the pictures! Enjoy!

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The participants also come from schools all over the city. This one event makes me proud of the unity thing displayed by the people, the people of the City of Love of the Philippines. 😉

Gong Xi Fa Cai!: Iloilo City Chinese New Year Festival 2011

This event is very close to my heart. It may not surpass the greatness of Dinagyang or the unity in Paraw Regatta, but my heart belongs to it.

I was educated in a Chinese high school and took up my secondary education at Iloilo Sun Yat Sen High School. I was pretty attached to the Chinese culture. But more than this, the Iloilo City Chinese New Year Festival is very dear in my heart because of two things: I was a performer in its festivities for four years, and I met my special person through this event.

Enough of myself and back to what I’m supposed to present! Here is a are previews of a performances in the festival by the Lion and Dragon Dancers of my alma mater:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsiX9C2k4Eo;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj-K5Ig8Nxo;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Just so you know, if you find their performance the best in Iloilo, it’s the fact that they are the only school that has sent people to China just to train in these Chinese arts and I’m pretty proud of them.

This lunar year is said to be the Year of the Metal Rabbit. I’m not really into Chinese or any kind of zodiac but hey, these symbolisms are embedded in our lives. The Chinese schools of our city and several associations, organizations, and foundations joined together with the Iloilo City Government to welcome the Year of the Rabbit.

This is the very first “Chinese New Year Festival” in the Philippines, the very first Chinese new year cultural presentation in the Visayas, and the inspiration of several Chinese new year celebrations in the country including Bacolod City’s Bacolaodiat. It is dubbed as the best celebration of the Chinese new year outside Ongpin (Manila’s Chinatown).

This festival was originally a cultural presentation of Chinese culture and arts of the city’s Chinese community but it was hailed and was given a festival status by the then-City Mayor, Cong. Jerry P. Treñas. This led to the sequence of festivals in Iloilo City as follows: Arevalo Fireworks Festival=>Kasadyahan Festival=>Dinagyang Festival=>Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Fiesta=>Chinese New Year Festival=>Paraw Regatta Festival. This sequence, with the Candelaria Fiesta and Chinese New Year as interchangeable events, are held from January to February.

Participants are as follows: Iloilo Sun Yat Sen High School (怡朗中山中学), Iloilo Central Commercial High School (怡朗华商中学), Ateneo de Iloilo – Santa Maria Catholic School (雅典耀学校), Iloilo Scholastic Academy (怡朗新华学院), and Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus (圣心学校).

Held every immediate Friday of the first Lunar year’s week, the Iloilo Chinese New Year Festival is a concrete manifestation of the close relationship of the Ilonggo and Chinese cultures properly presented by the city’s Filipino-Chinese communities and of the Ilonggo race. Kung Hei Fat Choi and Waswas Iloilo!

Dinagyang 2011 in Youtube: View the Ati-ati Tribe Competition

Well, a tweetfriend gave me an idea. I’m not sure if any of you out there is ever interested with Dinagyang but I want to show this festival to the world. So here they are, in the same order with the main event!

DISCLAIMER: I am not the owner of these videos. Since they are posted in youtube, I assume they are royalty-free and free-to-embed. I am in no way related to webfreeb or any Dinagyang tribe. Hala bira!

Tribu Bola-bola

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY0Z8c3PCFc;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Atub-atub

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe3vK9gp_s8;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Paghidaet

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50EuDar4U0A;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Molave

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZipaCT3QVU;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Silak

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csXMXuWPVms;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Aninipay

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-x0JjLd2EQ;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Salognon

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCOFde0N5_E;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Himal-us

Tribu Manduryaw

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR1e4MLXaec;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Bantu

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MamEx1V8j3w;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Pan-ay

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h960L0L87c;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Pag-asa

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IP3rZIPr2R8;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Ilonganon

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T52WGbovqWU;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Angola

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jAxtZwlHcw;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Results for DINAGYANG 2011 – ATI-ATI COMPETITION:
MINOR AWARDS
Best in Discipline……………………. Tribu Bola-Bola
Best in Street Dancing…………….. Tribu Paghidaet
Best in Music………………………… Tribu Salognon
Best in Costume and Headdress…. Tribu Paghidaet
Best in Choreography………………. Tribu Pan-ay
Best in Performance………………… Tribu Pan-ay

 

MAJOR AWARDS
4th Runner-up……. Tribu Manduryaw
3rd Runner-up……. Tribu Salognon
2nd Runner-up…… Tribu Bola-Bola
1st Runner-up……. Tribu Paghidaet
CHAMPION………… Tribu Pan-ay

Dinagyang: A Religious History

This post is kind of late for publishing since the events that I cover here are held before the proper Dinagyang festivities. But I blog to post and I post to blog. So, read on if you want to… 😉

I have been consistently saying to all readers of this blog, that I am an born-again Christian, or let’s say, evangelical, and I am not ashamed of this faith. Dinagyang is a highly-Roman Catholic celebration. You may ask why I post them here. My answer: You will never understand the Philippines’ history without taking in consideration the religion of the majority which exists in the islands for more than 400 years already.

A Wikipedia account of the Philippines could be found here. I am simply sharing you these information as a proud Ilonggo ang Filipino. Dinagyang showcases the richness of our culture.

Now, for Dinagyang:

This is Dagoy, the mascot of Dinagyang. He is the first and only mascot that represents a festival in the Philippines. This is one of a first in the Philippines from Iloilo City. To know more about the firsts of my beloved city, please click here.

Amidst the festive image of Dagoy, Dinagyang has a serious tone for Catholics of Iloilo. January is the month of the feast of the Christ Child following the Christmas celebration. This is the reason why Dinagyang is in January. It celebrates the feast of Santo Niño or Holy Infant.

Dinagyang’s history takes credit from the devotees of the Santo Niño. Here is a condensed history of Dinagyang:

Dinagyang began after Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez of a local Roman Catholic parish introduced the devotion to Santo Niño in November 1967. In 1968, a replica of the original image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought to Iloilo by Fr. Sulpicio Enderez as a gift to the Parish of San Jose. The faithful, led by members of Confradia del Santo Niño de Cebu, Iloilo Chapter, worked to give the image a fitting reception starting at the Iloilo Airport and parading down the streets of Iloilo.

In the beginning, the observance of the feast was confined to the parish. The Confradia patterned the celebration on the Ati-atihan of Ibajay, Aklan, where natives dance in the streets, their bodies covered with soot and ashes, to simulate the Atis dancing to celebrate the sale of Panay. It was these tribal groups who were the prototype of the present festival.

The parish served by the Confradia, the San Jose Parish, has a school. This institution, put up by the Augustinian missionaries, holds a reenactment of the story of how Christianity was received at the shores of the Philippines.

Several characters from history is being represented by various persons for this event. The following pictures I will share with you were taken during the arrival of the image of Santo Niño de Cebu.

The San Jose Parish Church.

The Santo Niño. Every Dinagyang, there is a Hermana and Hermano Mayor that serves as the muse and consort for the festival. Commonly, they are members of the Confradia and are married. Together with a child that wears a Holy Infant costume, they are the important persons for the feast.

Many Catholic Filipinos believe in the supernatural power of wearing the clothes just like those of the Santo or venerated images or sculptures. Some say just by wearing, a fever will go away instantly. Parents consider this as a great honor and blessing for the family.

Princesa Isabel ’08

These were “Damas” or Dames

This is the Princesa Isabel of 2011.

All muses and beautiful women shown here are different from the Miss Iloilo Dinagyang and Miss Hiyas sang Iloilo Festival Queen.

I hope you enjoyed this post! 😉

Hail to the Queen of Philippine Festivals: Iloilo Dinagyang!

As an Ilonggo, nothing could be more exciting than to be roaming the city streets during the Dinagyang Festival. Even though I’m not a Roman Catholic and this festival is very religious in terms of its sources and causes, I love this festival as a cultural and traditional event. Nobody’s asking anybody to be a Roman Catholic during Dinagyang! Ilonggos just want to honor the Aeta race and the loud drums and percussion instruments followed by the “dinagyang” or merry-making. Here’s the Wikipedia article on Dinagyang:

The Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo CityPhilippines held on the fourth Sunday of January, or right after the Sinulog In Cebu and the Ati-Atihan in Aklan. It is held both to honor the Santo Niño and to celebrate the arrival on Panay of Malay settlers and the subsequent selling of the island to them by the Atis.

Dinagyang began after Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez of a local Roman Catholic parish introduced the devotion to Santo Niño in November 1967. In 1968, a replica of the original image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought to Iloilo by Fr. Sulpicio Enderez as a gift to the Parish of San Jose. The faithful, led by members of Confradia del Santo Niño de Cebu, Iloilo Chapter, worked to give the image a fitting reception starting at the Iloilo Airport and parading down the streets of Iloilo.

In the beginning, the observance of the feast was confined to the parish. The Confradia patterned the celebration on the Ati-atihan of Ibajay, Aklan, where natives dance in the streets, their bodies covered with soot and ashes, to simulate the Atis dancing to celebrate the sale of Panay. It was these tribal groups who were the prototype of the present festival.

In 1977, the Marcos government ordered the various regions of the Philippines to come up with festivals or celebrations that could boost tourism and development. The City of Iloilo readily identified the Iloilo Ati-atihan as its project. At the same time the local parish could no longer handle the growing challenges of the festival.

The Dinagyang is divided into three Major events: Ati-Ati Street Dancing, Kasadyahan Street Dancing and Miss Dinagyang.

Today, the main part of the festival consists of a number of “tribes”, called “tribus”, who are supposed to be Ati tribe members dancing in celebration. There are a number of requirements, including that the performers must paint their skin brown and that only indigenous materials can be used for the costumes. All dances are performed to drum music. Many tribes are organized by the local high schools. Some tribes receive a subsidiary from the organizers and recruit private sponsors, with the best tribes receiving the most. The current Ati population of Iloilo is not involved with any of the tribes nor are they involved in the festival in any other way.

Dinagyang was voted as the best Tourism Event for 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines. It is the first festival in the world to get the support of the United Nations for the promotion of the Millennium Development Goals, and cited by the Asian Development Bank as Best Practice on government, private sector & NGO cooperations.

After 41 years, the ATOP formally declared Iloilo Dinagyang as the “Queen of Philippine Festivals”! Hurray to Iloilo!

But after many years, the simple celebration of the Dinagyang evolved rapidly. From its humble beginnings as a simple Ati-ati dance for the Child Jesus, it then became a cultural contest that eventually led it to become the grandest festival bonanza you surely would not want to miss!

This firework display is just one of the many events during Dinagyang.

I’m a die-hard traveler but did not roam the city as wildly as possible. I got an asthma attack two days before the festival proper. But I still had to see the beauty of the “queen”.

The Saturday of the festival brings us Kasadyahan Festival. This is a major image of what Dinagyang truly is: a festival of festivals!

Afternoon of this festival is a unique presentation of sponsors and donors of the Dinagyang Foundation. A Sponsor’s Mardi Gras is held allowing companies and people to advertise, have fun, and entertain people.

This Chinese school even gave us a glance of the next festival in the city immediately after Dinagyang, the “Chinese New Year Festival”.

The next day of festivities is the highlight of the Festival. The Ati-ati Tribe competition is the superb thing that makes Dinagyang the best! Here is a youtube clip of this year’s champion, Tribu Pan-ay:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h960L0L87c;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

This year is the largest crowd in Iloilo that I have ever seen!

Over all, this year’s Dinagyang Festival was truly great.

Despite my argument against this motto, I am convinced, Iloilo Dinagyang truly is, “Iloilo’s finest, nation’s best!”

Eating Out With Two of Us Sick

Last Sunday night, me and my younger brother Gerrit are sick. I am feverishly fevering with fever while he howls and coughs like tomorrow never comes. It just so happened that there was a beautiful soul who came and invited us out! So, the three of us (me, Gerrit, and the beautiful soul) together with my daddy invaded the city streets in search for a restaurant or anything to eat at,

I’m here to tell you that I love telling stories about food as much as how I love food! Food not foods! Ha!

It was very hard deciding where we will eat since we have a little scarce small-small budget and it was a little bit late. (7:00 pm would be a late hour for a Sunday.) We thought over Mang Inasal, Jolibee, Crave, blah blah but still came up with, PECHO-PAK!

Hehehe… Really, my family loves eating at Pecho-Pak. I don’t know if they will get mad with me posting it here but since we transferred to our house at La Paz (a district of Iloilo City), we were like a regular customer on one of their branches there, visiting at least twice a month. I don’t know what’s with their food but we just keep on returning there. Considering my father grew at Bacolod City (another city in the Philippines) where Jo’s Chicken Inato came from and with the new type of inasalan experience given by Mang Inasal, it is quite REMARKABLE that we keep on returning there.

“Pecho-Pak” simple means “breast-wing” in Hiligaynon/Ilonggo (the dialect of Iloilo) which is the bigger serving of chicken inasal (inasal is barbecue). I love promoting things! Ha!

If anybody of you there visits the Ilonggo sphere (it’s the Western Visayas area where people are called Ilonggos because of the common dialect/language) you need to try the local inasal of each area you visit. Iloilo inasal greatly differs from that of Negros (the island).

We ordered a little bunch of food considering our budget but it was okay. We were very full afterwards.

We also ordered soup. A basic sumptuous Filipino would consist of: rice, main course, and soup. That’s already an extravagant course. The soup we ordered was Bulalo or the soup with a big piece of bone marrow (what? I’m talking like I’m not a Filipino! )

We spent more or less 600 Philippine pesos together with our softdrinks. This restaurant may not be your type but I recommend it for you if ever you have a chance to visit Iloilo City. Dinagyang is coming as of the time of this writing! Don’t forget, try our inasal! 😉 Happy eating…

Pecho-Pak has branches at Quezon St., Iloilo City and Lopez-Jaena St., Jaro, Iloilo City.

How about I give cooking recipes here? Any reactions? 😉

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