Safety Precautions This New Year

December 28, 2016
New Year’s Day is the first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. It is the time at which a new calendar’s year counts increments by one and is observed on January 1. In present day, New Years Day is the most celebrated public holiday, where many Filipino families unite on New Year’s Eve celebrating a midnight meal known as the Media Noche. This is a week after the Christmas’ Noche Buena. Filipinos believe that we should put as much food on the table so that you will have food all year round.

New year Precaution
Image (c) Benson Kua/Flickr
Aside from the traditions and superstitions to wear polka- dots prints or any circular designs to symbolize money, display twelve round fruits at the table for good luck, and for children to jump as high as they can so they would grow up tall, it is commonly observed with lighting fireworks making a lot of noise when the clock strikes twelve as New Year starts its reign.

Fireworks are Chinese inventions and were added to our traditions every New Year to bid the old year goodbye and welcome the upcoming year.

During the New Year’s Eve, in line with all the merriments, we still have to follow some safety precautions:

  • Handle fireworks with caution. Use only authorized firecracker products and must buy only legal firecrackers from reputable stores and always read instructions and make sure to take all the necessary precautions before lighting them.
  • When firecrackers fail to ignite, never attempt to re-light it. Otherwise, put it in a can of water and get rid of it.
  • When firecracker strand ignites, move away and do not stand over it.
  • If necessary you can install a smoke detector in your house to avoid tragedies of fire.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and flammable materials. Check for flaming cigarette butts or firecrackers and extinguish it properly.
  • Wear safety apparel like baseball cap or hardhat, gloves, earplugs, facemask and goggles.
  • Use a flat solid surface with no dry grass when lightning firecrackers.
  • When someone got injured by a firecracker:
    • Clean the wound by running the injured body part with cold water to reduce heat level.
    • Have the burned area cleaned by dry cloth.
    • Apply a topical anesthetic burn spray or Aloe Vera lotion/ cream to moisturize the burned area.
    • Apply an antiseptic cream to the burned area and if necessary wrap it with clean soft sheets or gauze.
    • If there are pains, take an analgesic like Paracetamol or Ibuprofen.
    • If the burn is serious enough and cannot be handling by home remedies, the victim must be brought to the nearest hospital for medical treatment to avoid nasty infection or a bad case of tetanus.
  • It is important to know what firecrackers are authorized to be used and those that are not. Go with fountains, lucis, sparklers, roman candles, and trumpillo. Bamboo canon is also familiar but to some who are adventurous, they will use the 5 star, “sawa”, Super Lolo, or maybe kwitis.
  • Never get too drunk if you are driving home after the eve whether a car, motorbike, or bicycle.

To most Filipinos, lighting fireworks is a common belief that it would drive off bad luck and cast out malevolent spirits. New Year practices and traditions like this is a great part of our culture and describes a lot about the Philippines, however let us not just put out of our mind to be very extra vigilant.

Jarvis by Mark Zuckerberg: Released December 20, 2016

December 25, 2016
Building a simple AI (Artificial Intelligence) to run Mark Zuckerberg’s home was his personal challenge in 2016. Just like Jarvis in Iron Man, his focal goal was to gain knowledge about the state of artificial intelligence, but these challenges led him to learn more than what he expected. This has actually given him an enhanced logic of all the internal technology and an overview of home automation.

jarvis by MArk
Image (Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook)            

Jarvis is a simple AI, a digital butler that can be use to control Zuckerberg’s home. This is by simply talking to his phone through the application that he built, it can control everything including lights, appliances, music and security, temperature. It can learn his tastes and patterns, learn new words and concepts, and can entertain his daughter Max.

It uses several artificial intelligence techniques, including natural language processing, speech and face recognition, and reinforcement learning, written in Python, PHP, and Objective C.

One best thing about Jarvis is that it can recognize people at the gate, it lets them in automatically and tell Mark about it. If Mark doesn’t want to talk, he can text Jarvis through the Messenger bot and it will follow his command.

While coding, Mark encountered some predicaments like connecting and communicating with all the different systems in his home. He need to write a code to connect all his systems, which all speak different languages and protocols. Another thing is that most appliances are not yet connected to the internet and it is impossible to control some of these using internet-connected power switches that lets you turn the power on and off remotely.

He wrote a code so his computer could control his home which he can use as his foundation in controlling his home. He made this code so he can exchange a few words using text messages, and afterwards he added the ability to speak and translate his voice into text for Jarvis to read.

The keywords is somewhat important here, like “living room”, “lights”, and “on” to determine that he was telling Jarvis to turn the lights on in the living room. It must be clearly stated, like if it’s in “ family room” or “bedroom” or “living room” or “Max’s room”. For instance if Mark asked Jarvis to play a song, he should include where because it might end up playing music in Max’s room while she was taking a nap.

Music to some extent is appealing but more complex because there are too many artists, songs and albums to hold, unlike in lights that can only be turned on or off. One example of this was a request connected to Adele: “play someone like you”, “play someone like adele”, and “play some adele”. If you will take a look at it, these three sounds alike, but each one is a totally dissimilar category of request. “Play someone like you” is to play a specific song titled Someone Like You. “Play someone like adele,” is suggests an artist like Adele, and “Play some Adele” is to play music of Adele something like a playlist.

One difficult part of this project is the face recognition but very useful when your friends are at your door and your AI needs to find out who they are through the cameras that were installed.

Jarvis was programmed on a computer, but in order for it to be at its use, you have to exchange a few words with it anywhere you happen to be. Along with that, Mark can also use his phone. How? Mark created an App called Messenger Bot, working across both iOS and Android. In that way he can communicate with Jarvis by texting it and it will instantly be relayed to the Jarvis server and process it.

Texting is as important as voice and speech recognition. Jarvis could listen endlessly to what he says because of the dedicated Jarvis app that he built. This app allows him to situate his phone on a desk and just have Jarvis pay attention.

Morgan Freeman is a popular American actor with an authoritative voice and calm behavior. He is lending his iconic sound to Mark Zuckerberg and will record only limited set of commands.

For Mark, this project was fun and rewarding and he is looking forward to sharing what he learn and he is open to suggestions to make it more effective.

Imagine every home sitting on this planet to have artificial intelligence embedded onto its walls. Could this be our future? What outcome can these phenomena have?

Source: maFacebook

Free Education for Filipinos Starting Next Year

December 25, 2016
For the first time in the history of the Philippines, free tuition fee for college education is indeed an accomplishment of the Duterte administration who once promised during the election period that they will improve the country’s education sectors with full support of the legislative department of the government.

Free Education In the Philippines

Due to the realignment of P8.3 billion of the Senate in the 2017 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), students enrolled in State Universities and Colleges (SUC) do not have to pay their tuition fee starting next year. This additional budget will cover tuition fee of students in SUCs which was discussed during the Senate deliberations for the 2017 budget and was later approved by the Congress and Senate to be included in the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) under the administration of President Rody Duterte.

During the Lower and Upper House deliberations of the 2017 national budget, this proposed budget was questioned by Sen. Panfilo Lacson and named as a form of pork barrel because there were reports that the House lawmakers originally wanted to include the P8.3 billion in the DPWH budget to provide for development projects of the AUTONOMOUS Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but senators wanted the fund allocated to the CHED instead.

The congressmen eventually conceded to the senators during the bicameral conference committee for the national budget.

CHED chairperson Patricia Licuanan said in an interview, “That’s purely for tuition fee, that’s purely to remove tuition from the student expenses. We cannot spend P8.3 billion on anything else except to compensate the schools for the fact that they can no longer charge tuition fees.”

She also added that CHED is working with other government agencies for the implementing guidelines on how to utilize the budget which will be part of the 2017 General Appropriations Act now awaiting the signature of President Duterte.

Licuanan also appended “Logistically, it will be difficult. How do you share, how do you divide the P8.3 billion with 113 SUCs (and the University of the Philippines), and what formula do you use? The implementation will be a bit of a challenge, but that’s the intention of the P8 billion.”

Napoleon Imperial, CHED deputy executive director, said that the commission would coordinate with the Department of Budget and Management to regard issues regarding fund utilization. He added, “CHED wants to ensure that the implementation / guidelines are defined properly to be able to manage the huge amount of funds accordingly.”

Kabataan Party -List Rep. Sarah Elago praised the allocation of the budget and called it a step in the right direction for SUCs. She also said, “This is a victory for the youth movement which has long fought for the right to education. This is great news for the nation’s youth and their families, especially the poor and the marginalized.”

She added, “I also call on student councils and student governments, as well as the regents and the trustees, to conduct student consultation summits to help shape and monitor the implementation of the tuition-free policy. We must do everything in our power to have it implemented quickly and with a positive effect on students and the SUC community. We do not expect this to be easy; we are fighting a decades-old problem that infected SUCs with the wrong notion on tuition. Some SUCs may insist on violating the spirit of the Congress decision, but we will patiently and unequivocally fight them.”

In a testimonial prepared by Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, chair of the Senate committee on education, arts, and culture – called the Senate’s initiative as a “major reform that will greatly benefit Filipino families.”

There has been a story published prior to the 2016 elections on the feasibility of a tuition-free policy as promised by several candidates then including Presidential candidate Grace Poe, and Senatorial candidates Sherwin Gatchalian and Walen Bello.

With this great news, students can now be stress-free in regard to their tuition fees because these calls will soon be answered by the government. This implementation is a great way of starting the promised improved education in our country which can be a big step towards becoming a solid and advanced nation. 

Bicol International Airport (BIA): Soon to Open

December 25, 2016
It was early of 2006 when government officials planned and discussed the feasibility of an international airport in Legazpi, also known as Bicol International Airport (BIA). It was March 4 and 5, 2006 to be exact when the officials in Daraga, where the airport would be constructed as discussed by the Barangay captains of Alobo, Inarado, Kinawitan, Burgos and Mabini to convert the agricultural lands into industrial lands for the airport; many families were displaced from the construction.

Bicol International Airport

It will be the first international airport to be built in Bicolandia and would be evidence to economic growth in the region and of the dreams of Bicolanos. The Bicol Regional Development Council, after much delay, has newly announced that it would soon be finished in July 2017. BIA will now be included in the lists of international airports in the Philippines.

It was July 2007, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the DOTC (Department of Transportation AND Communication) to fast track the paperwork and official procedure of the planned new airport and released 85 million pesos for its advance engineering study. During that time, Tourism Secretary Ace Durano, has assured the allotment of 250 million pesos for the purchase of land. On November 2007, pre-construction activities such as feasibility study and site development planned have been completed.

The airport was originally scheduled for completion in 2014 but due to construction delay, the project was expected to be finished at an unspecified date before 2016. In June 2015, it was reported that the construction is 47% done and would be finished in July 2017. At some time in July 2016, it was reported that the construction would be delayed further and would be finished in August 2018.

In September 2012, the Budget Department released 4.6 billion pesos to support the public-private partnership (PPP) projects of the DOTC. The airport will receive a total of 2 billion pesos for the development and to fund the engineering of runways and taxiways.

BIA was a 4.7 billion peso project and is on a 200-hectare plateau, 15 kilometers from Mayon Volcano. Some sources name it Southern Luzon International Airport and will replace the old domestic airport, Legazpi Airport in Legazpi City hosting local flights to and from Manila.

According to Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, the new international airport would pave way for a safer and faster means of transportation. People who will travel abroad who are residing in the Bicol Region will no longer have to travel going to Manila for their international trips especially the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). He thanked President Rodrigo Duterte, who graced the groundbreaking ceremony last December 8, for approving the BIA project. He also said, “He lost here during the elections; nevertheless, he still showed that he is doing his job. What took the previous administration three years to do; he was able to do in four months.” What he was talking about was the release of 700-million peso funds for the construction of the landslide facilities of the BIA.

Salceda added, “Duterte knows what the people need and care about every day. Here in Bicol, our strongest potential is Tourism.” The congressional representative also said that the projects would create 100,000 more jobs for Bicolanos.

He later concluded, “We owe it to Duterte for being decisive,” since the construction has been delayed for over a decade after two former Presidents, Gloria Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III, failed to implement the project. They put the blame on former DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya for not prioritizing the project.

Another good thing about this is that the more tourists will visit the region for attractions like Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex and the Caramoan Islands that will encourage economic growth and tourism in the Bicol Region.

It would be an advantage to many businesses from different business industries once BIA is fulfilled because of reduced travel time.

Daraga Mayor Gerry Rodrigueza Jaucean said in an interview, “We’re grateful to the President for fulfilling the Bicolano’s dream to have an international airport. This is the realization of our quest to become one of the booming regions in the country.”

Top Destinations to Spend Christmas Here in the Philippines

December 18, 2016

Christmas is one of the biggest holidays in the archipelago. Philippines celebrates the longest Christmas season in Asia with 90% of most Filipinos are Christians and 80% are Catholic. This is the time where families and friends unite. You can hear Christmas carols as early as September and usually lasts until the Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9. The church observe this season and formally start the celebrations from the beginning of Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo on December 16 until the Feast of the Epiphany or Feast of the Three Kings on the first Sunday of the year. Simbang Gabi is a way of thanksgiving, worship, petition or simply fulfilling someone’s wish for it to come true (as they say).
Top Destination to spend Christmas
Image from Wikimedia

In urban areas like Metro Manila, most offices organize parties and are usually held during the second week of December, right before schools and universities go on holiday. Most schools organize Christmas Party, and common activities includes Kris Kringle or Monito/Monita; there also are parlor games that they do in order to push with the celebration. Food is provided through potluck, or through money contributions to buy food.

Read: What to think when planning a vacation

One Christmas traditions that’s very common to Filipinos is the Christmas trees. Another is the parol or lantern which symbolizes Buddha’s power to disperse and to disrupt the power of evil and darkness. Christmas decorations are glamorous and catches eyes of people who observe them.

While some people are very busy shopping on malls for Christmas gifts, some are planning to have a Christmas vacation with their family anywhere in the country. Having a vacation, particularly a Christmas vacation is a perfect gift. Here’s a list of the most affordable places to visit during the Christmas season:

1. Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Located in the western provincial island of Palawan. It is a popular tourist city with many perfect beach resorts, natural wonders and great seafood restaurants. It has been acclaimed as the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines. It is a truly great spot for families who plans to celebrate Christmas and New Year away from civilization.

2. Boracay Island 

This island is surely a paradise you will enjoy during Christmas break. It is a perfect place to get away from urban jungles. Most of their crowds are single, and couples who enjoys night life and big crowds.

3. Panglao Isaland, Bohol 

Its primary tourist attraction are its coral white sandy beaches of which Alona Beach has. Panglao is known for snorkeling and diving sites like Arco Point, Kalipayan, Napaling and Puntod. Compare to Boracay , Pangao has less night life and it also has less crowds. A perfect Christmas destination. . The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon is the second oldest church and is made of coral stonework. The stones were reportedly cemented together with the whites of a million eggs. Another good place to visit is the Tarsier Sanctuary in the town of Corella. Perhaps Chocolate Hills is the most famous site in Bohol with a unique geological formation of more than 1700 mound-like hills spread over a 20 square mile area.

4. Baguio/Banaue 

During Christmas holidays, most people prefer spending their vacation in Baguio to experience cold temperature. Aside from being the “Summer Capital of the Philippines”, this is also often considered as the “Winter Capital of the Philippines”. It also have many places to visit which includes the Botanical Garden, the Asin Hotspring, Burnham Park, Rice Terraces, etc. You will also enjoy their sidewalk bazaars and flea markets without spending too much.

5. Cebu City 

The second largest city in the Philippines next to Metro Manila. It is also called the Queen City of the South which can offer iconic churches that can be visited during Christmas season. You will also enjoy the view of the giant Christmas tree in Fuente Circle, where colorful lights are light up every night throughout Christmas, New Year and up to the Sinulog Festival. Aside from their hotels, you will also enjoy their beaches.

6. Batanes

If you want to experience winter Christmas you can visit the northernmost province of the country situated in Cagayan Valley region. Batanes as they say is so beautiful, though it would costs more than the other destinations. They also have numerous hotels where you can stay during the Christmas break. Batanes is also known for its Arius trees or the Batanes Pine which they use as Christmas trees and decorate it with Christmas lights.

7. Puerto Galera, Mindoro

Another place where to spend Christmas to is the Puerto Galera, a small city on the North Coast of Mindoro Island. If you are fond of scuba diving and snorkeling this place suits you. Aside from that, you can go trekking in the jungle or the volcano.

8. Davao 

During the Christmas season this province flickers, and this is though the effort of the government and its people. Visitors from other location here in the Philippines and around the world will come to see it colorful decorations. They decorate the People’s Park, Eden Nature Park, Rizal Park, and the Matina Town Square with lights and décor for the people to watch every night. They also have are several interesting attractions that make Davao great Philippines vacation destination

9. Zambales 

One way of celebrating Christmas is by camping especially to families who enjoy the season in a comfy campfire setup, away from noise and pollution. There are places like Anawangin and Nagsasa Cove

It doesn’t necessarily matter where you spend your Christmas eve and Christmas day itself; it does not really matter how much you have spent. You can always find your own go to place to make your Christmas season a simple yet meaningful one. What does matter is that the true and essential meaning of Christmas still lies dormant and excited in our hearts and the thought of remembering Jesus Christ himself – that is what the most definite and meaningful Christmas thought you can give yourself.

Driver’s License to be released starting December 19, 2016 in Metro Manila

December 18, 2016
Are you part of the population who are currently hurting because your driver’s license is just a receipt? Well, a recent announcement made by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) rang bells to the ears of Filipinos. Because starting tomorrow, December 19, 2016, Driver’s licenses will now be released and the goal of the department is to complete it by February 2017. 

 

Officially, The LTO announced in a press release today, Sunday, December 18, 2016 that the driver’s license cards will finally be available starting Monday, December 19, 2016.

"The Metro Manila release of the cards will erase 700,000 of the 3-million backlog in 3-years valid driver's license cards. Rollout in other regions will follow, and is expected to be completed by February 2017," the LTO said. They also added that the cards will just be for those who registered during the 1st of January, 2016 until the 16th of October this year.

LTO Assistant Secretary also had a fair share of the release and had a few words. He reminded motorists well, everyone that they just need to present the official receipt of their payment in order to successfully claim their cards.

“I would like to caution all the claimants that they need NOT TO PAY a single centavo to claim their driver's licenses since they have already paid for it," said Assistant Secretary Galvante where he was quoted as saying.

Having this said, you should not have to cling to fixers to hasten the process because you shall not have to pay ANYTHING anymore because you have already paid for it. So avoid making deals with fixers that might ask you to pay thousands of pesos more which in the end won’t really hasten the claiming process.

Well for further information, back in 2013, the Commission on Audit (CoA) halted the production of cards which was handled by Amalgamted Motors Philippines Incorporated (AMPI). The CoA found that there was no “legal basis” to continue the production of cards because of the lack of proper contract. In simpler terms, the corporation’s contract with the LTO already expired in 2006.

Worry no more, driving population of the Philippines because this coming 2017, all of our prayers as regards to our license cards will not remain unanswered. With all the positive changes and adjustments that are happening, it is just right to be excited and merry because this news is a perfect gift for us this Christmas.

Along with that is the 5-year expiration that LTO implemented last month. With these updates, can we say that we Filipinos are being given the proper treatment and well-deserved gifts? Give us your feedback!

Philippine Long Weekends in 2017

December 17, 2016
After 365 days of 2016, it is slowly coming to an end. A lot of us would like to think about how long another year can be but it is truly just counting the days backwards. We have had long weekends in 2016 but there will be more in 2017; this happens rarely so I would suggest that you take advantage of this because you never know what year this’ll happen again. If I counted it right, we are entitled to have 10 regular holidays, 9 special non-working holidays, which would cost you only 3 days of leave that will result to 11 long weekends for the stretch of 2017.

Philippine Long Weekends in 2017
Image from Pixabay

This guide is good for travelers in such a reason that they would be able to know what dates they should file their leaves to achieve the long weekends. It also is good for planning cultivating activities and for family gatherings, etc.

January 2017
  • New Year’s Day – FRI (Dec 30, 2016), SAT (Dec 31, 2016), SUN (1)
April 2017
  • Holy Week – THUR (13), FRI (14), SAT (15), SUN (16)
May 2017
  • Labour day – SAT (29), SUN (30), MON (1)
June 2017
  • Independence Day – SAT (10), SUN (11), MON (12)
  • Eid’l Fitr – SAT (24), SUN (25), MON (26) *LEAVE, TUE (27)
August 2017
  • Ninoy Aquino Day – SAT (19), Sun (20), MON (21)
  • National Heroes Day – SAT (26), SUN (27), MON (28)
October 2017 (Additional Non-Working Holidays)
  • All Saints Day – SAT (28), SUN (29), Mon (30)*LEAVE, TUE (31), WED (1)
November 2017
  • Bonifacio Day – THUR (Oct 30, 2017), FRI (1)*LEAVE, SAT (2), SUN (3)
December 2017
  • Christmas Day – SAT (23), SUN (24), MON (25)
  • Rizal Day – SAT (30), SUN (31), MON (1)

So here is the list of the long weekends that we will be experiencing in 2017. Again, it is essential to every employee to know this in order for them to achieve proper planning and to gain great results from their long weekends.

You might be thinking that this is a hoax or some kind of trick but no, this is 100% legitimate and these figures definitely astounded us when we first knew about it.

One thing to strongly take note of is that the Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha are just estimates. As we all know, these dates are based on Islamic or lunar calendar so it will always be right and proper if we wait for the announcement from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) for these national holidays.

Nevertheless, it is still going to be a good year because we seldom experience occurrences like this and this year, it is served to us in a platter.

So? What are you waiting for? Plan for a trip now; take advantage of this gift to us because these types of things are rare most especially for us Filipinos because we are busy people. Don’t know where to go? Keep following us and be updated to know more about trips and traveling.

List of Crimes Punishable by Death under Death Penalty

December 12, 2016
This year, a new president sat down and changed the lives of this nation under his ordinance. Along with that, citizens of our country are now observing the “change” that almost everyone has been yearning for. Having that in mind, the House of Representatives Justice Committee has approved the newly proposed measure to reinstitute death penalty in the country.



Before this, let me give you a quick background of death penalty here in our country.

It was obliterated in 1987 under President Cory Aquino’s administration but was revived in 1993 under President Fidel Ramos’s time.

Under his time, some of the crimes that were punishable by death were:
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Drug Trafficking; and
  • Murder
In 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed a law that abolished capital punishment. This year, President Rodrigo Duterte a.k.a “Digong” is ready to have it back.

Under this, three (3) methods can be used in executing the death penalty which will be based on what I will about to list below. These three methods are:

  • Firing Squad
  • Lethal Injection
  • Hanging
The government bodies came to a decision to have people who are to commit these crimes and acts be nominated to death penalty. The Death Penalty Bill or House Bill 1 is now up for second reading. The bill was approved and had a vote of 12-6 without abstention.
  • Treason
  • Qualified Piracy
  • Qualified Bribery
  • Parricide
  • Murder
  • Infanticide
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping and serious illegal detention
  • Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons
  • Destructive Arson
  • Plunder
  • Importation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
  • Sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
  • Possession of dangerous drugs
  • Cultivation/Culture of plants classified as dangerous drugs
  • Unlawful prescription of dangerous drugs
  • Criminal liability of public offer for misappropriation, misapplication or failure to account for the confiscated, seized, or surrendered drugs
  • Criminal liability for planting evidence
  • Carnapping
Listed above are the crimes that are punishable by death penalty. If caught and if you have no acceptable reason and opinion, then you are most definitely rightful to receive it once it is officially out and in practice.

The reason why our government currently wants this to take effect is because they want to make their citizens feel safe and secured. By all of the things happening around us, a lot of people are getting scared in terms of being out and carefree. If this gets officially approved and practiced, many Filipinos will get reassured of their safety and contentment.
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