Posted by: oldmansjournal | August 12, 2012

Prayer and Meditation

Back in May, I wrote about prayer and even wrote why and how I pray.

I stopped writing my blogs since May. I do not know why. I just felt the same way after painting with acrylics when I stepped back to look at what was on my canvass. I would pull up a chair and look at the entirety of my painting from a distance to see what I have expressed in paint on material.

It is like prayer and meditation.

I pray to talk to my Maker. As I have written in May, “I pray in the morning as soon as I awake…every single morning. In the evening, before I lay to sleep…every single evening. I pray when I encounter fear. When in doubt of what to do, what to say, where to go, in time of uncertainty, I pray. When there is trouble in the world, in my community, in my family, I pray. I pray for myself, a loved one, even a foe or a stranger. I pray for the sick, for those who suffer, as well as for the healthy and happy. I pray for forgiveness and being able to forgive. I pray for luck, for success and for good health.”

Pray like you were talking to someone you trusted and someone who loves you and cares for you. Think about the time when you were confiding to your “bff”. If you were a male, it was during your “men talk”, “buddy huddles” or “father and son quality time.” If you were female, it was “girls or women’s talk”, “Mother Daughter confiding moments” and I guess even “Diary writing time?”

In His teaching on Prayer Jesus taught…

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room and close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask.” (Matthew 6: 5-8)

Meditation for me is what I do after prayer. I believe meditation is to spend time listening to God and being with God. I speak my heart and mind out when I pray. I listen during meditation and try to understand what He wants me to say and do. Since I have asked Him to take my hand and lead the way towards the path that He wants me to take, I then listen and try to understand His answers to my prayer.

Prayer and meditation to me is our two way conversation.

As I previously wrote, I pray because I believe in God. I believe there is a God. I believe I have a God. I pray to God. I communicate with MY God. I beg Him. I implore Him. I ask Him for anything and everything. Then I listen and then I thank Him.

Posted by: oldmansjournal | May 12, 2012

A Mother’s Love

I married the eldest of four daughters of a Lawyer and a stay-at-home Mom.

After my father-in-law passed away, my mother-in-law spent her years flying from Canada to the US, then to the Philippines and back to Canada as she stayed with the families of her four daughters. Two of her daughters live in Canada, one in the Philippines and another in the US. She lives her year in Canada for six months, three months in the Philippines and three in the US dividing her time as equally as possible for each family.

At 81 years of age, she still takes care of her daughters and their families. She is one woman who is always on the move. Talk about healthy living…her 80 is the new 50!

When her grandchildren were growing up, she babysat while her daughter’s family went out to work. When the family came home at the end of the day, dinner was ready, the laundry has been done and the house has been tidied up and the mess of strewn dirty clothes and what-have-you picked up and returned to their rightful places. Now that her grandchildren are all grown up, she is still a Nanny and a House Helper all rolled into one to everyone. She cooks, she sews, she cleans, and she is “Wonder Woman”!

She is also the “Federal Bank” of the family. When she sees a family struggle, she hands out financial assistance here and there without anyone asking for anything. She never waited for anyone to ask for help…in anything. She was always one step ahead and her timing was impeccable.

The thing is she does not have to do any of these… but she does!

She remembers all the birthdays of everyone, four daughters and their husbands, plus all ten grandchildren and a great grandson. Her way of spoiling the young ones is to give a birthday present six or seven months before the birthday date and having another gift during the actual celebration. Then she hands out a hundred or two any time one goes on a trip somewhere. She always finds a reason or an excuse to give.

Everyone in the family claims they are the favorite of “Lola” (a moniker she is lovingly called in lieu of Granny). I have watched her for years to see who she really favors among her daughters. Many have said my wife had the edge because she was the eldest. Many have said her favorite was the youngest. They were all wrong. She cared and loved for all four equally as I have witnessed her fair judgement in times of sibling rivalries. I have likewise seen her wise decisions not anchored in love but in fairness.

Friends and acquaintances wonder why I love and care for my mother-in-law like she was my own biological mother. My real mother died even before I married her daughter. She has always been a mother to me. She knows and cooks my favorite meals. She even does laundry of my clothes and underwear while my wife is at work! I am one lucky son-in-law.

If you still have a mother or a mother-in-law,,, and yours does not have to be like mine… please make every day of her remaining life a Mother’s Day and just thank your lucky star.

One can never define a mother’s love and it is futile to try.

Love is patient, love is kind,
Love does not insist on its own way.
Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails.
                            – I Corinthians 13:4-8

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers in the world!

Posted by: oldmansjournal | May 8, 2012

One America.

If you have not read my previous blog of April 25, 2012, please do so and read what I blogged about the subject of “Post-Secondary Education as an Entitlement of a U.S. Citizen”.

My daughter just sent me an email with a Harvard University Announcement to wit:

“No tuition and no student loans”

Harvard University announced over the weekend that from now on undergraduate students from
low-income families will pay no tuition. In making the announcement, Harvard’s president
Lawrence H. Summers said, “When only ten percent of the students in elite higher education come from families in the lower half of the income distribution, we are not doing enough. We are not doing enough in bringing elite higher education to the lower half of the income distribution.”

If you know of a family earning less than $60,000 a year with an honor student graduating from high school soon, Harvard University wants to pay the tuition. The prestigious university recently announced that from now on undergraduate students from low-income families can go to Harvard for free… no tuition and no student loans!

To find out more about Harvard offering free tuition for families making less than $60,000 a year, visit Harvard’s financial aid website at: call the school’s financial aid office at (617) 495-1581.


I thanked my daughter for this news.

This is a very tiny step towards my dream…an old man’s dream…but it is still a step towards its realization just the same.

In 1957 I was 17 attending the International Junior Red Cross Conference in India, I remember all attendees having been given a matchbox with three matchsticks before entering the conference hall. In those years past, matchboxes were common as almost the entire world smoked cigarettes.

The hall was well lit with multi-tiered chandeliers, which were original to the room that featured etched globes. The speaker was then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

As the Prime Minister stood behind the podium, all of the lights went off and the entire hall was engulfed by darkness. The Prime Minister’s voice then came out loud over the loudspeakers saying: “Please do not panic…it is only darkness. Please take out your matchsticks and at my count of three, strike them on the matchbox all at the same time. There was not a sound made except for the matchsticks being taken out of the boxes. Nehru then counted…one… two.. three… and Lord and behold, the entire hall lit up once more… not with the chandeliers… but with the tiny flickers of light illuminated from the tiny matchsticks!

The Prime Minister spoke once more… that is what unity can do! No matter how small you are, no matter how small we are, together… we can bring the light!

Again I call on to everyone who might have stumbled on this blog. I call on all students in all grades and school levels. I call on all parents. I call on all educators. I call on everyone.

I call on all the bloggers. Help! An old man like me cannot do this by myself. I am not a writer. All you bloggers who write beautiful articles…serious blogs… funny blogs… creative blogs… inspiring blogs… help me… for the sake of your families… your children… your children’s children.

If you spend some time on this, it will eventually be a reality. If you have toddlers in your family, it could happen in their lifetime. I put this challenge in your hands.

It is not for us to design the system. I say again that funding does not have to come from raised taxes.
It is a matter of priorities and this matter needs to be prioritized. Education of our youth must be first priority! Charity must begin at home…not foreign countries…our home…the American homes!

No politics…no Democrats, no Republicans…just Americans.

If there is a will, there is a way. Our elected officials have to start thinking about the future of our youth and the future of our country. Not just their constituents…but the entire American constituents. Push these politicians towards the goal and the wheel will turn on its own.

I alone cannot do it… but with all of us, we will be the tiny matchstick in all nooks and corners of America… and together, we will make this happen. Not tomorrow, maybe not this year…maybe… but one day in time… in our American time!

Posted by: oldmansjournal | May 4, 2012

Why do I pray?

A comment has been made to me…”so you mean praying can help me lose weight?”
I have not really thought of this one before.

Now let me think it….not in response to the writer who made the comment and neither to influence anyone, one way or the other. It is just me thinking out aloud.

I am not a Minister and neither am I a Deacon. Though I grew up under the influence of Jesuit education, I was never a fanatic nor an extreme Christian. My father advised me long time ago “never to discuss politics and religion with friends or relations.” I did not ask him why…for some reason, I just followed the advice.

What is a Prayer? The dictionary defines prayer as a devout petition to God or an object of worship. It is a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession. Prayer is the act or practice of praying to God or an object of worship.

When do I pray? In the morning as soon as I awake…every single morning. In the evening, before I lay to sleep…every single evening. I pray when I encounter fear. When in doubt of what to do, what to say, where to go, in time of uncertainty, I pray. When there is trouble in the world, in my community, in my family, I pray.

I pray for myself, a loved one, even a foe or a stranger. I pray for the sick, for those who suffer, as well as for the healthy and happy. I pray for forgiveness and being able to forgive. I pray for luck, for success and for good health.

Why do I pray? Faith. I pray because I believe in God. I believe there is a God. I believe I have a God. I pray to God. I communicate with MY God. I beg Him. I implore Him. I ask Him for anything and everything. I thank Him.

Does MY God listen? Yes. Always. For seven decades and some years I know He has. In His way, in mysterious ways, He delivers. I never asked why, when or how. I just never question.

Did he give me everything I asked for? No. He gave me only what was good for me at the time. Even the things that I thought were bad for me were actually good for me…in the long run. Everything has a reason, everything has a meaning. I never asked what or why. Those were His reasons. His meaning…but they were all good for me…eventually.

There were many given moments in my youth when I thought why did this thing happen to me? As a spoiled son that I was to Him I cried, I stumped my feet, I made a tantrum. Later, very much later, I always got my answer. Many times as a spoiled brat I got angry at Him and proclaimed He did not love me. Later, very much later, He made me realize how much I meant to Him.

Never did I question His existence. Never did He fail me on anything.

Did I pray to God to lose some weight in the past? Yes, after my heart attack, when the Doctor told me to do so to help bring down my cholesterol. I prayed for help for I enjoyed eating and I knew it would be difficult. Somehow, I got hold of a couple of books by Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn utilizing a vegetarian plant-based diet. I followed the strict diet…no meat whatsoever, no oil, no everything except fruits and vegetables. In three months, I dropped my weight from 186 to 150 lbs. Now, in moderation, I have gone back to eating skinless chicken and other “delicious” foods (steak once in every while) and still maintain my weight between 148 and 152 lbs.

I read somewhere that Marian Anderson, the great contralto singer said:

“Sometimes you’re overwhelmed when a thing comes, and you do not realize the magnitude of the affair at that moment. When you get away from it, you wonder, did it really happen to you.”

It is a matter of faith.

Posted by: oldmansjournal | May 3, 2012

Keep moving…be alive!

How many times did I get out of the house and as soon as I am out the door, I stop and say “where is my cell phone? Or where are my glasses? Or something?

Then I turn around, head back in, just to stand by the foyer and ask myself again, why did I come back in? What am I looking for now? Oh yes, my cell phone…or my glasses!

Lord, I think I am losing it! People at home are now making wagers when I step out on whether I will be back in a minute or not!

Is it old age? Or is it just because in this busy, busy world, I just don’t focus?

I don’t know. I have always tried to keep my brain fit through proper diet and routine mental health exercises. Please don’t talk about Alzheimer’s disease because it scares me to kingdom come. Since after my heart attack, I have tried to improve both my recall and mental focus because it also improves my energy level, my mood, my general health, and sense of well-being.

I have even tried simple tasks of writing and eating with my non-dominant hand. Yes I try ways that are different from my usual pattern hoping to provide my brain a good mental stretch. You think it is easy? Try it. I get by only by putting humor in my efforts by laughing at myself when I find it difficult.

If you are of my same age or older, turn off that TV and take a walk… start with a leisure walk around the block. After a week, increase it to two blocks. Then increase your pace from leisure to fast until you are doing a brisk walk maybe after a month or two. I know it will depend on your present ability. The trick is to do it based on what and how you feel. Do not over exert yourself.

The goal is to keep moving. Be in motion. I already wrote earlier that I take dance steps with coffee mug in hand from the kitchen to the living room. If I don’t spill the coffee and can keep in tune with the music, man, I am doing it!

So walk, dance, swim to your ability and heart’s delight. Moving in any shape or form, I read, is physical activity that increases the blood flow which oxygenate the brain. If you really want to take it to the next higher level, practice yoga and meditate. That will take away the daily stress for stress will only increase memory loss… and it is also a killer via cardiac problems.

Remember, with the help of the Lord,  the new forty is sixty and if you are much younger, the earlier you start the better.

Posted by: oldmansjournal | May 3, 2012

During these hard times

Before my heart attack, I used to drop a quarter in the Styrofoam cup held before me by one asking for alms as I turn the street corner. I used to hand out a dollar to a man or a woman by the stoplight holding a cardboard sign “anything helps.”

After my heart attack, I do not do that anymore.

In the morning, especially during cold mornings, I go to McDonalds or Jack in the Box and buy a couple of breakfast meals. Hot coffee and some breakfast sandwiches. Then I seek out these people standing in the cold and give them what I just bought.

In Bellingham I find them by the entrance to Bellis Fair Mall…or by Lakeway Drive exit on I-5. Farther south, I will find one or two of them by the College Way I-5 exit at Mt. Vernon or in the heart of downtown Seattle.

Up north, I never miss them by the steps of the stairs to the Cathedral on Dunsmuir Street in Vancouver British Columbia or on Broadway by Laurel street right by the door of Tim Horton’s.

Yes, I have been told that by doing so I do encourage pan handling. I say however that it is between the person and his Maker. The person asking for alms or “anything that helps” must really be in need…for them to stand out in the cold and even under the rain!

If not so, then that is their concern. Everyone will one day be held accountable anyway.

I try to remember…
‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

So I still do it as regularly as I can for it really makes me happy inside thinking that doing so is the reason why I am still around.

Posted by: oldmansjournal | May 2, 2012

Take it to the next higher level.

In 2002 I had a heart attack…I really don’t know…but that is what they say. I remember I went to bed early that September evening and the next thing I knew was I woke up five days later in a hospital bed. Everyone says I was in a coma… I was a 20 seconds flat liner…yet to me, that evening was just going to sleep…a very long sleep!

Since then and up to the present, I have asked myself…did I really die? If so, why am I still here? Did I experience that “out of life thing” I was asked? “Did I see that light at the end of the tunnel?”

“What is life all about anyway?” I asked myself many late nights and early mornings when sleep would not come to take me momentarily away from this world.

Then it dawned on me. To live this life only for its pleasure must not be the right way. Yes I have been told to enjoy life… enjoy the journey. Then again there is “success is sweeter after a long and difficult journey to reach it.”

Many successful souls have claimed that success came because they “worked hard and played hard.’ Many of us however often fail to hear the part about “working hard.” We just heard what we wanted to hear and that was the part “play hard.”

Work does not relate to employment alone. Work is every minute of one’s life. So I after 2002, I decided to take my life work to the next higher level.

Take my writing my journal as a blog. As a new blogger, I find it hard to write a blog daily. I need time. Luckily, I have plenty of time. I cannot just write what comes to mind. I am not a writer. I have always marveled at those who wrote straight from their mind pounding the keyboard keys and effortlessly produce a written article.

I must think of what to write. I must also spell check and read and reread my blog many times before I publish what I wrote. I find it unfair to readers to read misspelled words. I also have to know that I am using the right words. The grammar needs to be right and proper. Being human however, I know I will still falter at times.

I have seen a few blogs with so many misspelled words. Not in one blog but repeatedly in the blogs written by the same author. That is awful! At least use the spell check or a dictionary!

Time is precious and since what I write is seen by the public, I must ensure that whoever spends time reading what I wrote gets something back for their time. If I can make someone smile, or if can get to make the reader think “oh yeah” or if I can impart a beautiful thought, a lesson in life or anything worth the reader’s time, that would be good.

If they “liked” what I wrote, that will even be better.

Posted by: oldmansjournal | April 28, 2012

Vancouver, British Columbia…and Time.

My Vancouver !

When I first drove up to Vancouver, British Columbia from Seattle, Washington in 1973, the stretch of Interstate 5 to the Peace Arch border crossing in the small border town of Blaine was a very long and lonely drive.

The car radio kept me awake with the music of the 70’s…“Bridge over troubled water”, “Close to you” and “American woman”. Yes, the music of the time. Songs like ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head by B.J. Thomas. Very different yet still somehow the same as Michael Bubble’s “Home” and “I need you now’ by Lady Antebellum.

I must have seen no more than a dozen vehicles heading towards both directions as I drove past the mountainside road from Mount Vernon through the city of Bellingham to the border town of Blaine. As I looked straight out the windshield during the entire drive, I-5 was just a long straight path of concrete that turned into a thin black line towards the horizon.

The Peace Arch border crossing outpost was a shack compared to what they now have. What has not changed is the monument that just keeps getting a fresh coat of paint every time.

The sign on one side of the monument says “Children of the same mother” in recognition of the first immigrants to the New World from Mother England. Both flags of Canada and the USA fly majestic on top of the monument.

“Brethren dwelling together in Unity” is inscribed on the Canadian side of the monument. It seems to reflect the rainbow of skin color in Canada and the US with the influx of immigrants from Asia and all other countries of the world.

In 1973, Vancouver was a ghost town if you drove into the city on a Sunday. Stores were all closed and the streets were bare and empty. At home or in church is where everyone seems to give meaning to the scripture “Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God”.

I am sure that the transformation of Vancouver as a city has been written in a book somewhere. The internet documents everything about Vancouver, the before and the now.

Expo of 1986 showcased Vancouver to the world and as they say “build it and they will come”…they did, they surely came.

Winter Olympics, last February 2010 was another showcase. In more than three and a half decades since the 70s, Vancouver has transformed itself now to a city comparable to Paris, London, Barcelona and other great travel destinations of Europe and the world.

Vancouver is now a universal city… a multicultural Mecca and a kaleidoscope of skin color, culture and heritage. Universal food abound. French, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Thai, you name it, they have it. They have the high end steakhouse Hy’s and Gotham; there is Morton of Chicago and Bosco, as well as the world famous salmon place Tea House of Stanley Park. There is the award-winning Tojo on Broadway and the regular Joe’s authentic Japanese “Hache Bei” on West 16th between Willow and Heather streets. Chinese cuisine is at Imperial on Burrard and “Copa Café” on Cambie Street by King Edward.

Tourists flock to shop at Robson Street, the Beverly Hills, the Ginza, and the Place Vendome of Vancouver.

Time is an immeasurable part of life that we often take for granted.

As we recently sat and ate chicken barbecue on rice at Pinpin’s, a Filipino-Chinese restaurant on south Fraser and 45th, my mind traveled back to the 1950s when we, as students of Ateneo de Manila went to our classmate Victor’s Aristocrat restaurant on Dewey Boulevard in the Philippines. We sat and ate the same barbecue on rice.

A different time, a different place but the same delicious chicken on a stick long before “finger lickin good” became an ad slogan.

Enjoy the journey because time is one thing that goes and never comes back.


Posted by: oldmansjournal | April 25, 2012

Post-Secondary Education as a US Citizen Entitlement

Wake up American Youth!

I read the news last night which reported “President Barack Obama and his likely GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, agree on an issue of importance to college students: Keeping the interest rate low on a popular federally subsidized student loan issued to low-and middle-income students.”

“The interest rate is scheduled to double on July 1 from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on subsidized Stafford loans unless Congress acts. About 7 million undergraduates would be affected, raising costs by an average of $1,000 each, according to the White House.”

I do not believe in student loans. I believe that secondary education of any American citizen MUST be an entitlement!

One of the things I wish for before the Lord calls me is to see this scenario anywhere in the US: Any US citizen upon high school graduation must have been evaluated as to what career he/she qualifies to pursue. Upon admission in the university, college or technical school, his/her tuition and books are paid for by the government.

Freedom to be what you can be!

Only in my dreams? Maybe…but everything starts from a dream. Michael, the archangel came to Joseph in a dream. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream.

Today’s American youth is consumed in text sing, surfing the web, tweeting, YouTube, video games and what not. Not too long ago, the Egyptian youth toppled Mubarak and the Libyans deposed Kaddafi through text, tweeter, YouTube and cellphone video.

We have in the US the American Student Government Association as the professional organization that serves and supports collegiate Student Governments nationwide. It’s Member Institutions: 1,119 in 50 States.

Is the education of our youth too expensive to handle without raising taxes? Are taxes the only answer to get our youth out of being 25th in the world in math and science?

The annual salary of a rank-and-file Congressional Representative in 2011 is $174,000.The Speaker gets $223,500 and the two party leaders get $193,400. Members of Congress vote themselves salary increases while the ordinary American senior did not get COLA for two years in a row. In the meantime, Members of Congress cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase takes effect annually unless Congress votes to not accept it.

The Iraq War – tallying up the costs and benefits of a nine-year ordeal is a daunting task. Estimates on Iraq War spending vary. The Congressional Research Service has put the Operation Iraqi Freedom price tag at $806 billion. President Obama said that the Iraq War would cost over $1 trillion, all told.

Charity begins at home. American education MUST be free. Primary grades to post-secondary education must be an entitlement for every American citizen!

Here is a list of countries that provide their citizens FREE education.
• Brazil
• Denmark
• Finland
• Greece
• Hungary
• Norway
• Scotland
• Sri Lanka
• Sweden
• Trinidad and Tobago
• Barbados
• Kenya
America can still be the greatest nation in the world…but only if we educate our youth!
Wake up American youth. 2012 is election year. Can you imagine if every 18 year old American went to register and vote for free post-secondary education? Can you imagine if every Junior and Senior High School student rallied to the cause this election season?
Oh if only one could be seventeen again.


Posted by: oldmansjournal | April 24, 2012

It was a beauti…

It was a beautiful day last Saturday at the Pacific Northwest.
It was a great day to drive to Portland, Oregon and find a place of solitude, peace and prayer.
So there I was at the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother called “The Grotto.”

It was a beautiful environment conducive to quiet and spiritual inspiration from the moment I drove past the main entrance and all through the winding walkways that led me to the shrine of Our Lady’s Grotto. A life-size marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta is featured in the center of a rock cave carved into the base of a 110-foot cliff.

I learned that the story of the Grotto began just before the start of the twentieth century, when a young boy learned that his mother lay near death after giving birth to a daughter. The story narrated that in tears the boy ran to the little parish church where he prayed for his mother’s life, promising that if she were spared he would one day undertake a great work for the church. His mother survived and the future Father Ambrose Mayer never forgot his promise.

Father Mayer was sent by his Servite superiors to minister in the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon. All the while, he was always looking for a site on which to build a suitable tribute to Mary, the mother of Jesus (and thus fulfill his promise). Father Mayer came across some acreage in 1923 which was owned by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Thereafter, he was determined that the property was ideal for the realization of his dream. He then made a bid for the property with all that he had – $3,000.00 – and his offer was accepted. On May 29, 1924, the Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother was dedicated by Portland Archbishop Alexander Christie.

A grotto was hewn from the base of the 110-foot basalt cliff where an altar was constructed, above which was placed the full-sized replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta. This became the sanctuary for an outdoor church where Sunday Mass has been celebrated during the summer months ever since.

Over the years the shrine, popularly called The Grotto, became known throughout North America as a center of devotion to Our Lady and as a place of solitude, peace and prayer as described by Archbishop Christie during the 1924 dedication ceremony.

After I spent unstinting period of time on the upper level of the cliff side’s Meditation Chapel, I felt an indescribable calm as I came down with uplifted spirits from my quiet and peaceful commune with my Lord and Master.

As I walked to my car for the long drive back to Seattle, I thought I would share this wonderful weekend experience with anyone who mightImageImage one day make the same trip to find what I found in this extra-ordinary place in Portland, Oregon.

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