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BLOG 9: 2.24.2020

from corona peril to yellow peril

Last December 31, 2019,  a viral pneumonia outbreak occurred in Wuhan, China, and has infected 27 people. Timeskip to the midweeks of January 2020, the sickness broke out in Thailand and Japan. Meanwhile, the WHO (World Health Organization) has identified it as a new strain of coronavirus, a severe respiratory disease that starts with a fever and eventually brings a person to the hospital.












This epidemic has taken the world into a storm as if the threats of WW3, the Australian bush fires, and the shocking death of a basketball legend wasn't enough to give 2020 a rocky start. In the process, the emergence of the virus has not only sparked a rush for an immediate cure and induced global panic. It has revealed the underlying social illnesses that have been swimming through humanity for centuries. Take, for instance, xenophobia. By definition, it is the fear of people from other countries, and, lately, it has been the Asians who have taken an enormous hit. Why? Online users have blamed the consumption of bat soup for the coronavirus, and the delicacy itself has come from a so-called wildlife market in Wuhan, China. Truth be told, that assumption originated from a video of a well-known Chinese influencer indulging in bat soup at Palau, a Pacific island. Partaking in unique dishes such as bat soup and Peruvian roasted guinea pig has always been on the bucket list of the gastronomically adventurous.

At the height of the emotional frenzy, the video has reached the Western world. In effect, it renewed the ancient myth of 'dirty' foreigners, especially Asians. This myth has been mixed with another xenophobic stance that the Chinese are disease carriers as well. From this standpoint, it seems that the 'Yellow Peril' of WW2 has resurged. Personally, I have seen Facebook memes and videos of Asian people consuming live or cooked creatures such as insects and mice. These posts have been shared by friends as well, but with the intent of laughter. 

Although it's mostly the Chinese, Japanese, or Koreans who are targeted, some who are just ordinarily sick with lousy flu or a cough, aren't spared. For example, I have a Filipino friend who experienced being misjudged by a female passenger in a jeepney. She was coughing several times, but she was wearing a mask and even covered it with a handkerchief. Then, the woman beside her, said, "You shouldn't have ridden the jeepney and just keep on coughing!"

My friend answered back by saying that it's not a mortal sin to cough, and the Coronavirus-induced panic has brought people to be narrow-minded. This narrow-mindedness has led others to believe that once someone coughs, he or she has Coronavirus. Due to this influence, everyone else out there inflicted with illness, Chinese or not, cannot receive proper treatment due to health discrimination. 

Recently during LangLit class, we tackled the concept of global citizenship, and it is more needed than ever. Being a global citizen means one must be well-informed of current events and can creatively come up with solutions. This global epidemic certainly tests our capacity to be practical individuals and avoid rash fixer-uppers. More importantly, I noticed that a huge factor of the Coronavirus aggravation was the limited facts presented online, fake news, and hoaxes. To counter the problem, I believe being a socio-alert critical thinker can help greatly. This can be achieved by reading from sound sources such as BBC and Rappler. This plight also calls for the need for people to be unified. Coming from an international school, this serves as an opportunity for us to bump heads together as multiple perspectives can think up various solutions.

In general, the hysteria and alarm caused by the news dissemination of the Coronavirus can be linked to the power of language. Through the manipulation of facts, twisted versions of present happenings are popping up everywhere. Moreover, xenophobia, Yellow Peril, and white man's burden were terms coined by the West, fearing that they will be outnumbered by the East or the Other. These words have long shaped the history between the two worlds. They have established binaries of master-and-slave, strong-and-weak, civilized-and-savage. This truly exemplifies the belief that the world runs on social constructs.

& we just got started... - Imgur.jpg

BLOG 8: 2.12.2020

When I watched Vanity Fair's Billie Eilish interview, my first thought was like, "Okay. We're watching this for class. For another blog.", and a few minutes into her interview, I was thinking," She's fantastic and pretty wise for her age. I love her mentality." 

Actually, she's inspiring. She managed to become a better person under a crazy spotlight and a lot of pressure on her. When I was 15 and 16, I was more concerned about how to pass my subjects and whether I did my homework or not. I'm happy that she survived her lowest points in life. I'm happier that she didn't herself get dragged down and didn't negatively impact her musical passion. 

I like how Vanity Fair put together a video like that, a time capsule. Billie Eilish's 2018 self was put side-to-side with her current self. Present Billie would watch her previous self answer the same question, and she would explain, laugh, or comment something unrelated. Vanity Fair crafted something that would make people contemplate their future, reflect on their past, and how much they have changed.

 In the interview, Billie Eilish opens up about her opinions, beliefs, and dislikes. By revealing some aspects of her personal life, I have come to see that being famous doesn't exempt someone from facing common teen problems and early to midlife crises. Watching her answer the same questions in different years has shown me that over time, our mindsets change because of the things we've done (achievements or mistakes), the people who came in and out of our lives, and events that we have no control of like a friend's death. Another factor that significantly changed Eilish was her album's completion and its overwhelming success.

In some part, Bille Eilish's answers hit me home like how she answered about giving too much attention to other people's lives, not focusing on hers, and how conscious she is on doing something that she doesn't really want to do like performing a show. Her perspective of those certain behavioral aspects is relatable because, during one time or another, I had similarly experienced it. 

Meanwhile, she also represented a sect of the entertainment industry that is all too familiar with shocking headlines, and those are the disclosed depressed artists. During the interview, she openly admitted to being depressed and how some of her fellow artists weren't far from experiencing that as well. After that admission, she somehow clarified that not everyone in the entertainment industry is depressed. I'm sure that some of us believed in the sad star stereotype, and knowing that we weren't exactly wrong or right either is a bit mind-boggling.

 Speaking of mind-boggling, I managed to find a link between Billie Eilish's story and Margaret Atwood's "The Woman Who Could Not Live With Her Faulty Heart." The poem most certainly focuses on the narrator's uncertainty or indecisiveness, as seen in the line," My heart is more duplicitous, though to twin as I once thought. It says I want, I don't want, I want, and then a pause."

 However, I also think that the poem doesn't refer to the realistic heart or the symbolic heart either despite the appearance vs. reality imagery portrayed in the first two stanzas. I think it relates to the brain since all of our emotions stem from there, the very sentiments that drive our actions. I state this because when we sleep, our mind is still active. In the fifth and sixth stanzas, three lines refer to our brain's activity, which is the following: "and at night it is the infra-red third eye that remains open. It is a constant pestering in my ears, a caught moth, limping drum, a child's fist beating itself against the bedsprings: I want, I don't want." 

 Going back to Billie Eilish's interview, she shared about her lowest points during the years 2017-2019 and how it influenced her mindset towards her work. Coincidentally, her latest album is entitled "When We All Fall Sleep, Where Do We Go", which could relate to our sleep-reference in the poem.

 Another connection between Billie Eilish's story and the poem can be found in the last stanza. When Billie was asked on what was her approach towards songwriting, she answered that she writes whatever she likes. When she tried writing songs that are more aligned with popular taste, she found it difficult, so she started writing her way. This can be linked with the line, "Long ago I gave up singing to it, it will never be satisfied or lulled." 

 The last connection I could find between Billie was in the previous three lines, "One night, I will say to it: Heart, be still, and it will." When Eilish was asked what she's planning to do next year, she answered she won't do something different just for the sake of changing. She said she'll do whatever she wants. She is going to do what she wants. 

The handmaid's tale

The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. It depicts the what-if world of Gilead, where women are only valued for their bodies. Offred, the protagonist, is a Handmaid, and a Handmaid is to be the childbearing substitute for the Commanders' barren wives. Before becoming a Handmaid, she was in a relationship with a married man named Luke, and they had a daughter. Throughout the novel, Offred narrates current events happening in her life and would often give the readers flashbacks of her previous life. Despite her unknown ending, she managed to break free from Gileadan beliefs mentally.

Reading the novel made me feel curious about what other things could be manipulated for the sake of control. If the book can portray the restriction of women's reproductive freedom, what are the other unthinkable options? Also, the novel alarmed me on how the global and current situation of women nearing to that Atwood's dystopia. As my group analyzes Margaret Atwood's work in the upcoming weeks, I hope that we can answer whether freedom is a social construct or not.

February 4, 2020


Robin Dombroff states that gender is a social construct. However, for some communities, gender being a social construct would be a ridiculous idea. For them, gender is the same as sex. If you have a particular set of parts, you would be a woman, but if you have a different set, you are a man. Sex is based on one's anatomy. 


Meanwhile, Robin Dombroff argues that gender goes as far as dressing up, eating, and talking. She based on Simone de Beauvoir's statement that says gender is the social interpretation of sex. Another example she added was research conducted by Kate Mara, which states that if someone is classified as a female in a patriarchal society, it means that she should be constricted and lenient, or else she would be punished. With this statement, I can connect it to Mr. Gjisber's idea of identity that someone or something is part of a more massive structure.


Back home, I have friends who are members of the LGBTQ community. Some have are currently studying in college, have graduated, or have jobs already. A few prefer to loiter in sari-sari stores or computer cafes. Before, when the LGBTQ community was being frowned upon and shunned, people had the perception that those LGBTQ members would achieve nothing in life. However, over time, they became professionals and decided to contribute to society. I know two or three who are teachers in a public school, and I am acquainted with a lot in their twenties, who are part of my town's youth council. I can say that my friends are changing the old-fashioned perception of good-for-nothing homosexuals.


To top it off, I think gender really is a social construct because there is the invisible and heavy burden of societal expectations hanging above women and men alike. Women are expected to stay at home and be a dutiful mother/wife. Meanwhile, men are expected to venture out and be the sole breadwinner of the family. Women should be sensitive, while men should be tough. The list could go on and on about the do and don'ts of society.

January 29, 2019



Being a global citizen means that an individual is globally-socio conscious and is capable of creatively thinking of comprising solutions. Meanwhile, service-learning is an educational environment wherein students participate in activities that instill leadership and social awareness. Service-learning is not merely limited to the four corners of the classroom. It promotes the concept of academic excellence for service.

One such example of a service-learning environment would be students going on immersions to rural communities and live with a family for a day. They do household chores like babysitting, cooking, and fetching water from wells. 

Structure-wise, Margaret Atwood's poem, "You Begin," is composed of 35 freestyle lines and divided into 6 stanzas. Also, it is written in the second-person point of view." You Begin" rings out a mentor-and-mentee dynamic. The mentor/narrator can either be a parent, guardian, or Reality itself. 

Word Collage

Reality is teaching the child that his or her world is not determined by the color of nine crayons. The world has more shades than the eye can see. Not only does it have more shades, but there are also more words than a child's innocuous mind can think of. Similar to a child, an adult is helpless as well in the face of the world's vast knowledge. On the other hand, the poem's transition from a simple intro to a complicated penultimate can connotate that the so-called child character is growing up. 

What was prominent in the poem was the word 'hand.' It was repeated several times, especially at the third to the last stanza. The lines 24-29 demonstrates that 'hand' is simply a label, a title given to an object for the sake of having one to simplify matters. That is why hand can mean other things and not only as a human body part. The expression "Lend me a hand." means to help someone. 

Also, I saw that IB concepts like communication, culture, and perspective were all in at play in the poem. The poem's situation can be pictured out in many ways. It can be about artificial intelligence or a man/woman talking to themselves, reminiscing about their loss of innocence. It all depends on the reader's imagination and culture, his/her learning circumstances would have influenced their literary views. It might have been different for Margaret Atwood. Communication was heavily featured, especially on how the author manipulated language to discreetly discuss the power of speech. However, it cannot be easily discerned in the third to the last stanza. 

The existence of this so-called treachery of language is further supported by David Lynch's (a filmmaker who was brought up during our class) artistic perspective. For him, the written word is a potent weapon since it morphs meanings. It differentiates you from me. One of his examples was how dead flies all looked alike until he gave each a name. 

Realizing that our world runs on standardized definitions, recently, I have read a non-literary that pertains to what truly defines a 'refugee.' It is about how climate change negatively impacts certain areas of the world by the rise of sea levels. In a move for survival, people move to more 'prosperous' and 'safer' areas, which in turn, results in overcrowding and quarreling over scarce resources like potable water. Problems like these would encourage people to seek greener pastures in other countries. These seek asylum because they no longer feel safe in their native lands. The conflict is not all countries have the same laws and policies when it comes to refugees.

 The text "It is time to change the definition of refugee" was published on January 26, 2020, on Aljazeera's editorial webpage. From what I've researched, Aljazeera is known to be controversial and Muslim-biased, but the text's writer, Bill Frelick, is the director of the Human Right's refugee program. I couldn't spot the pathos in the article since it's mostly composed of facts and statistics. 

Moreover, our class discussions have enriched my perspective on how powerful language is. Imagine that the word 'ugly' could have been beautiful as well. Imagine that being called weak was telling you that you have strength. It's true that through language, there are many possibilities, so are the limitations. Think about it. Maybe the world isn't a world after all.

December 9,2019


keep prez-ing on

Screen Shot 2019-12-09 at 11.20.51

Miriam Grace A. Go, a Rappler writer, wrote how President Rodrigo Duterte refused to renew the ABS-CBN franchise, which is due to expire this year. She directly stated that the President's personal reasons might have influenced his decision. During the May 2016 elections, ABS-CBN refused to air his political advertisements in their network. She wrote how Duterte could not order a non-renewal of a broadcast franchise since that is a Congress privilege. In addition to that, his defeated VP candidate Peter Cayetano has a 'personal' complaint against ABS-CBN as well. 

This is simply a blunt power play. The author's message rang loud and clear throughout the article. Social freedom is under threat. With the refusal of the now-renewal of one of the nation's leading broadcast stations, this could be one more step towards the doom of the Philippine press.


From what I have researched, Miriam Go is recognized as an outstanding alumna of the UP College of Mass Communication and has co-authored several political books. She is also the current news editor of Newsbreak, award-winning online news, and current affairs magazine. Based on her journalistic and academic achievements, I can say that her Rappler article is a mirror of her thoughts. The thoughts of an intellectual who only wishes the best for her democratically dying country.


As I read, there was no explicit call for her audience to take action against this issue. Still, there were particular implications on what the readers should feel. How does she evoke pathos without any direct statement or word that pertains to emotion?

She used logos for most of her writing. She mentioned several anti-press instances that the nation has endured throughout the years. Such examples are as follows: how the Philippines was ranked as the deadliest country in Asia for journalists during 2017and how we have the most number of unresolved murders of journalists in the world. She brought up the infamous fact of how the President is degrading towards the press, calling the practitioners "presstitutes."

By building her article on facts, well-known controversial remarks, and her opinion meshed in as well, she would have certainly provoked a reader's anger, shame, and disgust on the country's current socio-political climate.

December 2, 2019



Alex Tizon’s ‘My Family’s Slave’ gave a modern and realistic depiction of the master-slave relationship as compared to Carol Ann McDuffy’s romanticized version in Warming Her Pearls. He places Eudocia ‘Lola’ Tomas Pulido. 


First and foremost, his article was definitely a tearjerker. I couldn’t imagine helplessly witnessing such cruelty, let alone experience it. Secondly, it was astonishing how Alex shaped the narrative despite being a child of Lola’s oppressors. Aside from my astonishment, I found it questionable why Alex just stood by and watched his parents maltreat Lola.


It was only after his mother’s death during his forties that he was able to help her. Was he held back during his younger years, by the Filipino tradition of never talking back to parents? Or was it pure cowardice? 


Thirdly, I think he publicized Lola’s story, not for publicity’s sake, but as penance for his inaction. A confession to the world. The tale of the American dream with a hidden nightmarish lining to it in the form of contemporary slavery.


For those who seek to change the world one step at a time, and to those who are knowledge-hungry or just looking for a reason to have a good cry, this Pulitzer Prize winner’s article is a must-read.


Alex Tizon with Lola

Image by Sydney Sims

Sad to say, problems like these don’t come and go the way people do. Take depression as an example. Despite its ‘trendiness’ in the post-millennial age, it has been here far longer than antidepressants and social media. Recently, two of my classmates had touched this topic when they analyzed Margaret Atwood’s A Sad Child.


In the poem, they brought upon how the author addressed depression as it is, not in an obligatory or solemn way. They pointed out the writing techniques used to delegate the message on how everyone, especially children, is vulnerable to depression.


Another idea that they tackled was how depression was prevalent in showbiz. I believe that it was good that my classmates brought light to the situation since there have been reported suicidal celebrity cases in the past few months. More importantly, their presentation brought something fresh to my perspective on mental welfare. I learned that, though mentioned several times before, how depression can’t be materially stopped. Everyone can be a victim. It can be Angelina Jolie or the boy next door.

October 8, 2019


 The idiom "seeing the world in rose-colored glasses" means being overly optimistic. However, perspective is not only limited in idioms or any other metaphorical style. It goes along with our mindsets as well and in literature, we can differently view texts via literary theory.

Literary theory is a set of intellectual perspectives used to analyze text. These perspectives are essential in the sense that it broadens the readers' horizons and challenges them to think outside the box. Applying the theories assist the audience in further understanding the theme, the influential factors, and the text structure.

My group discussed New Historicism / Cultural Materialism. This theory states how the historical, social, and economic events of a given period affected the text's development. In short, the reader has to open a history book to understand the text.



One good example of this theory's application would be Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ozymandias. Historically speaking, Ozymandias is the Greek name of Ramses II. Shelley's poem connotates that the king prioritizes his legacy over his people. The fact that Ramses' most well-known contribution would be his funerary temple, the Ramesseum, supports this connotation. As for our symbol, Kyra drew several mini personifications of history, society and economy shaping a book. Thus, translating our theory into an image.

Another group presented New Criticism, which was formerly called Formalism or Structuralism. This theory studies the text ALONE in a literal and figurative context. The reader seeks to further his/her understanding by examining the author's writing styles and conventions, identifying poetic devices, noting the character development, and tracing the plot structure. One such example would be Margaret Atwood's 'Siren Song'. If you deconstruct it, her poem is written in a feminist view.


The IB program moves away from New Criticism because the learning style focuses way beyond the literal context, using the concepts of identity, perspective, etc. The theory's symbol is a magnifying glass hovering above a text. It represents "close reading." Close reading focuses mostly on form, creates a more accurate depiction. 

Overall, literary theory is not only applicable to literature alone. It opens up a buffet of individual perspectives in life. You can be the anti-capitalist proclaiming his beliefs in front of a company tower. You can be the ideal housewife yet an active feminist. You can be the student who takes everything literally. You can be the historically-biased local know-it-all. Regardless of whether you want to see the world in rose-colored lenses or not, it all narrows down to your choice.


going outside the box

September 9, 2019


re-thinking the norm

" This creates yet another unanswerable question of what defines Filipino. It circles back to whether it's determined by the time spent in the Philippines or if you speak the language. If culture is impossible to define, why is it my classmate feels shame when she doesn't have enough of it?"

- Dom Trajano, 2019

Image by Avel Chuklanov
Image by Cris Tagupa
Image by Toa Heftiba
Image by Frank Lloyd de la Cruz
Image by Vernon Raineil Cenzon

According to my classmate, we have this unanswerable question of what defines Filipino. Is it the time spent here in the Philippines or the cultural circumstances you were raised in?

For me, if only speaking English is independent of cultural definition, it would assure everyone, especially non-English speakers, that it doesn't define their social standing whether you live in the Philippines or not.

As a pure-blooded Filipino, I never had any cultural identity crisis since I've been living here for most of my life. I've played Filipino games, listened to OPM, and indulged in Filipino food. I also had my fair share of foreign influences, but I have never been confused or whatsoever. In short, Dom's blog challenged me to think outside my world.

However, this wasn't the first time that some realizations dawned on me. Margaret Atwood's 'Siren Song' had the honor of doing that. In class, we discussed the 7 concepts of Conceptual Learning and applied each one to the poems we've reviewed. I'm going to talk about the COMMUNICATION and TRANSFORMATION of Siren Song. 

Here's an overview of what is transformation and communication based on my first journal entry under Conceptual Learning. 


1. TRANSFORMATION is how the literary text can influence a reader's worldviews.


2. COMMUNICATION is how the literary text establishes an author-reader relationship by using various writing styles and text structure.


Margaret Atwood

Ulysses and the Sirens by Herbert James Draper (1909)

Siren Song

by Margaret Atwood

This is the one song everyone

would like to learn: the song

that is irresistible:


the song that forces men

to leap overboard in squadrons

even though they see the beached skulls


the song nobody knows

because anyone who has heard it

is dead, and the others can't remember.


Shall I tell you the secret

and if I do, will you get me

out of this bird suit?


I don't enjoy it here

squatting on this island

looking picturesque and mythical


with these two feathery maniacs,

I don't enjoy singing

this trio, fatal and valuable.


I will tell the secret to you,

to you, only to you.

Come closer. This song


is a cry for help: Help me!

Only you, only you can,

you are unique


at last. Alas

it is a boring song

but it works every time.

As we read, the tone changes from a storytelling type to a helpless and confessional kind. It further draws us in since the differing writing style stimulates our 'heroic side.' 

Therefore, the text structure successfully establishes a relationship between author and reader. In this case, it is a-hero-and-victim kind of link. By using the words, "Only you, only you can, you are unique," the siren made us feel like we are the Chosen One. To further illustrate my point, here is another example of how it establishes a-hero-and-victim link with the help of the classic damsel-in-distress trope.


I will tell the secret to you,

to you, only to you.

Come closer. This song


is a cry for help: Help me!

Where is TRANSFORMATION in this poem?

However, spotting the transformation here requires your literary analyzing eyeglasses. From what we have discussed as a group, the changes happen mentally and physically. As for the poem's physical change, Margaret Atwood gives the siren a voice which later on forms into an identity uniquely hers. Take for instance the second three stanzas.

Shall I tell you the secret

and if I do, will you get me

out of this bird suit?


I don't enjoy it here

squatting on this island

looking picturesque and mythical


with these two feathery maniacs,

I don't enjoy singing

this trio, fatal and valuable.


The mental and physical transformations are equally dramatic, but, in my opinion, the mental aspect is more appealing. Why? Because it is ironic that the reader is aware of who or what the siren is yet he/she is still lured in. Margaret Atwood's 'Siren Song lives up to the fact that danger truly excites us.

Source of poem: Siren Song |

August 20, 2019


a clowning glory


understatement of the century:

"I don't feel any pressure right now."

-Janina San Miguel, 2008

My first reaction to her answer was just like everyone else. I laughed at her cringe-worthy grammar and distinct Filipino accent. Afterward, I couldn't help but feel pity towards her since she embarrassed herself on national tv. Her interview blunder will forever be alive in articles, memes, and Youtube.

 If you put on your socially-sensitive googles, the Barbie Doll-like expectations on pageant candidates are discreetly evident on the video. Also, stereotyping plays a role. If you are beautiful, you must be equally brilliant as well. Living in a country that worships the West, English fluency represents class and education. Ironically, a foreign language is highly valued here in the Philippines to the point that it has become a medium of learning instruction and communication alongside Filipino.


The irony is we love it more than our mother tongue, and we love the language of our colonizers. It's the colonial mentality, people!


Colonial mentality means foreign is better and local is lame.


Most people think that colonial mentality started with the Americans or even with the Spanish. It predated colonial rule. In our Philippine epics, fair skin is mentioned several times, and it was synonymous with beauty.


Fair skin is often linked with the binukots, a secluded group of people who, at a young age, were kept indoors. A female binukot is considered to be the most beautiful woman in the community. She isn't exposed to the sun and not allowed to do heavy work. That results in her being a fair-skinned and beautiful yet frail woman.

It was the beginning of that kind of Filipino beauty standard. When the Spaniards came, some intermarriages produced our mestizos/mestizas ( a mix of Filipino and foreign ancestry). 



The entertainment and mass media industry heavily favors those mestizos/mestizas despite their beings composing only a fraction of the nation's population. 













Another example would be the demand for skin-whitening products. Check out the slideshow below.

The colonial mentality has integrated itself into our cranial genes. It has evolved to become one of our uniquely Filipino traits. Come to think of it. Philippine history has divided itself into two. Patriotism ran in our blood and blood has been shed for patriotism. We have become overly Westernized.

Moreover, the interview itself wasn't the most important thing. It wasn't the grammar nor the accent. Both can be learned quickly but character formation takes time. Reactions towards Janina's interview spoke more about individual personalities rather than intellectuals.

Our present actions would be the undoing of yesterday's sacrifices. Our centuries-old fight for independence and the heroes that fought for it was our crowning glory. Please don't make our forefathers the clowns.



Hey there!


I am Janelle Colada and what you're going to read in this blog will be the refined ramblings of a 16-year-old who's living her life and just trying to survive the IB program. Feel the teenage angst in opinions about anything and everything. Also, I love football and midnight tricycle joyrides with friends.

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