Thursday, June 30, 2016

Paglaki Ko, Gusto Ko Maging Kwentista Room in Museo Pambata

A week ago, I received an email from Museo Pambata President, Nina Lim Yuson, informing me that the Paglaki Ko, Gusto Ko Maging Kuwentista Room will soon be open to the public. Here's a snippet of Ms. Yuson's letter that really made my day.

Museo Pambata is very happy and excited to finally launch/open the exhibit on the Storyteller or Kwentista. This will be on July 26, Tuesday at 2 pm in the Career Options/Paglaki Ko Gusto Kong Maging..theme room at Museo Pambata.

This interactive area was designed by Conrad Raquel in collaboration with Museo Pambata's Exhibit Department.

All six of you were chosen for your love for storytelling, children and books. We hope to inspire kids and adults to be good storytellers, like you through the exhibits.

In a previous post, I wrote about being chosen as one of the storytellers who is featured in the exhibit. It was in August 2015 when I received the letter.  Apart from myself, the featured storytellers are: Kuya Rey Bufi, JK Anicoche, Mars Mercado, Charlot Cachuela and Kuya Bodjie Pascua.

Despite challenges in funding, Museo Pambata was able to successfully push the project through. They are amazing! Talk about tenacity and commitment!

Here now is the e-invite of the launch. Consider it as my invitation to you! If you are not free to join us, then visit Museo Pambata when you are free or when you are in Manila.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Throwback: The 2015 NCBD Book Fair

The 2016 National Children's Book Fair is just around the corner! It will officially be open to the public on July 23, 2016, Saturday from 8AM to 5PM. This year, PBBY partners with Xavier School San Juan for the annual book fair of children's books and literature fest.

To refresh your memory, allow me to share with you this AVP of the 2015 NCBD at the Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University.

This AVP is made by Ms. Michelle Arispe, Grade School librarian of the Ateneo de Manila University.

Monday, June 20, 2016

2016 NCBD Author Interview: Genaro Gojo Cruz (2 of 2)

Here is part 2 of Mr. Gojo Cruz's interview where he shares with us his dreams for the Philippine Children's Literature industry.
3. Saan mo nakikita ang iyong sarili bilang manunulat ng Kwentong Pambata, 5-10 taon mula ngayon?
Gusto kong sumulat sa mas mga batang Pilipino. Nasimulan ko na ito sa "Maghapon Namin ni Nanay" at "May Sampung Pulang Langgam" na ang target na mambabasa ay ang mga batang 0-4 at 5-7 edad.
Marami nang manunulat ang nagsusulat para sa mga batang edad 8 hanggang 12.
Gusto kong maging katuwang ng mga ina ng tahanan ang aking mga aklat para sa mga bata sa pagpapakilala sa kanila ng kanilang taglay na kultura. Gusto kong sumulat ng mga aklat sa mga batang may maliliit na kamay at ang turing sa aklat ay laruan lang muna.
4. Ano ang iyong mga pangarap para sa pagyabong at pag-unlad ng Panitikang Pambata sa bansa?
Pangarap kong magpatuloy ang pag-unlad ng panitikan para sa mga bata.
Madagdagan pa sana ang mga manunulat para sa mga bata sa mga darating na taon.
Pangarap kong dumating ang panahong ang mga bida sa mga lokal na kuwento para sa mga bata ang matatandaan at iidolohin ng mga batang Pilipino.
Pangarap kong maging tulay ang lahat ng guro upang maiparating at maipakilala sa mga bata ang ating magagandang aklat para sa mga batang Pilipino. Kung nais nating makabuo ng isang nasyong nagbabasa, kailangang magkaroon muna tayo ng mga gurong nagmamahal din sa pagbabasa.

Genaro Gojo Cruz reinvents himself by pursuing writing for younger readers.
English Translation:
Where do you see yourself as a children's story writer, 5-10 years from now?
I wish to write for younger children ages 0-4 and 5-7 years old. I have started with two books published by Adarna House, Maghapon Namin ni Nanay and May Sampung Langgam. There are a good number of books for children aged 8-12 years old. I wish to be a partner of mothers by writing for younger children and help them appreciate their culture even at a young age.
What are your dreams for the growth and development of Philippine Children's Literature?
I dream an industry that continually grows and develops.
I wish to see more Filipino writers write for children in the years to come.
I dream that Filipino children idolize characters from children's books written by Filipino writers.
I dream that all Filipino teachers introduce story books written by Filipino writers to their students. If we dream to build a nation of readers, our teachers should first and foremost be readers themselves.
Genaro Gojo Cruz will be awarded the 2016 Salanga Prize on July 19, 2016, during the National Chidlren's Book Day at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

2016 NCBD Author Interview: Genaro Gojo Cruz (1 of 2)

Genaro Gojo Cruz among his treasures! Books! Books! Books!
Genaro Gojo Cruz bagged the 2016 Salanga Prize with his story, Makinang, Makinang. In this interview, Mr. Gojo Cruz shares with us his thoughts on winning the 2016 Salanga and clues us in on the winning story.

1. Hindi ka baguhan sa mga patimpalak sa pagsusulat ng kwentong pambata. Ano ang kahulugan ng pagkakapanalo mo ng Salanga Prize ngayong taon?
Kinompleto ng Salanga Writers Prize ang aking pagiging manunulat para sa mga bata. Kasi sa tingin ko, ito na ang pinakamahalagang parangal para sa mga manunulat ng panitikan para sa mga bata sa Pilipinas. Binigyan ako ng parangal na ito upang magpatuloy sa pagsusulat ng panitikan para sa mga batang Pilipino. At sa bawat kuwentong tinatangka kong isulat sa isang bakanteng screen, lagi't lagi akong isang baguhang manunulat.
2. Maari mo bang ibigay ang buod ng Makinang, Makinang?
Tungkol ito sa isang makinang panahi na may mayamang kasaysayang pinagdaanan. Sa pagsisikap ng ina at ng kaniyang tatlong anak na babae na pag-aaralan ang pananahi ng mga damit, hindi nila namamalayang naliligtas pala sila sa panganib ng ikalawang digmaang pandaigdig. Ang totoo, ito naman talaga ang layunin ng ama ng tahanan na siyang bumili ng makina. Ang kuwentong ito ang nakarating sa batang si Ino na kinuwentuhan ng kaniyang ina tungkol sa makina.
One of the many illustrated story books by Genaro Gojo Cruz
English Translation:
1. What is the relevance of winning the 2016 Salanga Prize to you since you have won in prestigious writing awards in the past?
Winning the Salanga Prize completes my role and identity as a children's story writer. The Salanga Prize is a relevant award as it inspires writers like myself to continue creating stories for children. However, every time I face a computer's blank screen, I feel I am a newbie writer in the industry.
2. Can you give us a synopsis of Makinang, Makinang?
Makinang, Makinang is a story about a sewing machine used by a mother and her daughters during World War II. By sewing, they were saved from the conflicts and the horrors of war. This had been their father's aim since he bought the sewing machine for the family. Ino, a young boy, listened to his mother tell this story of the sewing machine and how it saved the family through a very terrible time in Philippine history.
Genaro Gojo Cruz will be awarded the 2016 Salanga Prize on July 19, 2016, during the National Chidlren's Book Day at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

BPI SHAPE - YGOAL Project: Source Book on Personal Development for Senior High School

Personal Development and Entrepreneurship Resource Books  
Apart from writing stories for children and academic papers, I also write training manuals and teaching modules for teachers. In the past, I have done this kind of writing project with Ayala Foundation and Sa Aklat Sisikat (SAS). My years as trainor for teachers and workshop facilitator in storytelling gave me the hands-on experience in creating training modules. I was also fortunate to work with brilliant master trainors who I considered as my mentors.

When YGOAL came along with a proposal to write a source book cum training module for Senior High School teachers, I considered accepting the project. It was a source book on Personal Development and much of its content is based on the DepEd SHS Curriculum. The risk taker that I am, I said yes.

Rounding up a young team of librarians who can write and create content, we set forth on the journey, along with YGOAL people, Yani Alonto and JR Demacais. What proved to be a challenging journey was peppered with moments of insight, learning and reflection.

The writing team I worked with was made up of Darrel Marco, Ann Grace Bansig, Mennie Ruth Viray and Audrey Anday. They are amazing! While each of us has a module to write, at the home stretch, we worked as a team by pitching in work for a co-writer and team members when content and deadlines loom like Dementors on our path. Each librarian-writer made a contribution in the development of the modules, from content, validation, training design and facilitation. I am so proud of the team! As librarians, we were able to flex our professional muscles to become content developers. With a keen eye on research and skills on Information Literacy, we were able to create a new set of knowledge based on standards and prescribed criteria.

Yani Alonto as project leader is such a positive force to work with. His work experience as a teacher helped us understand the bigger task at hand and the details required for each module. He is patient and respected our artistic moods as writers. We were writing a training manual, yes, but enough creativity was given to us so we can give our best to the project. He also gave us enough time for research and development. This made the writing pretty much a manageable endeavor.

The "by line" gives you a good feeling.
As for myself, I can say that I enjoyed working on the project because, as a high school librarian, I can see my students in the modules I worked on. Teenagers may come from varied demographics, but a common thread binds who they are regardless. They are young people on the road to self discovery. As a writer of the training module, I had to provide activities for teachers to use that will allow these young people to gain confidence in themselves, within a designed environment that is kind and compassionate, fair and good.

Finally, the project ended with a Training of Trainors (TOT) in two high schools: one in Laguna and one in Taguig. I look forward to phase 2 of the project. This is the real test of the modules for teachers will be using them as part of their teaching arsenal. Then, we will know how to further improve this!

Monday, June 13, 2016

The PBBY Salanga Prize Winner and Awards of 2016

The Philippine Board on Books for Young People declared Genaro Gojo Cruz as the grand prize winner of the 2016 PBBY-Salanga Prize. Gojo Cruz bagged the Salanga with his story, Makinang Makinang, a simple tale about a child’s encounters with his mother’s sewing machine.

Four writers were cited as honorable mention this year: Joseph Salazar for his story, Kung Bakit Hindi Nagsasalita si Kabunian; John Paolo Sandicho for his story, May Dalawang Dulo ang Puso ni Papa; Leila Francesca Maligalig for her story Dandelions; and, Jacqueline Franquelli for her story, Kindat, Kindat.

Gojo Cruz is a prize-winning children’s book author and a professor at De La Salle University and Philippine Normal University. He has won honorable mention in the Salanga twice before: 2004 and 2014.

Gojo Cruz will be awarded during the celebration of National Children’s Book Day on July 19, 2016.
For inquiries about the contest, contact the PBBY Secretariat at telephone number 352-6765 loc. 203 or e-mail

The PBBY Alcala Prize Winner of 2016

The Philippine Board on Books for Young People declared Mark Lawrence Andres as Grand Prize Winner of the 2016 PBBY-Alcala Prize. Andres is a graphic designer of And a Half Studio and has illustrated three children’s books for an NGO. He is also a member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK), a professional organization of children’s book artists.

Artist John Dominic Ochotorena won honorable mention. Ochotorena is a member of Ang INK as well.

This year’s PBBY-Alcala Prize called for entries based on the 2016 PBBY-Salanga Prize grand prize winner, “Makinang Makinang,” by Genaro Gojo Cruz.

Both Andres and Ochotorena will be awarded during the celebration of National Children's Book Day on July 19, 2016 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
For inquiries about the contest, contact the PBBY Secretariat at telephone number 352-6765 loc. 203 or e-mail

Day 5 of #KwentoRP612: Tay, Inom Tayo!

Tay, inom tayo!

Pagyaya ng bunso. Syempre, hindi ko siya uurungan. Kaya kahit pagod ako't gusto ko ng mahiga, sinagot ko siya.

Tag dalawang bote lang. Wala pang sweldo.

Sagot ko ang pangatlo, Tay. Rumaket ako sa club kagabi.

Kaya pala inabot ka ng madaling araw.

Ang tawa niya.

Sa katapusan, makakauwi na ako ng maaga, Tay. Pramis. May bago ng supremo.

Kinuha niya ang gitara. Tumugtog. Nagsimulang umawit.

Liparin mo sa ulap
Sisirin mo sa dagat
Hukayin mo sa lupa
Baka naroon ang kalayaan

Mas magaling ka na sa akin, sabi ko ng matapos siya.

Nagmana ako sayo.

Sabay kaming napabuntong hininga.

MagjaJapan ako, Tay. Itutuloy ko po.

Kaya ka pala nagyayang uminom. Alam na ba ng Nanay?

Umiling. Tinapos namin ang unang round.

Akin na ang gitara.

Oras na, magpasiya
Kung saan ka pupunta
Oras na, oras na
Mag-iba ka ng landas

Tayo na sa liwanag
Ang takot ay nasa isip lamang
Tama na ang pag-aalinlangan
Ang takot ay nasa isip lamang

Wala ka paring kupas, Tay. Anong kanta yan?

Hindi mo na naabutan. Hanapin mo sa Google!

Sabay kaming tumawa.

Tapusin na natin ito. Kailangan nating makausap ang nanay mo.

Mga hiram na piling titik ng mga awit:
Mula sa Oras Na ng Asin at Naroon ng Yano

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands

Rebel of the Sands
Alwyn Hamilton
Viking, 2016

I enjoyed reading this book because, to me, it is a love story. Love. Love. Love! Oh, there is so much love in this book by Alwyn Hamilton that I am rereading it this summer.

What worked 
The lead characters are adorable. Jin and Amani are worth rooting for. There is tension between the two which was established at the very start of the novel. For me, at least, this is a motivating factor to move faster through the pages. As Amani's attraction to Jin slowly unfolds, she remains clueless of her true identity. This is something that Jin knows all along and to the perceptive reader, Jin has some surprises tucked into his sleeves that Amani is not aware of. She can only guess. 

Jin's secret is revealed in the middle part of the book. And what perfect timing. As Amani's belief in the stories surrounding the mysteries of the desert materialize, so is her realization of the truth behind the identity of Jin and the Rebel Prince. I like this unfolding of events and the revelation of the key characters in the story. It engages me. I have many AHA and I knew it moments while reading the book. The last time I was engaged in a book was when I was reading the HP series.

The book also presents a bigger view of Amani and Jin's world. There is political intrigue, international relations and the unending quest for power. In this backdrop, Amani struggles to find herself while Jin has his own agenda. Jin maybe fighting alongside his brother, but he dreams of freedom; of being in a palace where he can truly be himself; where he is not beholden to anyone else; where he could be the master of his fate. Sexy. Yes! 

But this is a dream yet to come. Or not. My guess is, since Amani has only discovered her true power at the end of the book, Jin has to make a decision somewhere in book 2. Fight or Flight? Can he do both? Will Amani continue to become her own hero despite her growing feelings for Jin? Will the Rebel Prince prevail? Is there a traitor waiting in the wings?

These are my questions. I am counting the months till book 2 comes out.

What did not work 
Very few djinns. Their spawns are everywhere, but these creatures of fire and air are amiss in book 1. Just a little thing, I know. But I love djinns.

Day 4 of #KwentoRP612: Untitled


we move in different worlds

going round and round
in our little circles
seeing only the eyes of our own kind

aliens to what lies beyond

Day 3 of #KwentoRP612: Midnight Monologue

Midnight Monologue

You're leaving again
Why do you go searching for your soul

Can't you find it right here
At home where everything is in disarray
In a pleasant way
Because of the kids
Where Papa listens to the slow humming
Of his transistor radio
Where Grandma fusses about our hair sprays
And Tita Bea, forbidding midnight calls

Go then if you must
If you think you can still find
A single unicorn to dance with

When you have left
I will miss your jokes and stories
All about the little people and Juan Tanga

Don't worry about Secrets
I'll feed him everyday

And yes, the nights you revealed yourself to me
Will remain hidden in the dark

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bumasa at Lumaya! Read and Take Flight!

The 2016 NCBD theme: Read and Take Flight
The 33rd National Children's Book Day (NCBD) is on July 19, 2016. This year's theme is Bumasa at Lumaya. In English, this translates to Read and Take Flight. The Philippine Board on Books for Young People is spearheading the celebration by awarding the Salanga Prize and Alacala Prize to the author and illustrator who won in the annual contests. On July 23, 2016, the NCBD Book Fair will be held at Xavier School San Juan.

In one Facebook convo, a friend asked why pick a theme that suggests the call of the times. So I asked her, what is the call of the times? She said, that with the current revisionist movement in Philippine history, especially on Martial Law, and the worrisome results of the national elections, how apt it is to drum up on freedom through books and reading. I told her that there really is no political or historical agenda to the theme.

First of all, Bumasa at Lumaya is a book published by Anvil Publishing House (1996). This book was edited by Mailin Paterno, Rayvi Sunico, Rene Villanueva (+) and Rio Alma. It is a source book and manual on Children's Literature in the Philippines. Writers, illustrators, teachers and advocates of children's books have benefited from Bumasa at Lumaya in their creative journeys. Friends in the industry have asked if there is going to be a new edition of Bumasa and Lumaya. Indeed, the changing times and trends that push new ideas and creative inventions into local children's books needed documentation. So, after twenty years, Bumasa at Lumaya volume 2 was born.

Early this year, Bumasa at Lumaya 2 (Anvil, 2016) was released in the market. My contribution to the collection in this new volume is a quick fix guide in setting up a library and reading center. I am honored to be part of this project and working with the editors was a learning experience.

Side by side now: Bumasa at Lumaya Volume 1 and 2

Now, to put things in perspective.

Reading will always have that power to free and liberate the mind, the heart and the spirit. What we read shapes the way we think. It expands our world views. It will never go out of style. Reading will always be the new sexy. In times of crises and desperation, reading can lead us to solutions, a sense of meaning, a way to make peace with ourselves. In some cases, reading can start up a revolution. The beautiful thing is this: when we read, we are also inspired to create. There is freedom in this act of creation. When the mind, the heart and the spirit is free, the ability to create becomes a manifestation of this freedom.

Read and Take Flight. Bumasa at Lumaya!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Day 2 #KwentoRP612: Papa Mia

Here is the second story for #KwentoRP216. Day 1 story is here.

She came home in a foul mood. Banging the door as she came in the house, I followed her to her room only to be shut out.
Her baon is left untouched. Her school bag is dirty. She has been like this for the past three days. I have told Minerva.
Talk to her. She said.
She makes it sound so easy.
PM her. I begged.
I will. She promised.
How can this be so difficult? I am not good with words, but I am good at making things and doing things. I remember how she loved playing on the swing.
Maybe that will help.

I hurt papa again. I am so sorry. Papa. I feel so lonely with Mama so far away. I don't know how to talk to you, Papa. It's always been Mama.
She hasn't replied to my PMs yet.
The girls in school are so mean. I am not learning anything new from my teachers! I want to go back to my old school.
I want everything to be the same. Gah!!! Why is life so difficult?!!!

There. A wooden swing for my Mia.


A swing! A wooden swing! Oh, Papa!
Up and back! Up and back!
I feel so free!
I run to Papa and hugged him.
Thank you, Papa. Thank you for the swing.
He looked into my eyes and for the first time in weeks, I saw sadness there. I am sad too, I told him.
He hugged me and whispered. I know. But it's just the two of us for the next two years. We have to make this work, you know. We need to. We have to. Until mama comes back.

Day 1 #KwentoRP612: The Little Sparrow

I am participating in #KwentoRP612 where writers celebrate Philippine Independence Day 2016 by writing flash fiction. I admit, this is my first. I am excited despite my virginity on the literary category (or is it a genre? Correct me if I am wrong).  
It is also Father's Day this weekend, so I am integrating themes on fatherhood, fathers and everything about relationships with fathers. 
Enjoy! Happy Independence Day! Happy Father's Day!

He found another sparrow. It fell from the eaves where its family built a nest. The little sparrow's wings were wet and broken. It was shaking. It was afraid. He could feel its heart beating fast. 

"Can we keep it as our pet?" the little girl asked.

"No." He replied. "But we can keep it dry for now then we'll return the bird to its nest."

He told the little girl to get an empty shoe box and an old shirt. When it was ready, he placed the sparrow inside the box and kept it open. He turned on the night lamp and placed the shoe box under it. The sparrow didn't even attempt to fly.

The little girl watched over the sparrow and sang songs. Late that afternoon, as the sun was about to set, he returned the bird to the nest in the eaves. The little girl watched as he did so.

"Is the sparrow going to be alright, Papa?"

"It will be."

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Author of the Month: John Couret

The blog's author of the month is Mr. John Couret.

He is the CEO of Write Hook Media. He is an author, a motivational speaker, “The Success Coach of Champions,” an actor, an entrepreneur, and the radio show host of “Breaking Barriers” on community radio station WHIV 102.3FM in New Orleans. He has acted in feature films as well as on television. His new personal growth book, Breaking Barriers: How to Knock Out Adversity and Live Life as a Champion releases in Summer 2016.

His followers look forward to his daily quotes, which are posted to his social media platforms. His weekly motivational blog posts every Monday and he hosts a weekly video series on YouTube called “Championship Minute,” which features a 60 second motivational message every Wednesday.

Here is an interview I had with John where he speaks about his writing journey and the motivation that pushed him to break barriers.

a. This is your first book. Congratulations! What has been the most meaningful experience you had while working on the book?

As chronicled in my book, I am legally blind. My sweetheart and business partner, Dianne de Las Casas, was instrumental in helping me articulate my story. She would type my words as I dictated them. The entire process, from start to finish, took about two months. The most meaningful part about the process was discovering that my story had merit and could inspire people. I took what could have been the worst event in my life (losing my sight) and turned it into a positive experience. I hope that my stories encourage others to keep moving forward and know that it always gets better. Never throw in the towel!

b. As a radio show host, your reach is wide enough to communicate your message in inspiring people and helping others. What do you wish to accomplish with the publication of the book?

A book is a legacy and I wanted to leave a legacy for my family. People respect the written word and tend to treat books with reverence. I also want to change the world and help people break through their barriers. It's important for all of us to "become our own heroes," to quote you so eloquently.

c. In Chapter 8 of the book, there was a line that says, ...something deep inside told me to get going... What was that SOMETHING?

I prayed to God for an answer and I received a message. The message was, "Don't give up. This is not a terrible ending. It's a beautiful beginning." I would encourage people who are going through a tough time in their lives to remember that "this too shall pass." The night is always darkest before the dawn but then the light comes...

d. What is your birthday wish?

I would love to see people all over the world using my book as a healing tool for overcoming the obstacles in their own lives. I want to see people breaking barriers worldwide!

Today is John's birthday and he will celebrate it with the launch of his first book. The book launch, dubbed as Breaking Barriers Book Birthday Bash, is scheduled today at 1-4PM (USA, EST) at Tubby and Coo's Bookshop,  631 N Carrollton Ave. New Orleans, LA. 

Dianne de Las Casas, Vice President and Editor in Chief of Write Hook Media will be at the launch to support John on his first venture into book publishing. Kid Chef Eliana is catering a sumptuous menu for guests, visitors, friends and family. If you are from New Orleans, join John in his birthday book bash, buy the book and help others too. 10% of the net proceeds will go to the Giving Hope Foundation.

For fans of Dianne and John from all over the world, there might be a live feed of the birthday book bash on Facebook!

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Thesaurus on Philippine Children's Literature

Ms. Tericel Tamayao sent me three questions to answer regarding the creation of a thesaurus of Philippine Children's Literature. This is for her thesis as she is completing her graduate degree in Library and Information Science at the School of Library and Information Science, Univeristy of the Philippines Diliman.

Here are my answers: 

With your utmost knowledge about the children’s literature in the Philippines, what do you think are the categories / areas needed to be included in the thesaurus? Please give at least 5.

Self, Family, School, Community, Culture 

Please give at least 10 popular terms about children’s literature in the Philippines.

To answer this item, I sent her links to previous and archived blog posts. These blog posts were made to meet a course requirement in an LIS graduate course I took all those years ago. The subject is Information Analysis. I took it under Prof. Rosalie Faderon.

How is it important to have a thesaurus on Children’s Literature in the Philippines?

Words define us. It gives us identity. A thesaurus on PH Kids Lit will help define it and lead to a purposeful use of the literature at home, in school and in the academic study of children’s lit in general. A thesaurus will also aid librarians in library work, especially in selecting titles and cataloging them in a more appropriate manner. Writers, illustrators and publishers will appreciate a thesaurus of PH Kids Lit since they can use this as  a guide in creating books for children. 

We do not have one yet. So this would be  a good initiative. 
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