Kamote: A “Poor Man’s Diet”?


Our body has its own way of communicating what it needs.  It may not be in the language that we know of but it speaks to us nonetheless.  Oftentimes, though, we fail to listen or we simply choose to ignore the pains and longing of our bodies to attend to the “more pressing issues” or we’re just too preoccupied with “busyness in everything and anything”.  We tend only to slow down when we get (seriously) ill and can no longer function the way we want to.  This time it could be too late! This could now be the time of regretting what we should have or have not done!  We might just find ourselves uttering words, such as:

“I wish I did….”

“If only I could…”

“I should have…”

Uncooked kamote

Uncooked kamote

Some years ago, a close friend told me to always listen to what my body has to say because it does not lie.  Lately, I got tired easily and find it difficult to concentrate on my work. No matter how I got myself to write, I seemed to have ran out of ideas.  In a sense, I was sort of suffering from brain drain!  At the same time, I was craving for boiled sweet potatoes (Kamote or camote in our dialect). And so, remembering the advice, I decided to buy some kamote from the nearby market, and cooked all one kilo of it. Funny but after some helping, I felt recharged and eager to hit the keyboard and write again.

Curious, I decided to check on the internet what could I have been missing – nutrition-wise. I found out that the humble kamote, which is sometimes called a “poor man’s diet”, is packed with powerful nutrients. And probably, I must have been lacking much, if not all, of these wonderful kamote health benefits:

1.  It is a good source of vitamin C.  As we all know, vitamin C promotes digestion, blood cell formation, and healing of wounds; protects us from cold and flu viruses as well as from toxins associated with cancer; facilitates in bone and tooth formation; produces collagen for healthy and youthful skin, and; helps us cope with stress.  Apparently, it was stress that kept me slow.

2.  Kamote is rich in vitamin B6, which is essential in reducing homocysteine in the body.  Homocysteine is a chemical said to be associated with degenerative disease.

3. It contains vitamin D which plays a very important role in our immune system and general health.  It boosts our energy levels, moods, as well as promotes healthy bones, nerves, heart, skin, and teeth.  Now, I know why I did not have much energy lately.

4.  Great source of manganese. Manganese plays a very important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates useful in promoting healthy blood sugar levels.  This trace mineral in kamote stabilizes glucose levels by increasing adinopectin, a significant element in insulin metabolism.  And since kamote has a glycemic index of 50, it is considered a diabetic food.  I thank God I’m not diabetic, and I pray the humble kamote helps in protecting me from acquiring the disease, which has already claimed the life of my elder sister.

5.  Most potent anti-oxidant.  Kamote contains high level of vitamin A or beta-carotene, even higher than that of carrots. Vitamin A, as we all know, is an important anti-oxidant that helps prevent different types of cancer, and protects our skin from the harmful effects of the sun as it deflects and repair cell damage caused by too much exposure to UV rays, shielding us against premature aging. Beta-carotene in the body is converted into vitamin A (retinol), for good eye health and good vision, strong immune system, as well as glowing skin and mucous membranes.  Oh, I need this for my eyes.

6.  High in other vitamins, such as: vitamins B2, and E; as well as in minerals like copper, potassium, and iron.  

Being one of the essential electrolytes that regulates heartbeat and nerve functions, potassium helps relax muscle contractions, minimizes swelling, and protects and controls the activity of the kidneys.

Iron, on the other hand, plays a crucial role in the production of red and white blood cells, fortifies the body against stress, and promotes metabolism and healthy immune system.

The magnesium content in kamote helps fight stress, allowing the body to relax.  It also promotes healthy bones, heart, blood, muscles, arteries, and nerves.

7.  Kamote is rich in dietary fiber and less fat content.  A medium size kamote is packed with 26 grams of carbohydrates, of which 3.8 grams are dietary fiber that helps minimize bad cholesterol and eases bowel movement.

8.  Effective detoxifying agent.  Kamote absorbs heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic, and mercury that can build up in the body through consumption of commercially-processed foods, and effectively flushes them out of your system.

Knowing all the kamote health benefits, I now can’t seem to understand why it bears a connotation of a “poor man’s diet”. Perhaps, it could be because it is one of the cheapest and easiest-grown crop.

Boiled kamote

Boiled kamote

Kamote is even the best rice substitute.  I was just thinking, what if kamote becomes a staple food in the Philippines, would it help minimize, if not totally resolve, the sickening political and corruption issues of “shortage of rice supply” and “rice smuggling” in the country?

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2013 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,900 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Misa de Aguinaldo: What do you wish for?


Simbang Gani

Tomorrow, December 16, starts the official observance of Christmas season, which will last until the Epiphany, or during the commemoration of the Magi’s visit to the Child Jesus.

In the Philippines, the celebration commences with Misa de Aguinaldo or Simbang Gabi, a reverential nine-dawn Masses practiced by both the Roman Catholics and Aglipayans in deference to the Blessed Virgin Mary as they anticipate the birth of their Savior, Jesus Christ. The liturgical importance of Christmas stems from the Season of Advent, the time when believers spiritually prepare and purify themselves to be worthy to receive the Child Jesus. Simbang Gabi, which literally means Night Mass, is actually done as early as 4 o’clock in the morning.

ParolDuring the Christmas season, Filipinos adorn their homes with colorful star-shaped lanterns called parol. Many, if not most, of which are personally hand-crafted according to the owner’s desire. The parol is traditionally believed to serve as an illumination for the parishioners in making their way to the church.  Also, during this period, children and adults alike would go from house to house singing Christmas carols in exchange for an amount of money or goodies.

Many Filipino Catholics believe that if a parishioner who makes a wish during the dawn Masses and is able to complete all nine dawns of the Simbang Gabi, his or her wish would come true.  This has been a centuries-old belief that is still kept alive even up to the present.  Many priests, however, observe that only the first and the ninth dawn of the Simbang Gabi seem to have the greatest number of church-goers.

KakaninSimbang Gabi culminates on December 24 or Christmas Eve, which is called the Misa de Gallo or Mass of the Gifts. Shortly after the Misa de Gallo, families gather together in their homes for the Nochebuena, or the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, where they feast on local delicacies and some conventional dishes, like lechon (or roast pig), fried chicken, hamon, pancit, lumpia, fruit salad, spaghetti, quezo de bola, and a lot more.

Lechon

History

The history of Simbang Gabi in the Philippines can be traced back to 1669 during the early days of Christianity. Since the  Christmas season was also a harvest period, it was customary to hold thanksgiving novenas in the evenings. But the priests noticed that, although still enthusiastic to participate in the Mass, their parishioners, especially farmers, were already tired after a day’s work. And so, the Spanish friars decided to begin the Mass very early in the morning, instead, to allow farmers to participate in it before they proceeded to their fields.  Since then, this important Christmas tradition became a distinct Philippine culture and recognized as a symbol of sharing. After each dawn Mass, Filipino families, and even individuals, would share different traditional Christmas foods and drinks, such as bibingka, or rice cake cooked in clay stove; puto; suman; tsokolate; salabat or ginger tea; kape (coffee) and; other regional delicacies.  The reason why most of the pastries were traditionally made of rice or carbohydrates was to fill the stomach of farmers before they proceeded to their farms.  At present, however, other delicacies are prepared and readily available at the church’s premises for easy access to parishioners.

Coconut Oil: Effective Prevention of Hair Fall


Coconut oilIn my previous post, What Lies Beneath Hair Loss?, I mentioned some possible causes of hair fall or hair loss. Now, it’s time to talk about how to treat such problem the natural way.  Even as it is important to seek medical advice on your condition, you can also turn to natural methods on treating you hair fall problem.  I particularly recommend the use of coconut oil as one of the best remedies to prevent hair fall and promote its growth; and here is why I am biased for it.

Coconut oil is rich in these components, namely:

Lauric acid. This is a medium-chain fatty acid that protects the roots of your hair and prevents it from breakage. Studies reveal that coconut oil has the ability to reduce and prevent loss of hair protein more effectively than what sunflower and mineral oils do. Coconut oil is the richest source of lauric acid, containing around fifty percent of the substance.  To ensure your scalp is free of dandruff, split ends, lice and lice eggs, make it a habit to massage your head with coconut oil.

Antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Aside from lauric acid, coconut oil also contains two other fatty acids - caprylic, and capric acids - that are known to work against fungi. Meanwhile, its monolaurin component has an antibacterial property that effectively fights against bugs.  All these properties of the coconut oil are powerful against dandruff and lice, two of the contributing factors that hinder hair growth. Studies have proven that coconut oil works effectively as a natural treatment of head lice.

Essential nutrients.  Coconut oil is proven to be an effective source of vitamins E, K, and iron, which are essential for maintaining luster and softness of your hair.  Again, vitamin E works effectively against dandruff.

Moisturizer.  With regular application of coconut oil, you can expect to have a strong and moisturized hair because the oil penetrates into your hair shaft and conditions your mane from the inside. At the same time it protects your hair follicles from heat and harsh weather conditions.

Promotes better blood circulation. By massaging your scalp with coconut oil you significantly promote blood circulation and consequently allow essential nutrients and oxygen into your hair follicles; thus, making it healthy.

How to Apply Coconut Oil

Depending on your personal preference, you may apply coconut oil either before or after washing your hair. Personally, I do it at least 30 minutes before shampooing.  For those of you who have slightly wavy (like mine), or straight hair, I suggest that you treat your hair with coconut oil before washing it.  But if you have rather thick or curly mane, you may apply the coconut oil either before or after washing it.  Don’t worry about getting greasy-looking hair because curly hair tends to absorb oil quickly, so you would not end up with too sticky-shiny hair.  Be aware, however, that some types of hair, particularly the protein-sensitive, do not fare well to post-wash oil treatment.

Some people ask whether it is more effective to heat the coconut oil first before applying or just have it at room temperature.  Basically, it produces the same effects.  However, since coconut oil can turn solid in lower room temperature, it makes sense to have it warmed a bit before using.  Be sure, though, to not heat it too much as it can damage your scalp.

Coconut oil application before shampooing. Apply a generous amount of coconut oil onto your scalp  and gently massage it in circular motion for at least five minutes.  Give particular attention to your hair strands. Leave the oil on your hair for at least 30 minutes.  If your hair fall problem is severe or if your concern is hair breakage, you may let the oil on for two to four hours.  Then, wash your hair off with regular shampoo.

Oil application after shampooing. If your hair problem is more on dry hair or split-ends, apply a little amount of coconut oil two to three inches towards the tip of your hair. But wait until your hair has completely dried out before applying.  The oil will be quickly absorbed by your hair and makes a protective coat around the hair strands.

Related Topic:
What Lies Beneath Hair Loss?

What Lies Beneath Hair Loss?


Hair fall

I once heard a breast cancer survivor who said that the chemotherapy sessions she had did not scare her much more than the thought of losing her hair.  And, she was talking about hair falling out in clumps.  While it is normal to shed around 50 to a hundred strands of hair each day, seeing one’s hair thinning or going partially into baldness can be a frightening situation for many, if not most, women. But don’t fret yet if you are shedding more than 100 strands because dermatologists also say that a normal person can shed up to 250 strands when hair is washed.  But they do not, however, advise that you should not wash your hair at all because it will eventually fall, anyway.

Women are almost as likely to lose hair as men do; although, it is can seem to be more prominent in men. Normally, women would notice the problem in their 50s or 60s, but it can happen to younger women, too, for a variety of reasons, one of which is chemical or medical treatment for an ailment. Women can suffer hair fall after childbirth, during or after menopause, when exposed to nuclear radiation, having nutritional deficiency, stress, or due to other factors.  Hair fall after childbirth is a common occurrence because of women’s hormonal changes after pregnancy.  This temporary problem usually happens around three months after delivery and should return to normal condition within six to twelve months. Meanwhile, women in their menopausal period may experience hair loss as their estrogen levels drop and other hormones, such as the dihydrotestosterone (DHT) get imbalanced, consequently affecting hair growth.  Other women may also suffer from hair loss due to their exposure to X-rays, nuclear radiation, anti-cancer treatments, insufficient nutrition, pneumonia, typhoid fever, flu, or stress.  Yes, stress can be associated with hair loss.  But this do not necessarily have to be permanent if and when you keep your stress level under control.

There are at least three types of hair loss that can be directly linked to high stress levels, namely: alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, and trichotillomania.

  • Alopecia areata is an acquired skin condition that involves white blood cells attacking the hair follicle, consequently causing hair to fall out and preventing it to grow.  Although, some findings trace that this disease can be inherited from ancestors, alopecia areata may be due to severe stress, abnormality in the immune system, and other factors.
  • Telogen effluvium is a scalp disorder marked by diffuse hair shedding resulting from emotional or physical stress.  Hair may fall out suddenly by just combing or washing your hair.  However, if promptly tended to, you can recover naturally within six months.
  • Trichotillomania is rather a mental disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to pull out hair from the scalp, eyebrows, or other areas of the body.  It is more common in adult women and among children, who have to deal with negative or uncomfortable feeling, such as anxiety, tension, stress, fatigue, frustration, or loneliness.

If you notice that you are shedding more strands of hair than normal, make sure to consult with your doctor. It might be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs medical attention.  But you can already start using natural or home remedies to prevent your hair from further falling out. Among the best remedies is the virgin coconut oil.

Coconut Oil: Effective Prevention of hair Fall

What’s Next?


Originally posted on Practicing Resurrection:

There’s a wrap-around advertisement from Monsanto on the cover of the October edition of Successful Farming magazine.  The text of it reads:

What’s next in weed control technology?  Roundup Ready 2  XTend Soybeans.  An advanced soybean product with tolerance to dicamba and glyphosate.  Xtend your control.

(in small print at the bottom) Pending regulatory approvals. Not available for sale or commercial planting.  

I’ve blogged often about how the use of Roundup (glyphosate) on genetically modified crops has led to the emergence of glyphosate-resistant “superweeds.”  Nature is amazingly resilient like that.

This hasn’t hurt Monsanto’s profits, however.  Now they can sell more glyphosate than ever, as farmers who have become dependent upon it now have to apply it in heavier and more frequent applications.  And of course it creates a market for new products, like “Roundup Ready 2 XTend Soybeans,” genetically engineered to be resistant to dicamba as well as…

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Impact of Slander: What is Our Responsibility?


By God’s grace, I was so fortunate to be 264 kilometers away from the epicenter of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol, Cebu, and other parts of Central Philippines and Mindanao in the early morning of October 15, 2013.  What I felt only at 8:14 of that fateful morning was a slight swaying of the earth beneath my feet that lasted for about a minute, enough to make me feel dizzy.  

But my heart goes out to the Boholanos and Cebuanos who had to brace up against falling objects and buildings, possible breaking of the ground, and the threat of tsunami.  Good thing authorities quickly ruled out the possibility of tidal wave.   It is heart-breaking, however, to know that some lives have to end and scores injured as buildings crumble over them. Ancient structures, specifically churches, that have withstood all kinds of weather over the centuries ultimately gave way. The over a hundred aftershocks left thousands sleepless and fearful.  Even the idea of going to the bathroom was terrifying for some because the aftershock can occur anytime.  After the tragedy, not only a few wondered if this calamity is a punishment for sinners.  It is so unfortunate how some religious sects could readily point their fingers at Catholics as the cause of the tragedy on the premise that the latter are alleged pagans and “idol” worshipers, using the collapse of centuries-old Catholic churches as the base of their judgment.  They readily conclude that this is a manifestation of God’s wrath. Other insensitive individuals, meanwhile, even jeer at and curse the Visayan people – for being Bisaya (religious and regionalistic bigotry!)  Yes, it profoundly hurts to hear all those negative remarks from no less than fellow Filipinos and pharisaical Christians!  Slander, indeed, can be very demoralizing.

By  your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.  (Matthew 12:37)

It is a shame how this only Christian nation in Southeast Asia can be so prone to slander.  But on the other hand, it should not come as a surprise to us because, if we recall, the people of Biblical times also practice slander.  That’s why the prophets of old and even Jesus’ disciples repeatedly exhorts us all to be very careful with the words we utter; for the tongue is like a two-edged sword.  It can either make or break a person.  Reputation can severely be tainted by our irresponsible and careless remarks.  Anything we utter can have an implication on another.  All too often, we fail to recognize the scope, depth, and seriousness of what we say.

But what exactly is slander?  Literally, slander or speaking against another person, is the utterance of unfounded judgment with the intention of destroying a reputation.  Unlike reviling, cursing, false witness, and guile which can easily be detected, slander works in a very subtle manner. The nature of slander is that the facts used are accurate. What makes it malicious and sinful, though, is that the same facts are used for the purpose of disgracing and dishonoring another person.  Slander is one of the most – if not the most yet – common and fatal forms of verbal aggression we hear almost everyday.  It profoundly destroys trust and subverts personal relationships.

It is indeed very unfortunate of us to be putting down one another especially in times of need.  If we could only root out slander from our personal lives, our relationships with others would significantly improved, and we would be worthy to be called Christians. Slander is a mental and social garbage that contaminate more profoundly than any trash in landfills.  We need to root it out to create a sustainable relationship with our fellowmen.

After Yolanda: It’s Time to Rebuild


November 8, 2013 is the day of horror for many Filipinos as super typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) ravaged through the Visayas region in central Philippines, leaving behind thousands dead, numerous wounded, and still unaccounted for missing persons. The whole world sympathizes in so any ways – from financial aid, material support, facilities, to manpower volunteers.  And for this, I personally thank all you – actually, I cannot thank you enough – for your quick response to help us.

Now, it’s time for us, Filipinos, to rise above the circumstances.  As we rebuild our homes, let us also rebuild our broken hearts and wounded lives. Yolanda may have destroyed our homes and taken what we have had, but certainly it has neither taken away nor flushed out our faith in God (I hope nobody gives in to temptation).  The fact that we have survived the tragedy means we still have a purpose in life.  We must carry on. I know this is easier said than done, but we have to try even if takes an inch at a time. Neighboring countries and strangers have reached out their helping hands to us.  Let us also respond positively to it by holding on to hope and showing them that we can start all over again. We need to be strong.  If our government fails us in some ways for not doing enough as we expected them to be, let us not wallow on that bitterness. Actually, the government is always there to support and assist us.  It is up to us to decide if we are willing to get back on our feet again. 

Reconstruction of infrastructure can be done by so many hands in a short period. But the rebuilding of our lives is a matter of personal choice and the pace depends on our ability to cope.  Leave behind the resentments, and stop blaming anybody else for our predicament. Life is too short to be spent on anger. Let us start all over again.  Only we can make our lives better if we want to.  Let us make use of the assistance we receive from our brethren to move on rather than just depend on it for daily survival. God has given us the gift of resilience, so let’s capitalize on it.

Bangon Visayas!  Bangon Pilipinas!

Bangon

 

Minimizing Our Carbon Footprints with 3Rs


When we speak of waste, we refer to those materials that have lost their values in our lives and have no more economic values.  In other words, they are the things that we most likely would want to discard. There are actually different types of waste, namely: bio-medical waste, hazardous waste, special hazardous waste, and municipal waste. Bio-medical waste are those trash resulting from clinical activities, such as from the medical, dental, nursing, pharmaceutical, skin penetration, and other similar enterprises. Hazardous waste, meanwhile, refers to trash that poses threat to human health and the environment.

I am rather interested to talk about municipal waste because it is something that you and I commonly produce everyday at home.

Minding the 3Rs: Recycle, Re-use, and Reduce  

Municipal waste includes our household trash, commercial garbage, and demolition junk. I seriously urge everyone to participate in managing our household waste by recycling household materials, and re-using those things that can still be utilized for other purposes in order that we may reduce the amount of garbage at landfills. Many of us may be wondering just how biodegradable or non-biodegradable are the products we commonly use at home.  For this reason, I decided to share what researchers have discovered regarding the decomposition time of the products we use everyday.

Plastic bags

Plastic bags: 200 to 1,000 years

Monofilament fishing line

Monofilament fishing line: 600 years

Disposable diapers: 550 years

Aluminum cans

Aluminum cans: 200 to 500 years

Plastic bottles

Plastic bottles: 450 years

Plastic containers: 50 to 80 years

Rubber-boot soles

Rubber-boot soles: 50 to 80 years

Foamed plastic cups

Foamed plastic cups: 50 years

Tinned steel cans

Tinned steel cans: 50 years

Leather shoes

Leather shoes: 25 to 40 years

Cigarette butts

Cigarette butts: 10 to 12 years

Milk cartons

Milk cartons: 5 years

Wool socks

Wool socks: 1 to 5 years

Plywood

Plywood: 1 to 3 years

Orange peels

Orange peels:  6 months

Cotton gloves

Cotton gloves: 3 months

Cardboard

Cardboard: 2 months

Apple core

Apple core: 2 months

Newspapers

Newspapers: 1.5 months

Paperbags

Paper bags: 1 month

Banana peels

Banana peels: 3 to 4 weeks

Paper towels

Paper towels: 2 to 4 weeks

Plastic bags, the commonest and most ubiquitous items in every household, are very popular among consumers and retailers because they are cheap, strong, functional, lightweight, and convenient to carry. But beyond its usefulness is its apparent danger and threat to human health, other living organisms, and the environment.  Since these materials take a very long time to decompose (in fact, we don’t get to live long enough to witness its decomposition), plastics tend to pile up in landfills once they are used.

Each year, an alarmingly increasing number of used plastic bags find their way into parks, streets, beaches, waterways, and finally, into oceans.  Some people even try to get rid of these plastic bags by burning them, consequently infusing toxic fumes into the atmosphere.  Studies show that plastic bags that get to the oceans are responsible for killing around 100,000 animals such as dolphins, whales, turtles, other fishes, and penguins every year through suffocation and ingestion, as they mistake these materials for food.  It was even found that the ingested plastic bags remain intact inside the animal’s body even when the latter has long died and decomposed.

Besides, production of plastic bags requires around 60 to 100 million barrels of oil each year. Oil and other petroleum products are non-renewable resources and they are already alarmingly diminishing and costly by the day. Therefore, it is now imperative – and I’m urging everyone – to minimize our use of these non-biodegradable containers.  While governments and some shop owners have implemented a ban on the use of plastic bags, we, as individual consumers, can also do our share of reducing the amount of plastic bags in landfills and saving our environment by using environmentally friendly alternative packets.  Let’s start making it a habit to bring along a tote bag or eco-green bag each time we buy our groceries and other goods.

Did you know that an environmentally friendly bag can be reused for more than a hundred times?  That means a lot to help reduce the amount of plastic bags in landfills.

For more conservation tips at home, you may also visit Going Green Starts at Home.

Magnetically-Driven Sponge: A Solution to Oil Spill Disaster?


An ordinary, unmodified polyurethane (PU) foam is inherently hydrophobic and oleophobic; meaning, it repels both water and oil from the surface of the foam.

But researchers at the American Chemical Society have discovered that it can now be capable of removing oil contaminants from water.  The result of their study shows that the typical sponge used in many household cleaning purposes can efficiently suck up unwanted oil, but eliminate the other liquid. By infusing into it a combination of electrostatic polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) particle and colloidal iron oxide nanoparticles (NP), the now magnetic sponge can separate oil from water at significantly quick speed, reaching saturation in less than a minute.  Both the PTFE and NP can transform the properties of the sponge into a highly hydrophobic and oleophilic material. Additionally, the nanoparticles can also make the sponge magnetic because of the magnetic properties of the iron oxides.

Magnetically-driven sponge

Magnetically-driven sponge

This new development will, indeed, be a welcome relief to our contaminated oceans that have been suffocating from oil spill disasters, among many other contaminants.

However, one of the project’s researchers, Dr.  Athanassia Athanassiou, admitted that they still need further studies regarding the foam’s viability on a large-scale level to clean up oil spills. Sources revealed that even if the sponges are cheap,  the cost of chemicals treatment process is quite prohibitive.  But on the brighter side, Dr. Athanassiou assures that, “the modification of the commercial PU foams is achieved with simple steps; this makes the scale-up feasible, simple, and economically viable”.

Even as we await the availability of the magnetic-driven sponge and/or other similar development, let us remain vigilant about protecting our oceans, in particular, and the environment, in general.

 

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