Reasons Why I’m Still in Davao After 32 Years

March 6, 2012 92 Comments »

Davao Life Is Here
Submitted as an entry to the 75th Araw ng Dabaw Blog Competition

Won FIRST PLACE in Araw ng Dabaw Blog Competition

Thirty two years may not seem long for people who have stayed in Davao for more than 5 decades (my parents and many of my aunts/uncles, for example), but being in a generation when many of its members are leaving the country to start a new life abroad or to find greener pastures in a different land, I often find myself answering other people’s questions on why I chose to stay in Davao.

It’s not that I have never  left Davao. I spent some time in Makati, Digos and North Cotabato for work, and had the chance to see other cities and other countries on well-deserved vacations. I have enjoyed my stay in every city I have visited and I sorely miss some of them until now, but I always feel I am only visiting.

Also, I have several family members and close friends now working or living abroad, and I would not deny that I have, in many occasions, considered leaving too. But every after careful thought and reflection, I still feel that this is where I’m supposed to be; this is where I want to be. This is home.

So, why Davao? Allow me to break my (most significant) reasons down to a few main categories.


Davao offers a perfect balance of urban life and rural life, and one does not need to travel far and long to enjoy both sides.

To unwind from a busy day, week or month, I can choose to stay in the city and shop at the malls, watch a movie, bond with friends over delicious food, or enjoy the night with music and drinks in downtown bars; or I can take a short trip and spend time basking in nature’s glorious beauty in Eden Nature Park, in Jack’s Ridge or in Holy Infant Jesus of Prague Shrine. The beautiful beaches of Island Garden City of Samal, including the world-renowned Pearl Farm Beach Resort, are also just a few minutes away that I can make a quick escape and be back fully recharged in no time. I need not hop on a plane or go on a long road trip to find calm. Serenity patiently waits for me at another end of the city.

Thrill-seekers can also try wakeboarding in Deca Wakeboard Park, zip-lining in Zip City or in Outland Adventure, river tubing or whitewater rafting in Calinan, zorbing in Davao Zorv Park, or feeding crocodiles in Crocodile Park.  A quick boat ride from Sta. Ana Wharf can also take you to great scuba dive spots while a short road trip can bring you to your first step towards conquering the mighty Mt. Apo, the Philippines’ highest peak.


Davao takes pride in having Central 911, a free integrated emergency response system, as well as one of the most reliable police units in the country. Just a few weeks ago, my mother witnessed a traffic accident in Matina that left the motorcycle driver cringing in pain. Someone immediately called 911 and the mobile patrol unit got there in less than 5 minutes.

While many Dabawenyos may have been concerned about the recent crimes in the past weeks, I trust that Davao remains to be one of the safest places in the country. Davao is a big city and it is bound to have its own share of safety concerns.


Davao enjoys the bounty of Mindanao, including but not limited to fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and meat products. We also enjoy safe water almost everywhere, thanks to Davao City Water District’s world-class water system. This means we don’t need to buy bottled water every time, allowing us to save money as well as help save the environment.

Food also comes cheap here. My brother often gushes about the low price of fruits and vegetables in Bankerohan Market. My mother buys fish fresh from the fishers’ boats at considerably discounted prices. Also, while we were having dinner a couple of months back, my sister-in-law, who has been assigned to different cities as part of her work and now residing in Manila for quite some time, commented on how affordable dining in fancy restaurants here in Davao is.


I am very proud of the fact that the Kadayawan sa Dabaw Festival, the city’s main festival, celebrates not only the abundance of harvest but also the diversity of our culture. My father used to always bring me and my brother to the streets of San Pedro during the festivals to witness the parades and watch the different events showcasing our city’s rich heritage. Growing up exposed to such cultural diversity taught me to respect, appreciate and embrace the differences in people. This is something I would want to share with kids of future generations too.


My family is here. My (crazy) friends are here. Davao is not only a city of residence for me. It is the community I grew up in. It is the community that I find very difficult to leave. It is home. I cannot say what the future holds for me and my husband, but I know for certain that if I ever have to leave the city for good or for a long time, it would be a very agonizing decision to make.

Up until a few weeks ago, when people ask me why my husband and I have decided to stay in Davao despite several opportunities to try it outside, my answer was usually long and indirect. But recently, I found the perfect answer — my friends, Life Is Here in Davao.

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  1. Joyce Lamoste March 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    yeah, i definitely agree! I have been living in Davao from 1999 – 2011. That makes it about 12 years, that’s when I started High School, College, and finished my 3yr first work experience. Currently, I have transferred due to career improvement but I know that about 5 years from now, I will come back and retire in this great city. And one thing I could say is, I LOVE DAVAO!

    • DavaoBase March 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm - Reply

      Hey Joyce! Daghan na ta. We love Davao too! ♥

  2. Jonah March 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    wooohooo. you definitely put into words what a lot of us have been thinking. we are living the Filipino Dream :-) Hence the song I sing whenever I am on a flight back to Davao: I’m going back home, to Davao City, where the sunshine never fades. :-) Although honestly, i still haven’t tried a lot of the things you mentioned in your blog. like for example: where are these fisher boats your mom buys fish from?

    • DavaoBase March 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm - Reply

      Hindi ko pa rin na-try yung ibang mga activities for ‘thrill-seekers’ kuya Jonah, although na-try na ni Chito yung iba dun. I’m planning to try scuba driving soon, though. I recently realized na some people spend so much money (kasi they have to travel far pa) to try scuba diving, samantalang dito sa Davao, P850 lang at few minutes na boat ride, pde na makipag-bonding kay Nemo. =P

      Re: fish supply ni Mama, sa Bago Aplaya area. =)

  3. fritzie March 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    so true; I transferred to Davao in 2002; and the safety you mentioned is truly what I admire most in this city. I love it here

    • DavaoBase March 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm - Reply

      2002 diay ka nag-move to Davao, Fritz? 2002 man ta nahimong roommates sa UP, d ba? Time really flies so fast. It’s been 10 years na diay since nag-uban ta sa Kanluran. =)

  4. Denden March 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    100% true! :) there’s no place like Davao. It is laid-back unlike other urban cities. There are so many things to do in Davao and one need not travel long distances to enjoy the beach and nature..there is no place like HOME.. :)

    • DavaoBase March 6, 2012 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      I super agree, te Den. Pero kami sa ang mag “so many things to do in Davao” kay ikaw, bed rest ka muna. Hehe. Regards to kuya Balot. =)

  5. mitzi March 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    love Davao! & love this post!!!!
    Good luck Ley… unta ikaw mudaug!! :)

    • DavaoBase March 6, 2012 at 5:25 pm - Reply

      Hey, Mitzi aka Miss Lakwatsera, long time no see! Thanks kaayo! =)

  6. paul zamora March 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    I miss Davao sooooo much after living in Cebu for over 5 years now. Too bad I got married to a die hard Cebuana. LOL But when she first visited Davao a couple of years back, she fell in love with the place. So we’ll never know what can happen in time…

    • DavaoBase March 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm - Reply

      Yan ang mabuting asawa. Hehe. Maganda din yung nandyan kayo, Paul, para kapag pumunta kami ng Cebu para magbakasyon, meron kaming tour guide. =P

  7. Monique March 6, 2012 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    Love it! And I am really really hoping to be back soon. :)

    • DavaoBase March 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Niq. Text ka kung andito ka ha! Kelan pa kaya yung trip na years na natin pinlano nila Janjan and others? Hehe.

      • Monique March 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm - Reply

        Sige lang, sana matuloy soon. ;)

  8. Michelle March 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    Totally agree! There’s no place like home… and because Davao is home, there’s no place like Davao for me. Walang sinabi ang ating Makati days girl when compared to being here! Great post!

    • DavaoBase March 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Lingaw man pud atong Makati days, girl, with everything playing na burag naka-fast forward. Wehehe..

  9. Ron Abayon March 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Saludo ako sa truth nang article mo le! mainly because im one of the people who encourage you and chito to come here in sydney..mas malipayun jud hinoon diha sa atong dapit..mao tagabakasyon esp disyembre, davao juy ulian! Nia nmn gud tanan, suma pa!

    • DavaoBase March 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm - Reply

      Mao, ikaw na ang promotor sa Australia! Hehe. By the way, asa na akong durian, Lak? =P

    • Faust March 13, 2012 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      Ronaldo Abayon? is that you? hehehehe ^_^ how are you dude?

  10. raine March 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    i have the same sentiments ley.nice article…pang winner jud :)

    • DavaoBase March 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      Hahaha.. Pwede winner ta tanan, Raine? NIce pud imo post entry. :)

  11. Puti Cattleya March 7, 2012 at 12:07 am - Reply

    Great article BF!! Thank you for this article.

    Yes indeed! No other place like home.
    As you said, the comfort and joy Davao has been giving us is beyond compare.

    Whereever part of the world I am, I always look forward to going home when time permits.

    • DavaoBase March 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks BF! Sayang, wala kaayo ta kalaag laag while you were here. Sunod uli na lang nimo, kinang dako na si Miguel para dali na mabitbit maski asa! =)

  12. MaxiVelasco March 7, 2012 at 8:59 am - Reply

    I was born in QC but grew up in Davao City. I migrated to Sweden on June 2007 while my family relocated to Bulacan. We still have our house in Matina, DC. I’ve never been to Davao anymore. Whenever I fly to the Philippines for a short vacation, I only stay in Bulacan and the Metro Manila area.

    I so miss Davao… a lot.

    • DavaoBase March 7, 2012 at 1:53 pm - Reply

      Hi, Maxi. You should visit Davao the next time you’re in the Philippines. Madami na bago. =)

  13. GagayMD March 7, 2012 at 9:03 am - Reply

    gusto ko na atang umuwi..huhuhu

    • DavaoBase March 7, 2012 at 1:59 pm - Reply

      Hi, GagayMD. Nasa other country ka din ba?

  14. Jiji March 7, 2012 at 9:15 am - Reply

    I SUPER like it!

  15. Divine March 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Wow! Truly Life is here!!! I super duper like it! God Bless You♥♥ THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!

  16. au March 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    I definitely agree.Life is here in Davao. Nice article, leah! Ikaw na jud… hehe.

    • DavaoBase March 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Jiji, Divine and Au! =)

  17. g. mae March 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    thanks for sharing this “ode to davao”, it made me a little homesick. =)
    you’re right. Davao will always be home. when asked, i say “taga-Davao ako,” even though i was not born there. it will always be a place that will feel like home.

    • DavaoBase March 8, 2012 at 10:18 am - Reply

      Hi, g. mae! Tara na, bakasyon na kayo dito. =)

  18. rio March 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    hi…i actually agree…
    i’m here in Davao 3 weeks pa lng ako d2,.and now naghahanap ng work , coz I see serious opportunity here so I said to myself, I will start my new life here, new place, new people, new friends and new opportunity.
    So now I am not subject to the finds at work here in Davao because I see great hope I actually able see work immediately …. now, I really do love davao ….marami p akong gustong puntahan…i love durian huh..

    • DavaoBase March 8, 2012 at 10:20 am - Reply

      Good luck sa job hunt mo, rio, and have fun exploring Davao! =)

      • rio March 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm - Reply

        tnx po,i had planned to stay davao soon,and xplore specially the islands here,..-:)
        grabeh bungol q sa durian dria hehehe

  19. fierce_jhian March 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    I can relate to your blog entry, truly Davao is the perfect place for everything. I have been to many different places in the Philippines yet I always look for what Davao has to offer that I haven’t found in other place. As I always said ” You can see me everywhere but one thing for sure, I always come back and find my HOME in Davao.

    • DavaoBase March 8, 2012 at 10:26 am - Reply

      Hi, fierce_jhian! I agree. Mahirap talaga iwan ang Davao. Wherever we go, we always “bring” Davao along. =)

  20. Marcelino L. Severino III March 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    I agree with those reasons you have enumerated. I am most struck by the balance that Davao City offers to its citizens!

    • DavaoBase March 8, 2012 at 10:27 am - Reply

      Davao truly offers the best of both worlds. =)

  21. Jenny O'Toole March 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Born and bred in Davao. After 23 years of living in my home town I moved to England for settlement. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my home town anymore. I still visit it every 2 years. I have a house there and most of my family and friends are still there. There are more reasons for me to go back in my home town. Davao is HOME TOWN a place for me to live and die.

    • DavaoBase March 8, 2012 at 10:33 am - Reply

      Hi, Jenny! As they say, “You can take the girl out of Davao, but you cannot take Davao out of the girl.” =)

  22. juliusmabelle March 8, 2012 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Cheers to that! Davao will always be home.

  23. Jonas March 8, 2012 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Davao has maintained its quality of livability over the years… Truly life is here… Great article…

  24. jajasj March 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    A very well written article. It speaks of what Davao is – a home. It has been my comfort for the past years. I may be away, at the moment, but I will surely come back to stay! :)

    • DavaoBase March 9, 2012 at 8:52 am - Reply

      Thanks, juliusmabelle, Jonas and jajasj! =)

  25. Chin March 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Congratulations!, you have articulated what it is being in Davao. I am originally not from here, but I would definitely call Davao as HOME…:-). very nice article.

    • DavaoBase March 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Chin! Davao talaga is home not only to those born here but to everyone taken by its natural beauty. =)

  26. joan March 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Very well said lei…congrats in advance…GOD Bless!

    • DavaoBase March 12, 2012 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      Thanks, joan! God bless you too. =)

  27. paul March 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    That’s the reason why I plan to retire early,I work in hongkong as an architect for 20 years.And after my son finish his university six years from now, my wife and I will move to davao for good.Indeed life in davao is perfect.

    • DavaoBase March 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm - Reply

      Hi, paul. Truly, Davao offers the best for those who deserve the best. =)

  28. Michelle March 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm - Reply


  29. Mikhail March 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Congratulations for winning Davao Base! Even though I am from Digos, I get to appreciate Davao more through your posts. More power!

    • DavaoBase March 20, 2012 at 9:46 am - Reply

      Thanks, Mik! =) Igsoon ra man ang Digos ug Davao. Hehe. I have lots of great memories in Digos too and I know a lot of wonderful people there, including your parents. =)

  30. einnoc March 19, 2012 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    There’s no place lyk our Davao City….
    kung saan saan ka man mapunta, babalik at babalik ka rin!
    Truly, LIFE is here in Davao City!…

    • DavaoBase March 20, 2012 at 9:47 am - Reply

      Thanks, einnoc! I completely agree. =)

  31. Babynel yumang macias March 20, 2012 at 1:05 am - Reply

    Hi lei, it me babes remember ur classmate b4?:) congrats ha:)

    • DavaoBase March 20, 2012 at 9:49 am - Reply

      Of course, I remember you, my pretty classmate. Thanks, babes! =)

  32. Kiwi_pinay March 20, 2012 at 1:35 am - Reply

    Very nice! I was there in January this yr and will be back again in feb 2013. Haaay there’s really no place like home :)

    • DavaoBase March 20, 2012 at 10:00 am - Reply

      Thanks, Kiwi_pinay! Davao is such a wonderful home too. =)

  33. Sonny Borja March 20, 2012 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Congratulations for winning the 75th Araw ng Dabaw Blog Competition!

  34. joan March 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    i knew it! congrats again lei…pls. send our regards to your hubby, auntie julie, uncle dodong, yayos and family…from all of us here in Qatar (joan, lyn2X, junet)

    • DavaoBase March 20, 2012 at 10:35 pm - Reply

      Thanks! Ikaw diay ni nga joan? Hehe.. Regards pud to ‘te Lynlyn and ‘cle Junet. =)

  35. OLAN | The Travel Teller March 20, 2012 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    CONGRATS Davao Base. Well deserved. :) Long live DAVAO BLOGGERS!

    • DavaoBase March 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Travel Teller Olan! Congrats pud sa imo. Go Davao Bloggers! =)

  36. Mikhail Acebuche March 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    Nice article! It made me miss home even more.

    • DavaoBase March 20, 2012 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Mikhail. We’ll keep posting events and experiences here in Davao, so keep on visiting us so you can somehow stay connected with Davao. =)

  37. Juliet Lumba De Leon March 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    wow! well said…that’s my classmate, Leah..
    Life is really in Davao!
    Happy 75th Araw ng Davao!

    • DavaoBase March 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      Thanks, classmate Juliet! Kumusta na? =)

  38. clarice March 20, 2012 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Samot nako na miss ang Davao sa imo blog yang! Congratulations!!! Indeed Life is in Davao! Though we shifted our residence in Agusan but we still make sure that once or twice in a month makavisit kami. My family was hooked up with those very affordable fancy restaurants! By the way, thanks for all your blogs lalo na about great & superb restaurants in Davao it helps us a lot ;) Congrats again Leah!

    • DavaoBase March 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Cla! You’re welcome and keep on visiting! =)

  39. juramil March 21, 2012 at 9:30 am - Reply

    well, as i expected,no doubt that it would win for the reason that the writer of the blog had masterfully told her own story of life and indirectly pulling/inviting every reader to experience the quality of life she and every resident of this paradise like place have enjoyed .

    Further, even a child can clearly understand the words used by the blogger


    • DavaoBase March 21, 2012 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your kind words, juramil! =)

  40. PandeCoco Martin April 3, 2012 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    makahilak man sad tag durian ani madame… =(
    bsag di ko gakaon ug durian, but I am a full-blooded dabawenyo!!! i wanna go home….

    c u soon dakbayan!
    very nice post madame… =)

    • DavaoBase April 3, 2012 at 11:44 pm - Reply

      Blockbuster kaayo imohang username, PandeCoco Martin! Perti nakong katawa diri. Haha..

      Hala uy, grabe man pud na penitensya ng muhilak gyud ug durian. Hehe..

      Thanks for dropping by. =)

  41. Joey| May 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    Nice article Davao Base. I think most of the Dabawenyos maski wala na pinalanggang siyudad, they always tend to compare their current city to our beloved Davao. I’m guilty of doing it, always concluded Davao as best, sa way pabor-pabor. Because Life is there in Davao.

  42. Joey| May 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    I almost forgot, the old pic when you’re still young reminds me of same picture taken on that same spot ( City Hall) with my old sister. I can still remember the days ang mga tao mag papicture pa sa Ceasars og dra sa City Hall banda kay mao pay nindot nga view sauna. labaw na muandar ang fountain. Hayz. Fate, Bring me back to Davao!

    • DavaoBase May 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Joey. =)

  43. beerting July 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Love it! Tama jud. Been away with Davao during college, perfect jud ang word na BALANCE to describe our place, and working with the people here
    is excellently great.

    Food, Place and People – what more can you ask for?
    Snow na lang ang kulang para makatilaw pud ug white christmas diri.

  44. Kwon Jiyoung September 1, 2012 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    bag-o lang jud ni nako nabasahan! pero by the way CONGRATZ Ma’am for winning the writing contest! though RN nako na still hoping makawork sa hospital, i’m still waiting na naa koy oppurtunity diri-a… jobless pako but i still find way to find job here in Davao… i have lot of opportunities to go outside but i didn’t grab that chance because i always love Davao… Davao now has become updated as what we can see from today, though there are some still problems in the community, I hope it will be solved out… just emphasizing the improper settlers to be given proper location sites or suggest to build condominium affordable for them or let them made the own house by doing ‘Bayanihan’ so that we can maximize the space of Davao city, and improve the quality of life in here… i applaud also the effort of the policemen here in our city by preventing the d**g operation to grow bigger, i hope all d**g l**** will be punished according to law and to the law of God… actually I’m really an avid fan of K-pop, not just their music and dramas but i do adore their success even though it is a small country.. and i also love Japan because their country as what you can see in them that they plan to build their own country… but lastly, i still love Davao because of the memories and friends and people that I’ve encountered here… Lastly ma’am GOD BLESS AND MORE POWER…

  45. ting cb January 19, 2013 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    Congratz! Ever and ever i love my homeland.i missed u Davao City..:-)

  46. Shirley April 7, 2013 at 10:20 am - Reply

    i’m over a year old late ;D …but a great blog! I surely miss Davao and I always fly straight and only change plane in Manila. I’m glad that I get to go home during the Kadayawan (3 times already 2006/2008/2012) bisan mahal ang pamasahe during that month (August – Summer month).

    Food/Fruits are surely my main thing as they’re abundant and Durian is my favorite!

    Hope to see you again!

  47. randy December 4, 2013 at 3:50 am - Reply

    Pirmi po ako nagauli every year after christmas, kay mas safe mag new year diraa hehe and I miss my family din, pasig work ko kase. Parang walang kaibahan sa mga pinupuntahan like mga restaurants 7 eleven DQ and Jco na lang hulat nako. Kung naa lang ko mabalhinan diraa dira na gyud ko hehehe. See u!

  48. :) February 2, 2014 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Hello ma’am! Ikaw pala nagpasikat ng line “Life is Here”. Ang gaaaaaaaaling! Haha! Nakakagoosebumps yung ending ng article. Taray talaga :) Very inspiring! Godbless po

    • DavaoBase February 8, 2014 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      Thanks, everyone!

      To latest commenter: Uy, hindi naman! The contest theme was “Life Is Here.” :)

  49. Leif May 23, 2014 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Yeah! LIFE IS HERE IN DAVAO! I had stayed here since 2001 from college hanggang nag-graduate na ako nagkatrabaho and nagkaroon ng sariling pamilya. davao is considered as the safest city in the whole world :-)

  50. Andre November 4, 2014 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Awesome article and site. Kumusta na? Greetings from Lexington, Kentucky USA. I was born and raised in Davao City up until 17 years old. Came here to the US at 17. I’m 50 yrs old now. I’ve been here in the states for almost 32 years now. I miss Davao so much! It’s been 16 years now since the last time I was in Davao. Not by choice (personal and money reason). I’m might be a U.S. citizen now, but will always be a Pinoy. Davao is always on my mind and in my heart. I miss the food there big time. I miss the people also. Keep up the good work. Daghang Salamat.

  51. Karen Sumando February 26, 2015 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    It’s the only safest place that I know here in the phils. Where in you don’t have to worry going home late at night. People are friendly. Life in Davao is balance. Close to nature and enjoys urban city. I’m not from Davao but I choose to stay here for so long.

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