Mt Irid: A silent prayer of a broken heart

mt irid

Mt. Irid | Sitio Sadlak | Brgy. Sta. Ines, Tanay, Rizal
10.01.2016 – 10.02.2016

Where do broken hearts go?…

 

After Mace and “That thing called Tadhana” inspired all the broken hearts to head north to Sagada, mine went east…

I was in the middled of letting go…of releasing the anguish and sorrows of a broken heart. And right when I was trying to hold on to my greater sanity I met 12 souls who walked with me to a higher ground…to a more peaceful heart.

Team Bes

12 souls, 1 Broken: Fresh Pa!

The sleepy two-hour jeepney trip to Brgy. Sta. Ines in Tanay via Cogeo was one of those peaceful journeys I’ve been. The morning chill of the provincial air and the scent of a rural day break had me hypnotized. My aching heart was brought back to life by the colors of a breaking dawn – shades of red, pink and purple beautifully painted on a blanket of low clouds…

The show of morning colors which reminded me that there was more after the breaking ended as we dived deep under the sea of clouds. Verdant hills and a sleepy community welcomed the 13 souls (one broken). Before we reached Brgy. Sta. Ines, the trail head of Mt. Irid, the monster we called jeep crossed about seven(7) rivers. Yes, there is no other way but to cross ‘em…like getting over a breaking, you don’t go around it…you cross over no matter what.

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The monster jeep crossing the river

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Team Bes, hiking with a purpose

Like any other mountain, we registered and made ourselves accounted for. When the dues were settled and guides secured, it was time to start walking…but no one ever starts with an empty tummy. The store across the street offers rice porridge with hard-boiled egg at P 15 a bowl. It was warm and filling. Make it hot and savory with a blend of home-made garlic chips and chilli oil!

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Lugaw with egg – fuel for the hike

From the barangay center the journey to Sitio Sadlak was an introduction to what was to be the hardest hike to-date. It’s like breaking my heart all over again. This time it’s not the heart but the knees and legs (LOL). The trail was peppered by river crossings [(eleven (11)] so get ready with the most suitable footwear, preferably those that can be worn wet.

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Flip flops aren’t the best footwear…I swear!

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Sitio Kinabuan and its Icy Waterfalls

I stopped drying my eyes off of the pain of being broken. This time I was all wet and cold from all the rivers I’ve crossed. We reached Sitio Kinabuan where we had lunch by the waterfalls.

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The water was cold…and the longer you were in the water, you get used to it like how my heart has gotten used to that thing called pain. Lunch, while they had theirs on plates and wares, I was digging in on a cup of noodles with a pair of chopsticks and they were laughing at my oddity (who would have thought of packing chopsticks on a hike?)

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My preferred portion of the falls

Getting over a breaking really needs focus and balance…like balancing rocks by the waterfalls. How far would you go…how high would your tower be? In the end, no matter how great your towers are, there is that someone who would dare to break them down so your heart can love again…

 

rock balancing

After lunch we started the final stretch to Sitio Sadlak, our camp site before assaulting the summit early the following morning.

Sunshine was so intense that river crossings became welcome refreshments. After the 11th river, comes the steep assault. It was a test, a re-acquaintance to the feeling of moving forward and healing. The pain in every stride was burning all the happy thoughts and memories. Each step was a reminder of how I got broken…why I was here breaking bones and burning lungs?!

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Reaching a flat surface high above isn’t as easy. My heart was racing and my lungs, they just can’t keep up! I threw up a couple of times like how I did trying to accept the fallout…But this was me trying to move on…have I? Oh well, they say it was just altitude sickness.  Mt. Irid was, after all the highest I’ve been.

We stopped for a bit to recover and to take part on another healing. We brought seedlings of fruit-bearing trees to plant. It was one of the requirements when hiking Mt. Irid. That’s 13 new trees we can revisit say 3 or 5 years later.

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This was the point when I realized how high we’ve come.

 

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Healing…planting for the future

A few more huff and puff under the scorching heat of the sun I noticed something dark and round sticking pretty snug between the last two stubby fingers of my left foot. High above the mountain I was oblivious of its presence…IT! hahaha…with the 11 rivers we crossed it has managed to cling to my aching feet and merrily fed itself to satisfaction! Yes, when I thought I got away from them, I was proven wrong…What am I talking about? Limatiks or commonly known as blood leeches. I got one and fed it to satisfaction. I was too grossed out to take a photo! (sorry).

And just when you thought you were almost there, muscle cramp steels your thunder! I walked-paused-walked (pretty much like crawling) my way to Sitio Sadlak high above the mountain with a stunning view of the summits of Mt. Irid and Tukduang Banoi. 

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Reaching that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! That’s how I felt when my butt finally found it’s place on a rock under a mighty tree (not sure what tree) beside a makeshift water fountain (yes, spring water fountain).

Nakakapagod magmahal! (Loving is just too tiresome!) pero mas nakakapagod mag move on (but it’s more exhausting to move on from a breaking). I slept pretty soundly on the bamboo bench after washing up. When I woke, it was time to put up the tents! We raised five tents for thirteen guys before the afternoon rain spoiled the outdoor evening plans. The sky was empathizing with me…for reals? It rained like there’s really no tomorrow…

 

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Faith, our greatest ally really works miracles. Our camp site has a bunk house for guides and porters who moves food from one village to another across mountains. The couple who owns the bunk house was gracious enough to have us as guests for the night while the rain continuously pounded the mountain top.

As we took refuge under the bunk house, we shared the floor (literally) and had a merry little dinner  of adobo and canned tuna.

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Dinner is served!

The rain had fun making love with the mountain that we decided to leave everything to the almighty God and for Him to bless our guides to make the best judgment…Then we all tucked our selves under anything we find warm in all corners of the bunk house.

At around past 1 in the morning I found myself shaking under the blanket. Apparently, the rain somehow has gotten tired of dancing with the mountains and had given way for our ascent to the summit. I felt the hands of God there who has granted my heart to heal in his grand creation.

We packed our bags with the essentials, particularly drinking water. I had a liter…I could’ve brought more. My dry bag had, apart from a liter of water had jellies chocolates and bread. We prayed to the Almighty to guide our expedition because the trail could be wet and slippery…

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Hiking in the dark…Head lamp is a must!

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I was wearing trail shoes because my experience on the first day with flip flops wasn’t as good as I hoped it could be. So we threaded the wet and muddy trail (if it was even a trail).  It felt like we were walking on a waterway as every step makes a sloshing sound with the combination of water and mud!

It was dark. It was slippery. It was everything you would fear when you’re outdoors. I held on all things I can get a hold of because if I don’t, I would end up either with a broken neck or better yet  dead with a crushed skull.

My journey to the summit of Mt. Irid was like my heart’s path to recovery – painfully beautiful. It demanded a lot of self-preserving moves that taught me to trust God and his plans and to trust the people around me because they were with me in this journey and that nobody would be left behind…

 

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Close to the summit

 

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Pitcher Plant!

The trail was steep, wet, muddy and slippery. I faced ravines in the dark trusting that the roots and branches next to me were God’s hands that will save me if I fall. It wasn’t easy but it was not impossible either. I held on to something more powerful…I held on to the hope that one day I will meet the one brave enough to break my walls and mend my brokenness.

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The neighboring mountains of Mt. Irid

 

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The summit view is totally worth the EFFORT!

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The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love – Hubert Humphrey

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I made it to the summit. I may have fallen behind a number of times, slipped on the muddy trail one too many but I survived Mt. Irid – my first major hike. Every step, each fall I made and each time my heart skipped a beat stepping and crawling on sharp rocky edges and holes were my prayers. They’ve been my bubbles of hope…my inspiration for moving forward.

 

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Nagmahal, Nasaktan, Na-survive ang Mt. Irid!
(Fell in love, have been broken – Survived Mt. Irid)

Mt. Irid
Sitio Sadlak, Sta. Ines
Tanay, Rizal
1,469+ MASL
Difficulty Level – 6/9 (Major Climb)


2 Days of adventure (October 1-2, 2016)
4 Hours from the trail head to Sitio Sadlak
5 Hours ascent from the camp site to the summit
4 hours to descend from the summit (back to Sitio Sadlak)
22 river crossings (11×2 = 22)


Arrived in Cubao at around 10PM in the evening…

Tired yet happy…satisfied and peaceful.

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Photo Credits:

Unmarked photos borrowed from:
PM Valera Garcia | Louie Diola |Otep Rey-Hipolito | Julios Terante | Keith Calansingin | Ryan Eric Figueroa

Batlag + Daranak Falls: When I go chasing waterfalls

Batlag Falls – sitting at the upstream of the more popular Daranak Falls, unassuming yet charming. How we ended up there was a bit of a novelty. 

 

The song goes… “Don’t go chasing waterfalls…please stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to…”

 

But the heart yearns for adrenaline pumping adventure…always.

[Back to reality] I couldn’t recall how the convo ended up with taking a plunge in a waterfalls. One thing after the other led me and two fairies from work to cook up a plan to chase the waterfalls of Tanay, Rizal last Friday (01/22/2016).

The Eerie Ride

Lay and I went out of our Makati office a little after five (5) in the morning to catch an early trip to Tanay, Rizal. We had a quick snack stop at Pan de Manila before jumping on a jeepney along Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong.

Now I am not familiar with the roads going east of the metro but somewhere along Ortigas Extension, a group of kids wearing PE uniforms came to load the nearly filled jeepney. As opposed to the usual practice, Tanay-bound jeeps have fare collectors situated at the rear of the vehicle. One of the kids handed some paper bills and coins while stating their destination – Tanay. I took their fare and handed it to the nearby collector. I told Lay, “ang layo naman nila mag-school” (their school is too far!) and she agreed. Not too long after, the jeepney ride became cramped as it has gotten full with passengers. It’s when we noticed that the kids were gone! Not a trace! It was fairly impossible for us not to notice them alighting the vehicle because they’d have to pass by us…creepy!

Arriving in Tanay and the unspoken ‘are we there, yet?’

Other than the early morning eerie ride, we arrived in Tanay, Rizal passed eight (8) in the morning after over two hours of butt-numbing jeepney ride. Apparently, the town is prepping for the grandest “fiesta”  in the province of Rizal [yun ang sabi ni kuya] making the navigation to the town center a bit tasking. Lay and I met Matet in front of 7-11 where we bought some essentials before flagging a tricycle to Daranak Falls which was still a bit far and deep into winding and hilly roads of both concrete and dirt.

The Epic Fail

We dragged ourselves out to Tanay on a Friday morning because we wanted to evade the typical weekend crowd. And there we were staring at about 4 jeepneys parked in front of the Government managed park. We paid the fees and started to trek the concrete path towards the grand waterfalls. With 4 jeepneys parked outside, we were not completely surprised to see a whole lot of…well, kids! It’s some sort of extra-curriculars for the Pasay students. We settled in a table in a little nook overlooking the huge falls, ate the home cooked menudo from Matet’s kitchen and mull over how we were to enjoy this trip. Lay’s plan on shooting with her gown/dress with the waterfalls was slipping away pretty fast.

Hello Batlag!

In our effort to enjoy the trip, I offered the more private “Batlag Falls“. It’s some 10-minute hike on a concrete pathway up the hill and a bit of downhill trek to reach Batlag Falls.

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Batlag Falls sits in a dense forest fitted with some tables and bamboo benches. As of this writing, camping is allowed it Batlag falls. We saw a tent in the not so distant clearing.

The water falls in an unconventional rock formation. This gives this falls a unique look and undeniable charm. With a rustic charm and cool, refreshing water, one cannot  help himself but to indulge and embrace nature’s pure love flowing [kahit hindi ako marunong lumangoy].

buddhame1My praying Buddha pose feigning  serenity

The boulders and the waterfalls inspired me to take that [Buddha] shot! It was refreshing while the sound of flowing water and the strength of the rocks assured me of peace and unwavering determination to achieve what I believe is rightfully mine.

under the falls

We are not afraid of what lies beneath nor what is ahead of us in the dark.

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Ang Diwata ng Talon (The nymph)

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Enjoying the water!

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With the waterfalls all to ourselves, we enjoyed doing all the stuff we wanted.  Nobody seemed to want to leave. Well, who would?!

On the left side of the grand yet unassuming falls is a solitary drop with a more silky water cascade and a bluish pool that is so inviting. Later we learned…it’s 15 feet deep. Being that I am not born a swimmer, let alone a diver (at 15 feet), I settled for the view and left the swimming to the seasoned. 🙂

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 Just when everything seemed to settle, time has it’s own way of reminding us that there is work when the sun sets. We headed down where the overfill of the enchanting Batlag flows – Daranak Falls.

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Coming from the very private Batlag Falls, Daranak is crowded.  Lay did not have that opportunity to wear that pink dress like how we did in Batlag. Surprisingly, the water was refreshingly cold! In addition, because the falls itself is big, its catch basin is bigger and deeper…something suitable for cliff diving (oh don’t even think about diving from the top of the waterfalls because that’s not allowed!)

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Oh! It was fun sharing the waterfalls din naman pala! LOL…We even forgot that manong trike  will come back and pick us up at 2PM and it was already passed 3 in the afternoon![we even saw kuya driver watching us from the cliff]. So we headed to the shower room to clean and get dressed. Yes, they have clean shower rooms for a minimal fee of P5.00. We asked to be dropped off at the palenke to ride a UVExpress  back to EDSA Crossing.

Total Damage for this waterfalls chase P 683.00

  • EDSA Crossing to Tanay – P 58
  • Tanay Trike to Daranak Falls – P 200 (3 of us get to split the cost)
  • Entrance Fee (Daranak) – P 50 (per person)
  • Entrance  Fee (Batlag Falls) – P 100 (per person)
    • if you prefer to rent a table/cottage – P200
  • Shower Room use – P 5.00 (per person)
  • Trike back to Tanay Public Market – P 200 (3 of us get to split the cost)
  • UV Express to EDSA Crossing – P 70 (individual fare)

**Food courtesy of Matet’s kitchen

Getting There

  • From EDSA Shaw, you can take a jeepney plying the Crossing Ilalim – Tanay – Crossing Ilalim route
  • Alight at Tanay town proper and flag a trike to Daranak Falls
    • you may want to get kuya trike’s number if you want to secure your ride back to the town center or take the ~3Km trek to the highway where you can find public transportation available
    • Bringing your own ride is an advantage. Daranak Falls has an available space for vehicle parking

Daranak Falls is a State-managed property.  More details on their facebook page –  Daranak Falls and Resort

This little adventure wasn’t too bad after all! There was no big drama on planning. Everything we needed was our nagging drive to get away from the hustles and stress of the city life and some guts to venture into a new sport we now call #chasingwaterfalls

Until the next big chase! #Laguna #waterfalls

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Isang Sakay Lang: Daranak and Batlag Falls

I’ve never seen a waterfall until two Saturdays ago. “Isang sakay lang”(just one ride) was all it takes for Airine ( a friend from the QA team) and I to agree on packing our bags on the way to Tanay, Rizal.

Our wandering feet threaded the deadly pedestrian lane where a recent accident happened to get to the waiting spot for jeepneys going to Tanay, Rizal.  Honestly, I did not consult my geography book nor google maps to see how far the town of Tanay is from Rockwel Business Center in Ortigas Avenue. I was holding on to Kimmee’s words “Isang sakay lang”.  At the end of the journey, Kimmee did keep her word. It was indeed just one ride from Ortigas to Tanay, Rizal.  It’s just that it was some two hours of butt-numbing jeepney ride!
Rizal is a mountainous province perched on the western slopes of the southern portion of the Sierra Madre mountain range. We’ve passed through Cainta, Antipolo, Teresa, Morong and Baras before finally reaching the town of Tanay. The view on the way to Tanay was really great!  After Antipolo, where the city seems to be busy, the road became less congested and we’ve seen more of nature’s beauty.  We’ve passed through the curves along the mountains of Rizal.  We’ve seen a great view of the vast green land down the hills.  It was also cold and the breeze was refreshing. It cleanses the lungs from the pollutants of the city.
We had lunch at Chowking in Tanay Market.  It was a hearty lunch after a very long drive.  On the other hand the weather wasn’t  really cooperative. A shower rinsed the dusty road that made the air thick and humid. After filling our empty tummy, we crossed the street to have a quick look at a factory outlet. Since we were not really that prepared for this one-ride impromptu kind of trip, I bought myself a pair of slippers and pants. After a quick shopping spree at the factory outlet we headed out to Save More for bottled water and some chips.

From Tanay Market, one has to hire a tricycle to get to the entrance of the state-managed Daranak Falls. Since Kimmee was the one who brought us to Tanay with her “isang sakay lang” pitch, we have her do the negotiation. She sealed the deal at Php 50.00/person (x4).  She also had the driver pick us up at around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. According to Kimmee, it was already a good deal because the going rate is at Php 200 per trip.  The driver’s initial asking price was Php 300. The other choice was to take a jeep and drop off at the big sign that says “To Daranak Falls” and take a 2.5 Km walk/hike. Hence, the Php 200  deal was all good for the four of us.

The tricycle ride was in itself a feature/highlight of the trip. Just imagine the four of us fitting into a tricycle.  What made it more of a challenge is the non-stop rain keeping the temperature cool. The wet feeling made it colder.

Kimmee and the backpacking geek
Just imagine fitting the four of us in this tricycle!


Right after the wet and bumpy ride, we arrived!

Welcome to Daranak Falls!

The State-managed park charges visitors Php 20.00.

The park is only open from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon.  Better plan your trip/activities ahead.  IN case you want to stay overnight you can stay at Batlag Falls.  It is a private property with huts you can rent for the entire night.

This is not the hut I am talking about for overnight stay.  This is a hut downstream from Daranak Falls catch basin.  But just in case you are  to sleep at night in this hut, would you be able to sleep?
Stream below the bridge.  You have to cross a bridge as soon as you enter the park.
Crossing the stream to Batlag Falls

I though this was the way across the river hehehe.  There’s an old wooden bridge pala! You got to be careful because it’s old, its kind of brittle and slippery when wet!

Okay! so this is the right way

Daranak Falls is a big falls coming from Batlag Falls upstream.  Whatever is flowing from Batlag goes to Daranak. We decided to see Batlag falls first since we will pass by Daranak on our way back.

To get to Batlag Falls you have to take a 5-10 minute steep hike.

The start of the 5 minute hike
after a couple of minutes…

The scenery of the steep slope to Batlag Falls.

poor frog! Ang mga nangyayari daw sa mga “echuserang frogs”
My second attempt to macro photography.  Not even sure it it can be called such!

And finally, we reached the gate!

According to most of the blogs Kimmee read before she tricked us via “isang sakay lang!” pitch, Batlag falls is better than Daranak.

Since it is a private property, the fee is relatively higher.  We paid Php 50.00 each.  According to the “manong” who welcomed us,overnight is allowed.  There are concrete cottages that can be rented.  I just forgot the prices he quoted. Anyway, I will update this page as soon as I get the info. We have plans of going back during the summer!

The welcome party!
crossing another bridge
First look at Batlag Falls

There are four falls in Batlag.

Getting closer to the falls…

crossing to get a closer look and feel
I found an old bottle of Tanduay Ice! I hope people are responsible  in keeping these resources clean!
Tables and chairs are all over the place.

You can make  use of the tables and chairs all around the place.  Some are on the shallow portion of the stream so you can eat while feeling the light tickling sensation from the smooth flow of cold water from the falls.

The cold water will really invite you to take a dip! The thing is, the rain just stopped when we arrived. The water at the top of the mountain came rushing in via Batlag Falls.  The water became dangerous.  Ang lakas ng tubig. Parang may bagyo lang! The strong gush of water resulted to the erosion of the river banks.  Ang ending ay isang choco fondue at choco lava!

Choco Lava!
The choco fondue! after the rain

We didn’t have the opportunity to take a dip on the cold water of the falls.  More than the discoloration of the water, swimming was prohibited due to the danger it may cause.  Of course we don’t want to go home in a body bag so we decided to just take pictures!

According to the care taker of the falls, the place has been featured in most of GMA 7’s fantaseryes.  The enchanting view of the falls made it the perfect setting for fantasy-themed soap operas like Encantadia.

Some props that were left behind from a fantaserye shoot

Nature trip is one of the things I love to do when I’m traveling. I enjoy seeing the wonders of mother nature more than the marvels created my mankind.  It’s nice to relax on places where peace can be found.

After the adventure of going to Tanay, it was time to pack and go home!

Rock Balancing! We were amazed by these work of arts! No glue or something, just plain balancing!
Siguradong BABALIK PO!
The hike to the relatively stable grounds before riding the tricycle!

It’s getting dark and we’re absolutely tired yet happy! With all the hiking and trekking, we needed the energy to go back to the city.  We asked for places to eat local food.  The guy who’s cleaning the shower area suggested that we try Parola or Halaman.  Parola (light house) is a restaurant serving local dishes.  It was called Parola becasue its just beside a lighthouse. We decided to have dinner at Halaman because it’s along the road with jeepneys plying the Tanay-Crossing (Shaw Blvd.) route.

Chopsuey-Ang crispy ng veggie at juicy
Crispy liempo (I think), pork in sour soup and grilled eggplant in shrimp paste

The dinner was superb! The soup’s sourness was perfect! and the rice serving was just enough for all the food we ordered!

It was time to go home.

After the meal, the total bill for each of the four of use was just Php 170!

Then there’s the Isang Sakay to Crossing (Shaw Boulevard).  I crossed EDSA on foot (well naka slippers) while my shoes were hanging on to my backpack. It was a bit awkward carrying my shoe on the bus to Makati so I went inside Star Mall to fit all my stuff in my backpack and put my stinking (LOL) shoes in the plastic bag.

When I reached home, I took a shower and crashed on my bed.  I woke up the next morning fresh and ready for another trip!

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