Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Putting Out the Lamp

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December 17, 2008 is supposed to be a good day. I woke up to greet my mom a ‘Happy Birthday’. My sisters were also having their Christmas Party in school. It was a promising day, until…

“What a wrong timing…”, my mom said.

She was the first one who greeted me with so much remorse.

“Your grandfather is gone. He died just this morning.”, she added.

I felt sad when I heard it. My grandfather died on my mom’s birthday. I wonder what she was feeling. She didn’t tell the rest of my family that it was her birthday.

My whole family is really sad. There was no happy face today. We all know that my grandfather was sick with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but it was not the cause of his death. Rather, it was due to pneumonia.

I miss my grandfather. My sisters and I call him “Lolo”. He was a kind man. Lolo would always take chances in raffle promos in the town plaza. And when he won, he would give the prize money to me and Krichelle.

However, we got separated from him when we had to move to another house.

I am sad. Yesterday, I went to the hospital to do an errand for my mother. My grandmother, Uncle Wilson, Nonoy Jr, and Borjok were there. They were taking care of Lolo. I saw him lying down and suffering because he couldn’t breathe. His phlegm was clogging his lungs. And the only way to remove it is through suction.

I greeted and kissed my Uncle and grandmother. Hey, you didn’t kiss your Lolo. It was a voice from inside my head. But I didn’t listen to it. “I will be back here in the hospital on Thursday. I can just kiss him then.”, I thought.

So now, I regret for not having kissed my Lolo yesterday. I didn’t know that it was my last chance to do so. Why did I stop myself from showing Lolo that I love him? Now, it’s too late, I cannot kiss my Lolo anymore.

But I know that Lolo will be sad if he will see me cry. So, I dedicate this article to him.

“I love you, Lolo. I know that you are in Heaven now.”

_______________________________________________________________________

“Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” –taken from http://www.famousinspiringquotes.com/author/Rabindranath_Tagore/

Friday, December 12, 2008

Starbucks Coffee® Bacolod: Now Open

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Starbucks Coffee is my favorite place to unwind. Nothing beats the aroma of coffee wafting through the air, the smiles of the baristas, and the world class drinks. That is my sanctuary on earth.

When I heard that Starbucks Coffee has finally opened in 18th Lacson St., Bacolod City, I was very much excited! Wow! Starbucks is here in Negros Occidental! I don’t need to dream of going back to Cebu just for me to have a Frappuccino! Really, I miss my favorite Toffee Nut Frap. And now, all I need to do is ride a bus for one hour and (voila!) I’m there!

As Gleenece once told me, “Wow, Kandace! You couldn’t come to Starbucks. So, Starbucks took the initiative to come to you! Hahaha!”

Yeah! And with this, I’m very thankful. I have always prayed to have my very own Starbucks in Negros Occidental. I mean, Starbucks followed me in Cebu and in Manila! Now, I’m pretty sure that Starbucks will follow me everywhere I go. It’s really true, happiness is easy to find.

I have always wanted to experience being a barista, even just for a short time. That is my short term goal. I want to discover coffee, to prepare it perfectly, to be a coffee master and to know the chemistry behind it. However, I’m so scared of what other people might think of me working there. It’s hard to make people understand.

Sigh! Sometimes, I just want to go to a place where no one knows me so that I can fulfill all of my dreams without hesitation. But no matter, with Starbucks finally in my reach, my dreams are being kept alive!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Big Surprise

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Chemist Board Exam Blog Series Part Ten

The Big Surprise

All of us were very happy when September 11, 2008 came. A whole load of pain was taken from our hearts. We were all relieved of the pressures of the Board Exam. Even if we didn’t know when the results will come out, it didn’t stop us from enjoying our time in Manila. As Ian told me, “What you will do now will not affect the results.”

A lot of us, including me, decided to go to the popular place called Divisoria. I was with the group of Jeb, Marvin, Gleenece, Bely, Jurgen, James, and Ate Ercel. We rode a jeepney going there. After a few minutes, Ate Ercel said that we reached the place. A lot of stores were completely covering the road that no jeepney could directly pass through.

On entering the place, we were greeted by a horde of stuffed toys! There were pigs, Looney tunes characters, Naruto and other anime stuffs. I was so amazed at the place that was Divisoria. It was truly a shopaholic’s heaven! I heard that they sell items there at a really cheap price. So, being a girl, I was overwhelmed by the familiar feeling of saying “Hey! That’s cute! How much is it?”. We purchased a lot of stuff at 168 Mall. Of course, I bought things for my sisters, for Bor. Apolonio, and for Ma’am Castañares. My most gorgeous find was a store full of chocolates at a lower price than those in the groceries! I just love chocolates! Each of us was bringing a huge striped bag afterwards.

After Divisoria, we headed off to SM Mall of Asia (MOA) by riding another jeep. We went down at Heritage Hotel, crossed the street, and found a shuttle going to MOA. After a few minutes, we got there and looked for a package counter to hide our big striped bags. In MOA, we found our other classmates and friends, Ella and others, who were sitting by the bench. Our concern was to enjoy life there. We looked for any “dimsum” but to no avail! Sigh! And then, we met Marvin’s sister, Alaine, in Starbucks. Together, we went to the hypermarket to buy beer and food for a night’s drinking session.

It was raining outside when we finally decided to go home. A lot of jeepney’s were falling in line and conductors were shouting. So, we got on a jeep that was second in line to a jeep going to Taft Avenue. But we were very unfamiliar with Manila and after a short jeep’s ride, we confirmed our worst fears: WE WERE LOST. It looked like we took the wrong jeep! The first jeep was headed for Taft but the second jeep was off to Laguna! Oh no! So, we just got off the jeep, not minding where we were.

Gleenece, Marvin, James, Jeb, and I decided to hire a taxi. No matter how expensive it would be. We were wet, cold, and lost in the rain. We didn’t know how to get home. So finally, a taxi driver agreed to let us ride going to Pius XII.

We were so relieved when we got home. And we laughed at our crazy adventure! Our friends who were waiting for us laughed, too. But oh! We were hungry when we got home. There was no way of going outside to eat as the rain was heavily pouring. So, we decided to make a phone call to Greenwich Pizza and order our meal. After about an hour, a very handsome man delivered our pizzas and all of us were very happy.

After that, Gleenece, Jeb, Marvin, and I started our drinking session. San Mig Light was my drink. It was bitter yet not full bodied. It was much diluted and I didn’t enjoy it. Gleenece, on the other hand, had just a few sips from her Pale Pilsen and she suddenly fell asleep. But the boys were tough: Pale Pilsen all the way down! Wow!

It was around 12 midnight when we were about to fall asleep. Gleenece was already in dreamland while I turned off our lampshade. I said a short prayer which ended this way, “Mama Mary, I believe in you and in God’s will for me. So, my faith is strong that I have passed the Board Exam. This moment is victorious for me: I have gone closer to you.” Then, I wrapped myself in my thick white blanket to sleep. But…

Rrrriiiiiiiiiinnnnngggggg……

Oh! It was my cellphone’s Robo N1X message alert tone. An SMS has just arrived. “Who could’ve texted at a time like this?”, I asked and then added, “Oh! It’s probably Ian. I’ll just read it tomorrow. I’m sure He’ll understand.” I was just too tired to care!

But the call of love is so strong that I couldn’t resist. I immediately came out from my blanket and grabbed the phone to read the message.

The results of the Board Exam are in!

My phone showed an anonymous number. At that moment, I didn’t know what to think or what to do next. It might have been just a practical joke from a friend who used a new number. This isn’t funny!

I gathered all of my energy and sanity as I replied an SMS, “Who’s this?”

After a few seconds, my cellphone rang again. The message was…

Anne

Oh! It was Anne, Jeb’s girlfriend! At that time, I got really scared. Anne is not the type to play practical jokes on people. My heart was beating fast and my I couldn’t even control my fingers as I replied to her messages. She was asking what our surnames were. At that time, I knew that she was serious.

The ones who passed are Jeb, Marvin, Kandace, Gleenece, Warner, Jason, Jerome, and Josephus. Congrats!

“God, what will I do?”, I just didn’t know what to do. And the first impulse that came through me was to phone Jeb in their room and tell them the news. I grabbed the phone and dialed 314. After a few rings, Jeb answered, “Hello?”. He sounded tired.

“Jeb, Anne texted me. She said that the results of the Board Exam are in!”, I replied.

“So? What did she say?”, Jeb was scared. His voice was cracking.

I told him all about my conversation with Anne. And later, Jeb and Marvin came running to our room! I woke Gleenece from her peaceful slumber and I told her the good news with all my might! Minutes later, all four of us were jumping and screaming the room as we celebrated and called our parents about it. The adrenalin rush was coursing through our veins. We didn’t feel tired and it was 1 AM.

But still, we weren’t all that convinced.

“Let’s ask permission to the Pius XII staff to let us go to a 24 hour internet café. I will not the totally convinced until I see the post myself.”, the boys suggested. Gleenece and I were scared. Manila is a dangerous place to go out during nightfall. But they persuaded us to go and they assured us that they will take care of everything.

So, we girls agreed. Pius XII gave us permission to go out provided we come back immediately.

We hired a taxi to the nearest 24 hour internet café and viewed the post. Our hands were cold and clammy at first. But when the computer got a result after every CTRL+F, we heaved a sigh of relief. We also looked for the names of our review center friends and told them the good news. We were extremely happy that we phoned our advisers about it. First, we phone Ma’am Gaya to ask for Sir Pat’s phone number. Hahaha! We didn’t care if it’s 2 AM! We were so proud of ourselves and at how our prayers worked!

It only took us a short time in the internet café. After that, we suddenly felt hungry. Looks like the effects of the adrenalin rush was kicking in. Jeb hired another taxi and he treated us to a 24 hour McDonald’s store. There, we bought spaghetti, chicken, ice cream, and drinks.

Home was next after that.

But Jeb said, “Let’s wake the others up! Let’s act sad and then break the good news to them! Let’s start with Warner and Jerome!”. And four persons with naughty laughs were walking down the corridors of Pius XII.

In Warner’s room, we acted out the scene and then burst out in laughter. “You’re a chemist now, dude!”, Marvin said. They were very shocked at the news. Jerome had teary eyes and all of us were jumping and screaming again. So the four persons became six.

“Josephus and Jason are next”, Jeb said.

Well, the whole scene of getting shocked, then jumping and screaming were evident in all eight of us. We were very happy. And after that, we went to Jeb’s room to eat our McDonald’s meal. Of course, we said our prayers to thank God, St. Jude Thaddeus, Mama Mary and all the others who’ve helped us.

God is truly good all the time!

Mama Mary is a wonderful woman. She brought me closer to God. She helped me in all of this. She helped me turn my loss of passion into a victory. All I had was faith. Now, all I know is that faith in your prayers are enough to make your dreams come true.

As Don Bosco once quoted, “Trust in Mary and you will see what miracles are.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

Two Exam Days

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Chemist Board Exam Series Part Nine

Two Exam Days

It was Mama Mary’s Birthday the day before the Board Exam. We celebrated that by attending the Holy Mass. And when night came, my friends (Gleenece, Jeb, Marvin, Warner, Josephus, Jerome, and Jason) and I gathered in Room 8 for a cramming session. Our mentors checked out on us from time to time. We were really scared but we didn’t let it conquer us. And by 10 PM, we headed off to sleep. We had a wakeup call at 5 AM.

Rrrriiiiiiiing.

It was my cellphone’s alarm ringing. Its volume was on maximum. But it wasn’t really needed. I didn’t have a good sleep that night probably because I was scared for the Board Exam that day. The cold shower surely waked me up! And that was all I needed to get my adrenalins running. Finally, it’s September 9, 2008!

All of us were wearing white tops. That was the uniform that PRC has ordered. It was a pleasing day: a good humid weather with no rain. The bus’s air conditioner heightened the coldness of that morning. We could see the white air coming out from the bus’s vents.

A lot of us prayed the Holy Rosary while on our way to the testing center: The Manuel L. Quezon University. We arrived late thanks to the boys that took long to get to the bus! But the proctor was very patient and he let us catch up with the class. He assigned me to seat no. 11. And he said further that four hours were the allotted time for each subject.

Bro. Apolonio gave me a set of prayer to pray on the day of the exam. And I never forgot to pray those. But at that time, I couldn’t keep myself calm. I could feel my hand trembling. My heart was beating fast. My hands were cold and clammy. Oh God, help! This is it! Thy will be done!

The first exam that we tackled was Inorganic Chemistry. I couldn’t even shade the questionnaire set (I was Set A) properly. I proceeded by reading the first question. Oh God, help! I can’t understand it! Then, I closed my eyes. Breathed in and out and prayed the three Hail Mary’s while doing so. That was all I needed to keep myself calm. And from that moment on, I relaxed a bit and my mind was clear. Then, I was myself again! I could easily analyze and answer the problems.

Inorganic Chemistry went well. It was pretty average. Some questions were very difficult, I must say. But it only comprised the minority of the exam.

When lunch came, we couldn’t help but discuss the questions and the probable answers of the exam. While doing so, we feasted on the Jollibee® two piece burger steak with rice and a glass of Coke®. After an hour of discussing and eating, we headed back to the testing center together. The next subject was rumored to be the Board Exam’s most difficult: Organic Chemistry.

Organic Chemistry happened to be my forte. So, the rumor didn’t scare me at all. However, as I took the exam, I realize that my knowledge in Organic Chemistry was not enough for me to say: This is easy. Most of the questions tackled on Biochemistry and Biotechnology. We didn’t expect that. The review center told us that the exam would comprise 10% of Biochemistry and 90% pure Organic Chemistry. But we were taking an exam of 50% Biochemistry (based on my POV).

It was something that we didn’t prepare for. So, the second exam was very, very difficult.

All of us were very silent as we headed home. We were drained of our energies. But the worry was there: Organic Chemistry was not expected to be that difficult! That was our main discussion in the bus as we headed home.

When night came, we didn’t have the usual group cramming session. Gleenece and I had some a very short review of some concepts before heading to sleep. And this time, God gave us a calming, long, and peaceful sleep.

Our mentors saw to it that we didn’t arrive late on the second day of our exam. They warned the boys to wake up early and go to the bus right away. We girls were on always on time. The weather was cloudy with some rain fall. It was suddenly September 10, 2008! Oh God, Help! Here we go again!

The third subject that we tackled was Analytical Chemistry. And man! It was more difficult than Organic Chemistry! The exam had a lot of electrochemistry questions. I just hate electrochemistry! It has a lot of math in it. I was hoping that the exam would have more spectrochemical problems, which I was more comfortable with. But it only had one or two. Oh my! I’m in trouble! But I believe that I can still pass this exam with your help, Oh God!

After four hours, it was time to go to the bus for lunch. All of us had the same menu that we had the day before: burger steak with rice and Coke®. We tried our best not to discuss the exams because it spawned heartaches within. I brought Ian’s letter and picture with me. It was my only inspiration. And I was very happy that I received a lot of SMS from him. Thank you, God! For this wonderful man!

I expected the next exam to be a nightmare for me. Physical Chemistry had always been my weakness and I just hoped that I did well in the last three exams so to cope up with the overall grade.

I went back to the classroom with a very pessimistic mentality. Physical Chemistry again! I hate this subject! And so, when the proctor gave us our questionnaires, I read the first question. Oh man! Still, I couldn’t understand it. So, I proceeded to the next question. Yes! Now this one is easy! Pure substitution!

Then, there was the third question. Am I dreaming? This is easy! Wow! Thank you, God!

It turned out that Physical Chemistry had the easiest questions of all. Most problems were substitutions and about one or two were difficult. It was easier than Inorganic Chemistry. The test was like that of high school Chemistry.

All of us went to the bus with a newfound happiness brought by Physical Chemistry. Finally, the four exams are over! It was like a Gaussian curve: starts with the easy, hard, harder, and easy. Wow! I was amazed at how happy I was that Physical Chemistry turned out that way.

“This exam was surely made for me. I hope that I did my best to make the most of it! Thanks, Mama Mary for keeping me calm and for making Physical Chemistry easy.”, I prayed.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More Prayers

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Chemist Board Exam Blog Series Part Eight

More Prayers

Sharing the same home could really make friends bond together. Back in Manila, my friends and I considered Pius XII Catholic Center to be our temporary home. In there, we discovered a new side of ourselves that is rarely explored –us being more religious than we look. Nothing is sweeter than home!

For personal reasons, I never planned to share my pilgrimage and set of prayers to my friends. “They may not find it significant.”, I thought. However, I was surprised one night when Gleenece, Jeb, and Marvin invited me to prayer. Well, I thought that it would only entail the Holy Rosary. So, I decided to go with them, the Holy Rosary was part of my prayer routine after all.

In our four years of being friend, we rarely discuss religion in our group. But during that night, they revealed a religious side of themselves. They introduced me to a new prayer: The Novena to St Jude Thaddeus. Wow! I saw that prayer in Sto. Rosario Church but I didn’t bother saying it, I already have a set of prayer and it was enough.

I didn’t know that they were also desperate to pass the Board Exam as I was! They chose to pray to St. Jude Thaddeus, the Patron of Hopeless and Impossible Cases. His title is very prestigious, I must say. He is the perfect choice for our group. So, without any second thoughts, I joined them in their prayer.

The Novena to St. Jude went this way:

Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus,the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficultcases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.

Intercede with God for me that He may bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receivethe consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, andsufferings, particularly -(make your request here) - and that I may praiseGod with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to beever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you asmy special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you. Amen

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude, pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

Pray the Our Father and the Hail Mary

This prayer has to be said six times a day for nine consecutive days. And I would like to suggest that you shouldn’t pray it six times in a row. Try to break it to pieces by praying a set of two during breakfast, lunch, and then dinner. That way, you can avoid mental lapses which could eventually lead to confusion. Really, we have experienced those symptoms.

After the novena, we prayed the Holy Rosary. It was for the first time that I prayed intimately with them. This made me very happy.

After a night of prayer with yellow lights coming from the lamp shade of the room, we had a short conversation. I found out that they also performed a pilgrimage! That surprised me. They weren’t the type to do that. All of us were really desperate!

They told me that they went to eight Churches in Metro Cebu. The churches were (in the words of Gleenece): 1. Lapulapu, 2. St. Joseph-Mandaue, 3.Adoration Convent- Banilad, 4. Carmelites, 5. Redemptorist, 6. Guadalupe, 7. Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, 8. Basilica del Sto. Niño.

I was really glad that they visited the Churches is Metro Cebu while I visited those in Cebu South. “God will really grant our request at this rate.”, I thought.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

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The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term.
The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well:

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.

Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, “It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct……leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting “Oh my God.”

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY “A”

==============================================================

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In Manila

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Chemist Board Exam Blog Series Part Seven

In Manila

September 7, 2008 marked our journey to Manila for the upcoming board exam. My friends from the Chemistry Review Center and I had fun in the Mactan International Airport while waiting for our scheduled time to fly. After a week’s vacation from reviewing, we missed each other very much. We took pictures of ourselves and the landscapes that surrounded us. Some of them said, “This could be my last photo in Cebu.”. They came from Davao and will be directly heading back there after the Board Exam.

All of us were both happy and scared. Happy because we will be staying in the Philippines’ metropolis for five to six days! But the tension of the Board exam scared our hearts! Passing the exam would determine our future in the scientific industry.

After about an hour’s flight to Manila, we safely arrived at NAIA Terminal 3. We immediately found Warner, Josephus, and Jerome waiting for us. They were our friends and they had their flight an hour before ours. But everyone wasn’t there yet. We waited until 11 AM for our mentors, Dr. Joy and Ma’am Abeth, and our friend Venus to arrive. They took the last morning flight from Cebu.

Our bus was all ready to take us to our hostel, The Pius XII Catholic Center, specifically in Friendship Hall II. The whole place was great! Two kind bellboys assisted us with our luggage from the bus to our room. The hostel’s foyer was so grand that it could pass as a luxurious hotel! Adorned with golden ceiling and flooring, the whole place basked in yellow lights. A chandelier was there to add in the grandiose scenery. All of us were amazed at how beautiful it was!

Later, we were given keys of our respective rooms. My roommate was my friend Gleenece and we occupied room no. 8. It was a convenient room because we were near our mentors’ quarters in room no. 7.

Gleenece and I really liked our room. It was very spacious, not to mention it has an air conditioner and a cable TV! Wow! We could unwind before our exams! That could absolutely make us relax from all the tension. Furthermore, the bathroom was so classy! The tiles were so clean and the lights were yellow! The shower had a heater. So, we didn’t have to worry about taking a bath at five in the morning! We could really say that our stay for Php 600 per person was worth it!

Personally, I was happy that we stayed in a Catholic Center. The place had a small church named after Sta. Maria Goretti. It was a Sunday when we arrived. And so, we attended the Holy Mass and prayed in there.

However, what really kept me inspired the whole time was the center’s Adoration Chapel beside the Church. It was air conditioned. A welcoming aura surrounds the place with its pink curtains, white wallpapers, and peaceful silence. There were no pews. Instead, cushions were on the floor and that made it unique. I could infer that they were adopting a zen concept of the place. I didn’t see a typical Altar table on front. Instead, I saw a garden. The Altar was surrounded by green plants. And on the center was a stone grotto which housed the Tabernacle. On the grotto’s bottom was a fountain which resembled a flowing spring. Looking at the influx of water calmed my mind and my spirit. Peaceful. Silent. Tranquil.

The view was so relaxing that it helped me in my meditations and prayers. I was so overwhelmed with the assurance that all of us could find spiritual support for the upcoming Board Exam. All of us were prepared. There was no turning back.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Movie Review: Twilight

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Twilight is Hollywood’s interpretation of the book authored by Stephenie Meyer. It is a highly romantic love story between a vampire and a human. The story revolves around the two lovers, Bella and Edward. Their tale starts off with a boring beginning, girl moves in and meets boy. As the story unfolds, the conflicts that develop make the story evolve into a romantic one with an added spice of suspense and thriller.

Twilight is ideal for teenagers for they can relate with the protagonist’s budding love story. With a lot of romantic pick up lines, you’re sure to get a shiver down your spine. It teaches some lessons about love. It tells the audience to love beyond differences, to deny one’s instincts, and to ultimately protect the other half. The love that the movie presents is an obsessive one.

The movie has awesome visual effects. The vampires’ features and powers are shown in great detail. But ultimately, the highlights of the effects were shown in the climax of the movie.

The sounds were superior. In suspense scenes, the sounds could thump your heart. On the negative, the movie’s romantic scenes have sounds and songs that lacked chemistry.

The actors of Twilight portrayed their roles well. What Robert Pattinson (who played Edward Cullen) lacks in looks, he makes up for his superb and persuasive vampire acting. Through him, you could easily know Edward’s character. However, Kristen Stewart (who played Bella Swan) still falls short in internalizing her character. But nevertheless, her performance was good. Other actors that played supporting roles were also convincing. The other vampires had a stir in their eyes and brought out an aura of fear.

Finally, the movie’s ending is nice. It sure will make the audience watch out for Hollywood’s next installation of Meyer’s Twilight saga.

Ratings:

Story: 4 stars

Visual Effects: 5 stars

Sound Effects: 5 stars

Actors: 4 stars

Promotional Poster Creativity: 5 stars

OVERALL: 4.5 stars

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mama Mary and Me

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Chemist Board Exam Blog Series Part Six

Mama Mary and Me

September 6, 2008 was one of the most memorable days of my life. For it is in this day that I successfully completed my first pilgrimage. I am finally about to reach my destination: Simala. It is a very popular place in Cebu. Furthermore, Simala is known as a place where Mama Mary presented a series of miracles through her sacred statue.

However, Mama Mary’s miracles were unknown to me. So, part of my journey was discovering the wonderful things that she has done. And of course! I planned to get at least six pieces of stampita for my loved ones. My cousin told me that a stampita is given to those who would sponsor a Holy Mass.

I was really worried of going to Simala alone. Oh! Where exactly in Cebu is it located? All I know was that it is in the mountains somewhere in Sibonga. And that is very far from where I live. Luckily, my mother decided to come to Cebu and accompany me. Surprisingly, my grandmother decided to tag along. So that solved the problem. At last! There was no need to worry about getting lost alone.

“There will be lots of people in there since the feast in Simala is nearing.”, my grandmother said. Mama Mary’s birthday is on 8th of September and they celebrate it annually. Despite that, I hoped that we could have a chance to pray in front of the Holy Image of Mary.

At six o’clock in the morning September 6, 2008, we were already riding a bus going to Sibonga. Amazingly, a lot of people in the bus were heading to Simala, as well. That was a relief!

We expected the trip to take along time. Then, about an hour later, many passengers were leaving the bus. “Myka, we’re already here!” , my grandmother called me.

“Whoa! That was fast! Looks like the bus really sped up! Finally! We’re here”, I thought.

Well, looks like I got excited too soon. When I saw the tricycles there with some people lining up for a ride, I inferred that the journey is not yet over. Not far from there, I saw a small billboard: “Mama Mary’s Sanctuary. This Way. Five Kilometers.” Oh no! It was another long ride down the road!

After what seemed to be an eternity, we finally arrived at the Church. It was still closed. We were there at around 7:00 AM but it opens at 8:00 AM. But the exterior of the church was already a busy place! Lots of people were crowding the restaurants, some were buying local fruits, and others were already lining up by the Church’s gate.

Since we had a lot of time to spare, we decided to look around and buy souvenirs and other items. By 7:45 AM, we lined up by the entrance. Everything went fine, except for the burning heat of the sun! But we were saved by our umbrellas.

At 8:15 AM, the church gates were opened. The people quickly rushed inside. Even my grandmother ran off, leaving me and my mother behind. They were running to the Church that they missed the great view that the whole place offered. It was still another long road going to the Church inside the gate.

However, while others were dashing, my mother and I took our time and observed the great view of the mountains that surround the Church! The images of the seven Archangels by the entrance greeted everyone as they come in. The route to the church was full of green plants, cottages, and fountains. The place was perfect for camping!

When we finally reached the Church, we followed the very long queue that stretched outside. We waited under the heat of the sun that we lost track of time. When we were nearing the sacred image, we were asked to take off our shoes as a sign that we were in a Holy Place. The Holy Image was located at the second floor, at the back of the Church Altar.

A beautiful Lady was shining like the sun in her shimmering golden vest. Her skin resembled rosy porcelain. She looked gentle and her charisma was welcoming! A burst of Holiness surrounded the place. As Mama Mary’s presence was felt, we were all conquered by the spirit of prayer.

I was very happy that I finally reached the pinnacle of my pilgrimage! I was very proud of myself because I was able to be successful in this endeavor. My mother and I decided to join the others by praying in the Adoration Chapel. It was a wonderful experience! I could feel a rush of emotions in my heart: of love, happiness, and excitement.

After that, I slowly got up and went down. Then, I ended up in the mini museum where I learned the miracles of Mama Mary in Simala. The Holy Image of Mary cried true tears a lot of times. The first miracle happened when Simala was plagued by dengue fever. The monks decided to help the people by conducting a prayer procession to Mary every morning in order to drive the mosquitoes away and for the healing of sick persons. Then one early morning, while the monks were having their prayers, the Statue of Mama Mary glowed and the whole place diffused a sweet smell of flowers. Furthermore, the monks saw that the Statue shed tears. They were so touched that they were also moved to tears. From that moment on, pilgrims came from all over the Philippines.

The mini museum also showed some Thank-you Letters written by persons who had their prayers answered. And a whole lot gave thanks to Mama Mary when they passed their respective board exams. There were nurses, lawyers, pharmacists, and many more. That place gave me hope that my friends and I could also pass the coming Chemist Licensure Examination.

After that, I was reunited with my mother and grandmother. Together, we attended the Holy Mass. Before going home, we strolled around the park-like exterior of the Church and made a wish in the wishing well.

It was a very busy Saturday for us. It was weird though. A setting of queuing, heat and a crowd would usually irritate and tire me. But on that special day, I felt different. I was energized and arrived home happy. As I packed my things ready for my flight to Manila the following day, a flicker of hope grew in my heart as I get ready to face the Chemist Licensure Examination!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Words from Audrey Hepburn

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For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.


Taken from: “An Elegant Spirit: An Autobiography” by Audrey Hepburn

Egg Tarts in Lord Stow’s Bakery

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When my friend told me about egg tarts at Lord Stow’s Bakery to be “very delicious and highly addictive”, I didn’t quite believe it.

“Yes, Kandace! Lord Stow’s Bakery makes the best egg tarts that I have ever tasted! In fact, that store is very popular in China Town.”, he said further.

I love good food. And when a person recommends me a restaurant, I get skeptic and try to taste it myself. Until then would I be convinced. So, I headed to SM Mall of Asia, looked for the said store, and bought a box of six at PhP 210.00.

True enough, the egg tarts in Lord Stow’s Bakery looked so well. Furthermore, the tarts are so warm, soft, and exude a fragrance of milky caramel. They looked like mini pies.

My first bite of the soft and chewy tart gave me instant satisfaction. I tasted a range of flavors: milk, cream, and eggs. All three merged into a unique and sweet pastry! I loved it!

And now, it’s my turn to recommend it to you!

Lord Stow’s Bakery stores in the Philippines are located in SM Mall of Asia, The Fort, and Glorietta among others.

Ratings:

Flavor of egg tarts: 5 stars

Staff accommodation: 5 stars

Store presentation: 4 stars

Price: 4 stars

OVERALL: 5 stars

Lyka and Myka

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Pets could mean a problem to me. Furthermore, it becomes a really big problem if the pet happens to be a dog! Oh! No matter how they’re tagged as “man’s bestfriend”, or how adorable they look, dogs still have those fox-like nose, jaw, and teeth that really give me Goosebumps.

Clearly, I have a phobia of dogs and I don’t know or how it started. My heart begins to fear whenever I hear their howls or barks. Moreover, I don’t like it when they approach me.


My stay in Manila has brought me to my aunt’s house. And yes! She has pets! Worse, she has, not one, but two dogs! Named Lyka and Macoi, both of them guard the first and second floors of the house, respectively. Lyka is a female of the Japanese Pits breed. Macoi, on the other hand, is a male of the half-labrador-half askal breed.

However, after about one week of stay, I grew fond of Lyka. On the first days in the house, she would gladly approach me but I would ignore her and put her away. Despite my doing, she kept on persisting to get my attention. Lyka was a very hyperactive dog. “That’s just normal”, as my aunt used to say. It is the nature of the Japanese Pits to be playful.


“We named her ‘Lyka’ because she resembles the white fox in ‘Lobo’”, my aunt said. ‘Lobo’ (Filipino for “fox”) was the title of the local TV series which starred Angel Locsin, who played the half-human-half-fox named “Lyka”.

Lyka was a very beautiful and cute dog. Her little body was covered by white fur. In fact, she really looked like a fox with her protruding nose, standing triangular ears, and curvy tail. Foxes give out an image of savagery, but Lyka’s eyes gave everything away. Unlike a fierce fox, she was very friendly and gentle.

Lyka always coaxed me to play with her. She would always put her two front paws on my knees, as if begging me to give her attention. As she did so, I felt the pulse in her paws which were throbbing so fast that I could feel her excitement. Furthermore, she liked to lick my hands and feet, but I couldn’t help but pull away. My phobia stopped me from getting close to her.

One of my most favorite cuddles that Lyka gave me was whenever she rubbed her whole body on my legs and feet. I loved the way Lyka’s fur tickled my skin!

Now that I am here in Negros for a break, I miss Lyka. I never thought that I would like a dog despite my cynophobia. Owning a pet isn’t such a bad idea after all. Well, maybe having almost the same name helped. Calling her “Lyka” sounded like my name “Myka”.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Long Journey

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Chemist Board Exam Blog Series Part 5

The Long Journey

When the quest approaches its completion, the pilgrim cannot help but feel a rush of adrenalin. Finally! After a long time, my journey is about to end. I only needed to visit three more churches.

Unexpectedly, my seventh church was St. Joseph the Worker Parish of Tabunok. I just got to a jeepney which happened to pass by it. The doors were open. So, without any second thoughts, I gave the driver a signal to stop.

It turned out the the church is celebrating its founding anniversary. The Holy Mass was being celebrated and I decided to stay for a while. And after the Mass, the priest invited everyone to go down to the basement for a banquet! Yummy! However, I didn't go there. Praying was my priority. I was also shy to mingle with new friends.

When the week's Saturday came, I was very eager to visit the last two churches. Beforehand, I have chosen the next church to be the Basilica del Sto. Nino. The last church remained unknown to me.

However, there was one problem. How do I get to Sto. Nino Church? What should I ride going there?

Taking my chances, I stood by the jeepney stop and listened to those jeep conductors' drills. Then, I finally heard, "Sto. Nino, Colon, Metro!". I hopped on that jeepney right away. After some time, I spotted a church.

"Maybe that's Sto. Nino Church!", I thought. I got down from the jeepney and observed the new environment I was in. Then, second thoughts came to mind. Sto. Nino Church is a very busy place with lots of people coming in and out. The church I was heading on at that moment had little people. In fact, only a gardener was outside and greeted me, "Good morning!"

"Good morning, too!", I replied. Then, as I looked around, I saw a billboard and the church's name was on it: Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. Obviously, it wasn't the church that I intended to go to. But it was still a church afterall. With much happiness, I went in to that eighth visited church and prayed.

So, God has decided for my ninth church to be Basilica del Sto. Nino. But going there was still a challenge for me.

The answer was very simple.

A jeep passed by outside Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. "Sto. Nino" was written on its signboard. I occupied the front seat as I said, "To Sto. Nino Cathedral, please."

"Huh? Sto. Nino? But it's near here, all you have to do is walk to the corner over there.", he replied as he pointed the way.

Oh! But I have a poor sense of direction. "Nah! I'll just ride!", I told the driver.

True enough, the jeep just made a right turn and stopped at the first corner. Oh my! That was so NEAR!

"That is Sto. Nino Cathedral. Just walk straight.", the driver said as he pointed on the church's visible entrance gate. Then, I gave thanks to that wonderful driver for leading me to my destination.

As I expected, the Basilica del Sto. Nino proved to be a busy place, full of kiosks outside and full of devotees inside.

While in the church and praying, one of the most amazing things happened to me. On one of my prayed Hail Marys, a sweet fragrance suggestive of roses filled the air. It seemed that I was the only one who smelled it. Other devotees were still praying on their own. Roses are a good sign, a miracle in essence. Roses are symbolic of Mama Mary, who seemed to congratulate me on successfully visiting my ninth church, the last stop before reaching the peak. But there were no roses in the altar...

After praying, I took a tour in the church. I also paid respect on the oldest image of Sto. Nino. Surprisingly, on one corner, I saw an oil painting of the church's old altar, which housed 15 images of Saints with Jesus. What's more amazing is the fact that almost all the Saints had their tabernacles pasted on that painting. The people weren't able to notice it. It was a blessing to me as I said a spontaneous prayer.

But of course, as my pilgrimage slowly ends, the memories of my visited churches put me in nostalgia. Life is a cycle, there are goodbyes and hellos. At that moment, my sadness was replaced by excitement as I was about to go to the ultimate destination of my pilgrimage: Mama Mary's Sanctuary in Simala.



Saturday, November 8, 2008

Happy 21st Birthday to ME!

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It's finally my 21st birthday! And I say goodbye to the sweet and innocent days and hello to the naughty world of adulthood! Ahahahaha!

Oh well, I wasn't so adventurous before I reached this age. My life was, well, boring. But despite my ordinary experiences, there were major events that made me the way that I am today.

The most memorable one was the Chemist Licensure Examination. Yup! I promised myself to write a blog about it. However, I have only finished part four out of twelve episodes. Hopefully, inspiration would hit me soon as I try to pick myself up.

The second most memorable one is the time that I entered the blog era! Hahaha! I wonder where I as before that! Blogging introduced me to the hearts of other people. It also gave me an opportunity to hone my writing skills.

The third most amazing experience for me is finishing my thesis in just ONE month! Phew! Last February 2008, Bubut and I went turbo speed in working on my thesis. Hahaha!

I would like to thank all the people who greeted me today: Aldwin, Ian, Ime, Joysh, Venus, Arlene, Ate Kaydee, Tita Dixie, and my family of course! And to all the who will greet me tonight, thanks in advance!

And finally, I thank God for giving me a year of experiences and love. I grew closer to him during the board exam days, through Mama Mary. Hopefully, this three month vacation will bring my lost passion back to my heart. That is the only way that I can serve Him who did me a lot of favors.

Thank you, Father!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Food Review: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts®

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Nothing thrills me more than free food! When I visited Manila, I found that the when the red neon light in Krispy Kreme stores is on, it's time to fall in line for free Original Glazed Donuts!

Each donut is made with passion for quality food. Soft doghnut topped with a range fit for the sweet tooth: sugar, chocolate, caramel, and candy among others. The size of the doughnut are not too heavy on the stomach and just right for snacks.

My favorites include the Limited Edtion Reese's Pieces and Kreme, the UAAP Ateneo Doughnut, and Hershey's Cookies and Kreme. But most of all, I go crazy over the specialty of the house: the Original Glazed Doughnut.

The prices of the doughnuts are somewhat reasonable. As of writing, the Original Glazed is sold at PhP 30.00 while other varieties cost PhP 38.00.

Krispy Kreme stores in the Philippines are located in SM Mall of Asia and SM Megamall. The staff and crew of each store is very accommodating. I give them two thumbs up!


Flavor of Doughnuts: 5 stars

Staff and crew: 5 stars

Store presentation: 5 stars

Price: 4 stars

OVERALL: 5 STARS

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gamer Style

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I am a gamer. And being a girl, games that bring out my feminine side attract me. However, my perspective of girly video games was limited to Barbie®, Bratz®, and Disney Princesses®.


My two cousins, Khristin and Jodi, introduced me to www.y8.com. It is a site full of Flash video games. And yes! Being girls, my cousins played dress ups, make ups, and cooking. Naturally, they invited me to try out these games, too.


Of all the Flash games, I found dress ups to be the most entertaining. It brought me back to my childhood days when I’d spent my allowance on paper dolls. Dress up games consumed most of my time, playing around two to three hours per day. Up to date, I have done 31 dress up dolls. You are free to look at my album in http://ultigamer.multiply.com/photos/album/10/Dress_Up_Games



I will feature my top three favorites: the awards night dress, school outfit, and casual clothes. These dress ups were taken with a personal touch, as if I were to waer these clothes. Sigh! If only I have some sponsors who’d give these for free!



Awards Night: along the red carpet, you see me walking elegantly in a purple gown, hidden underneath the black trench coat. The flowing green scarf adds some conservativeness to the outfit. But what can I do? It is cold in the conference hall. It would even be a lot colder for me who is going to receive an award later on the evening. On bright side, the sparkling diamond earrings stand out amidst the dark and cold night







School outfit: Black and white fashion clearly describes my campus attire. It exudes an aura of professionalism without looking too old for my age. A long-sleeved white top and a black miniskirt, coupled with stockings give a slightly conservative note that is just right for school. All these things should come with black bags and shoes. And don’t forget the spectacles! It turns an ordinary looking girl into an intelligent one.







Casual Clothes: There is only one reason why I go to a shopping mall: FOOD. Specifically, food in the form of coffee, ice cream, and cakes! While some girls go gaga over clothes, I go crazy over desserts! With that, my casual outfit should be easy to wear. A white pair of sleeveless top and pedal pushers gives a relaxing aura. The air-conditioned mall would keep me cold but the black blazer is here to save me! Finally, accessories should be minimal, as these interfere with the eating.






There were more dress ups that reflect my personality. Being a gamer really helps. Now, I know where to go if I were to experiment on some looks without wasting time, money, and energy. My style is focused on conservative fashion, or in other words, timely clothes without showing too much skin.


So what’s your style?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Closed and Open Churches

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Chemist Board Exam Blog Series Part 4

Closed and Open Churches


Catholic Churches have really big oak doors. During weekdays when the Holy Mass is rarely celebrated, those doors may appear to be closed at first observation. That sight is so unwelcoming that it erases piety. I had a problem with those big closed doors.


The town of Pardo has Sto. Tomas de Villanueva as their patron saint and their church bears his name. I chose Pardo to be a part of my pilgrimage with the church as my fourth visited sanctuary. Excitement filled me when I got off the jeepney. However, as I entered the gate and saw the closed big front door, my enthusiasm dissipated.



“Why is the church close?”, I asked myself. The fact that I went there on a Tuesday gave me a clue. I thought that churches are open 24/7 so that they can welcome people who wanted to pray. In a gloomy heart, I searched the place to see if there is an alternative door but to no avail. Since I was there already, I opted to pray by the big oak door instead.


After Sto. Tomas de Villanueva (El Pardo) Church, I took another jeepney going to my fifth chosen church. Found in Plaza Minglanilla, The Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Church stands in pride. I saw from a distance that the big main door is closed. With that, sadness began to fill my heart once more. But I had a hunch that the Church is open and that there is another way to enter. Walking around the church, I found a small door near the altar. It was open. Yeah! My intuition was correct! I entered without hesitation and said my prayer by the altar.

I immediately went home after my short visit in Minglanilla.

“I hope that the nest church is going to have opened doors. If not, I hope that there would be an open chapel nearby.”, I silently prayed after going to bed.

I thought that my prayer wasn’t answered when I arrived at Capitol a few days later and saw that the church was closed. “Oh! Might as well find the Adoration Chapel.”, I thought.
After asking some persons and exploring the place, I came upon the Divine Master Chapel. Oh! But the door was closed! I heaved a deep sigh! Then, it came upon me that I never tried to push the main door if it is closed. So, I twisted the doorknob to see if the door is open.

Squeak.

Yes! The door was open. I immediately came inside and observed the whole place. The interior captivated me. The tabernacle sparkled in its golden frame. “Fear not, I am with you.”, those words on the wall encouraged me.

After saying my prayers, I went out and to my surprise, the church was already open. “The church is open during lunch hours”, I inferred. Oh! Since I was already there, I decided to pray again at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish Church, my sixth visited sanctuary.

Really big closed doors give an unwelcoming atmosphere. After my experience in these churches, my fear has dispersed. God welcomes everyone but He presents them with closed doors. Each person is required to twist the doorknob and give the door a push in order to enter in His loving embrace.

(all photos by Marvin Maning http://www.flickr.com/people/2rokbotoy/)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Scallop Shell

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Chemist Board Exam Blog Series Part 4


Scallop Shell


“Wow! My first ever pilgrimage will get me to Simala!”. Embarking on a pilgrimage was a life changing experience for me. However, the thought was also scary at the same time. Going to different and strange places all alone is frightening for a girl. Oh yeah! I’m a naturally born coward. But heck! I always take on the saying, “Courage is not absence of fear; it is mastery of fear.” Now, can somebody tell me who wrote that quote? I forgot the poet.


My excitement got me into making a passport for it. That ‘passport’ served as my record in church visits. It also functioned as a reminder for my prayers, reflections, and realizations that I made along the way. On the cover of my passport is a scallop shell symbol. I decided to adapt it because the pilgrims to the Road of Santiago use it.


The first church that I visited was, of course, the Sto. Rosario Parish. At that time, they were celebrating their Diamond Jubilee and the church underwent renovation. I always go to there to pray and attend the Holy Mass.


USC-TC is my school and on one of its peaks is the Church of St. Arnold and St. Joseph. That church has been a part of my college life. One thing though, visiting that church is physically challenging. You have to climb several flights of stairs before reaching it. USC-TC is a mountain, or so they say. When I arrived in the church, my thighs were aching and my breath was running short. Phew! But everything went fine as I said my prayer in front of the altar. The blue lights of the interior were so relaxing that it erased my pains.


Next in line was my own Parish in Naga. St. Francis de Assisi is its name. A large stone statue of the Saint is its landmark. It is a church which partly follows the ancient architecture of old churches: the cross-patterned interior, the belfry, and all the other features. However, the church is merged with a completely modern design. The place was art. Its beauty helped me get in a prayerful state.


Well, let me give it a stop for now. Those were the first three churches that initiated my pilgrimage. Starting something as big as this thrilled me. I was so dedicated of continuing it through to its conclusion.


Watch out for more!


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