26 Best Things to Do in Dumaguete City

Friday, 28 April 2017

This guide to the best things to do in Dumaguete City will help you maximize your stay in this beautiful and charming seaside community.

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Dumaguete City, a tranquil waterfront community, is probably one of the most recommended places to explore when in search of a relaxed and slow-paced destination. Commonly known by its moniker as the City of Gentle People, Dumaguete City provides its visitors a breathtaking view of the Bohol Sea as well as a host of activities that will make their experience unforgettable. 

From Dumaguete City, one may ride a boat going to Apo Island, famous for its diving sites and snorkeling with sea turtles, or to the mystical Siquijor Island. There are so many places to explore around Dumaguete City.

Top things to do in Dumaguete City

26 Best Things to Do in Dumaguete City


    About Dumaguete City


    Dumaguete City is third class city and is the capital of the province of Negros Oriental. It is best described as a quiet city with a significant student population because of the presence of Silliman University that attracts students from all over the Visayas and Mindanao.

    MAP OF DUMAGUETE CITY

    Negros Oriental’s rich heritage and history, as well as its abundant natural attractions, make it an appealing destination to travelers. Located in Central Visayas, Negros Oriental can be easily reached by airplane via daily flights. 

    Three spots easily come to mind when Negros Oriental is mentioned– Manjuyod Sandbar, Dumaguete City, and Apo Island. Siquijor Island is also closely associated with Negros Oriental but it is a separate province altogether.

    Our primary goal for going to Negros Oriental was to see the Manjuyod Sandbar, one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the Philippines.

    However, before we got the chance to behold what Negros Oriental had to offer, we went through our fair share of shenanigans along the road. We are not complaining though because it made the trip even more worthwhile and memorable.

    How to go to Dumaguete City


    The best way to reach City is via air through the Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport. There are daily flights from Ninoy Aquino International Airport so reaching Dumaguete City is fairly easy.

    Cebu to Dumaguete City


    From Mactan International Airport, ride a cab going to South Bus Terminal, then ride any Dumaguete City-bound bus. Once you reach Dumaguete City, you can just alight at the bus terminal then ride a tricycle to your hotel.

    This is the option that we took since we came from our Bantayan Island trip. However, our journey going to Dumaguete City from Cebu is probably the longest we have embarked on so far. When we were planning this trip, we really wanted to sort of immerse ourselves in the experience by traveling via land.

    On the way to Manjuyod Sandbar, a famous tourist destination near Dumaguete City
    Boat ride

    We left Bantayan Island before lunch and were at Hagnaya Port after 40 minutes. We boarded a Ceres Bus bound for Tabo-an (Php165/pax) and requested to be dropped off at South Bus Terminal.

    We intended to catch a Dumaguete-bound Ceres Bus but, unfortunately, the last bus was already full when we got there at around 5:00PM. It turned out, heavy traffic is also a problem in Cebu, aggravated by the scattered rain showers and road repairs. 

    Anyway, we had to change plans right there and then. Since we were informed by the bus conductors that Liloan Port was closed, we took a bus bound for Bato via Oslob (Php205/head) instead and got off at Port of Bato in Santander town at the southernmost tip of Cebu.

    There, a ferry, bound for Tampi Port (Php70/head) in Negros Oriental, was waiting for the last bus to arrive. We boarded it and was at Negros Oriental in around 40 minutes.

    At Tampi Port, one may ride a jeepney, a multicab or rent a tricycle (Php350/2 pax) all the way to Dumaguete City. We were fortunate to catch a Ceres bus (Php65/head), the one we were supposed to board at South Bus Terminal, going to Dumaguete City.

    At last, after close to 10 hours of traveling, we arrived at The City of Gentle People safe and in one piece. That long journey traversing the entire island of Cebu was already quite an adventure in itself. The succeeding days in Dumaguete City, however, had a lot more in store for us.

    Dumaguete City to Cebu


    If you wish to go from Dumaguete City to Cebu, the most convenient and fastest option would be via plane from Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport to Mactan International Airport. However, you may also take a bus which will travel from Dumaguete City to Liloan via ferry. From Liloan, the bus will traverse the eastern side of Cebu until it reaches Cebu South Bus Terminal.

    What to do at Dumaguete City


    If I were to describe Dumaguete City, I would perhaps say that it is a romantic seaside town. It retains most of its old world charm such as its heritage houses and structures. Even with touches of modernity, Dumaguete City is still best explored on foot while marveling at its quaint charm. In the afternoon, the perfect way to end the day is to walk leisurely at Rizal Boulevard.

    Here are some of the things that you can do while in Dumaguete City

    1. Eat breakfast in a painitan


    Food is closely related to culture and tradition. When in Dumaguete City, do try to experience eating in a traditional painitan, or an establishment where Dumagueteños can grab a simple breakfast of rice cakes, bread, and coffee.

    Breakfast selection from a painitan in Dumaguete City
    Breakfast selection from Sison's painitan

    The painitan is actually a row of stores located inside the public market. When you do get to eat here, try the budbud kabog, a native cake that is similar to suman but is made of millet and coconut milk, and hot chocolate. It's a great power breakfast to fuel you until lunch time.


    2. Buy souvenirs at Handumanan Souvenir Shop


    Possibly the most popular souvenir shop in Dumaguete City is Handumanan Souvenir Shop. They sell almost all types of souvenir items here like t-shirts, key chains, ref magnets, as well as many other native crafts.

    Shopping for souvenirs at Handumanan Souvenir Shop in Dumaguete City
    Shopping for souvenirs at Handumanan Souvenir Shop

    The prices are also reasonable although we were not able to buy anything when we visited it.

    3. Eat in a seafood restaurant


    One of the best things that you can do in Dumaguete City is to eat in a seafood restaurant. Because fish and seafood are abundant in Dumaguete City, expect to have your fill of the freshest bounty from the sea at an affordable price.

    Seafood feast at Lantaw Native Restaurant in Dumaguete City
    Seafood feast at Lantaw Native Restaurant

    One of the restaurants that you could try is Lantaw Native Restaurant. For a satisfying feast of baked oysters, grilled fish, garlic butter shrimp, rice, vegetables and dessert, we paid only Php1008 for two people. The servings and the cuts are big so you would definitely end your meal with a full belly.

    4. Explore Silliman University


    Dumaguete is a university town because it is home to four universities: Foundation University, Negros Oriental State University, St. Paul University Dumaguete, and Silliman University. Among these four institutions of higher learning, Dumaguete City is perhaps best-known for Silliman University, the oldest American university in Asia.

    Silliman University in Dumaguete City
    Silliman Hall

    Should you wish to explore the campus grounds, just leave a valid ID to the guard-on-duty who will issue you a visitor's pass. We had the chance to explore the campus grounds and see Silliman Hall although we were not able to check out the Silliman University Anthropological Museum.

    5. Visit Silliman University Church


    The Presbyterian Silliman University Church is one of the most-recognizable buildings inside Silliman University. It traces its history back in the late 1800s when Presbyterian missionaries arrived in the Philippines.

    Silliman University Church in Dumaguete City
    Silliman University Church

    The Silliman University Church, even with a Presbyterian background, encourages students to practice their own religious beliefs. 

    6. Visit St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral


    One of the best-known landmarks in Dumaguete City is the 17th century St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, the oldest stone church in Negros.

    St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral in Dumaguete City
    St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral

    It did not look antique though, possibly because the façade was renovated but the altar stands grand and impressive with intricate pillars and arches that frame the tabernacle. Still, the church looks magnificent overall with its stunning arches and beautiful stone walls.

    7. Visit Campanario de Dumaguete


    Just beside the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral is a stone belfry called the Campanario de Dumaguete, said to be the oldest structure in the whole Visayas.

    Campanario de Dumaguete
    Campanario de Dumaguete

    The Campanario (bell tower) was originally built as a watchtower in the 1700s to be able to catch sight of incoming Moro intruders. It was built by then parish priest Don Jose Manuel Fernandez de Septien. The campanario, meanwhile, was added during the time of Fray Juan Felix dela Encarnacion in 1867.

    8. Take a walk at Quezon Park


    Across Campanario de Dumaguete is Quezon Park when one may take a leisurely walk or relax after walking around the city. Among Dumagueteños, Quezon Park is a popular spot for spending quiet afternoons after work or school.

    Quezon Park in Dumaguete City
    Photo courtesy of Dumaguete Tourism

    In this park, you will find statues of Jose Rizal and Maria Clara, some vintage canyons and fire truck, and the local tourism office.

    9. Take a leisurely stroll at Rizal Boulevard


    If I consider Dumaguete City as a romantic destination, it's because of the presence of Rizal Boulevard. There's really just something about seaside walkways and leisurely afternoon strolls that I consider to be utterly romantic.

    Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete City
    Rizal Boulevard

    As such, we did not let the opportunity pass to have a walk at Rizal Boulevard when we were in Dumaguete City. Rizal Boulevard is considered as one the city's historical landmarks because it is said that Dr. Jose Rizal once took a walk along this seaside stretch.

    Overlooking Dumaguete Bay, this boulevard is perfect for taking a laid-back walk as you wait for the sun to set.

    10. See the heritage houses of Dumaguete City


    Apart from the popular tourist sites in the city, you may also want to consider visiting heritage houses that are scattered throughout Dumaguete City.

    Heritage house in Dumaguete City
    A heritage house in Dumaguete City

    These are mostly Spanish-era houses that have withstood the test of time. You may get in touch with the local tourism office if you wish to arrange a tour or try contacting the local owners directly if you want to visit the houses.


    11. Eat sans rival and silvanas


    Dumaguete City is also best-known for sans rival and silvanas that's why it's a must to try these items when you are here. In face, you would most often hear people asking these items as pasalubong from their friends who are from or are visiting Dumaguete City.

    Enjoying sans rival and silvanas at Dumaguete City
    Sans rival, silvanas, and coffee

    After a day of walking throughout downtown Dumaguete City, we capped our day with coffee, sans rival, and silvanas from Sans Rival Bistro.

    12. Visit the evening street food stalls


    The evening food scene along Rizal Boulevard is alive and bustling. We heard that the street food, particularly tempura and seafood rolls, being sold in these food stalls are delicious and highly-recommended by other tourists so we checked them out come night time.

    Tempura and seafood roll in Dumaguete City
    Tempura and seafood roll

    The tempura is unlike the Japanese tempura that we normally know. It's a little bit like kikiam but is lighter in color and tastier. We enjoyed several skewers of tempura and seafood rolls in the night market and it was a nice experience.

    13. Participate in Buglasan Festival


    One should not also miss the Buglasan Festival that is held annually during the middle of October. It is dubbed as the "Festival of Festivals" and is perhaps one of the most colorful celebrations in Dumaguete City as it includes cultural events and competitions participated in by the cities and municipalities in Negros Oriental. The theme of the events revolve on the characteristics of Negros Oriental that make it a unique destination.

    14. Attend the Sandurot Festival


    One other festival that Dumaguete City proudly celebrates is the Sandurot Festival, held every middle of November. It focuses on the diverse and multi-cultural character of Dumaguete City and revolves around tradition, heritage, and the daily way of life in the city.

    Visitors who attend the Sandurot Festival will be given a peek into the traits that distinguish Dumaguete City from other municipalities around the Philippines.

    15. Visit the Sidlakang Negros Village


    The Sidlakang Negros Village is a fairly new tourist attraction in Dumaguete City. Inside the village, visitors will find native nipa huts or buildings built to house various Dumagueteño artworks, local products, and crafts. What is unique about this place is its goal of featuring the different cultures and traditions of the towns and cities of Negros Oriental.

    16. Visit the Chinese Bell Church


    Chinese Bell Church in Dumaguete City
    Photo courtesy of Dumaguete City - Negros Oriental

    The Chinese Bell Church is a colorful Taoist temple that is located at the southern end of Rizal Boulevard. If you would like to see a religious edifice aside from Catholic churches, then the Chinese Bell Church is definitely worth a visit in Dumaguete City.

    17. Make a side trip to Siquijor


    One of the most popular side trips when in Dumaguete City is Siquijor Island because of its proximity to the former. In fact, Siquijor, often dubbed as a mystical island because it is said to be home to many herbal doctors, is visible from Rizal Boulevard.

    Siquijor Island near Dumaguete City
    Photo courtesy of Siquijor Tourism

    Getting from Dumaguete City to Siquijor is easy because there are regular ferry boats going from Port of Dumaguete to Siquijor. Fares vary from P470 (tourist class) to P590 (business class), but the cheapest is P420 for open air passengers.

    Some of the things to look forward to in Siquijor is its magnificent beaches, beautiful dive sites, and stunning natural attractions such as waterfalls.


    18. Dive in Apo Island


    Diving in Apo Island near Dumaguete City
    Photo courtesy of Apo Island Beach Resort

    Another popular activity when in Negros Oriental is diving in Apo Island. The island is surrounded my a marine reserve, home to many colorful fishes and marine creatures but the one inhabitant that most divers look forward to meeting is the marine turtle.

    19. Taste Dumaguete's famous chicken inato


    One of the most recommended activities in Dumaguete City is to try chicken inato, or grilled chicken basted in sweet sauce and annatto oil. The rich smoky flavor of the chicken goes well with spicy vinegar dipping sauce and perfect with a steaming cup of rice. Perhaps the most famous chicken house in Dumaguete City is Jo's Chicken Inato which also serves grilled meats and other Filipino food favorites.

    20. Make a side trip to Manjuyod Sandbar


    One of the best side trips that you can take from Dumaguete City is to visit Manjuyod Sandbar in Sitio Punta, Brgy. Campuyo, Manjuyod. 
    While Manjuyod Sandbar, a 7-km. stretch of white sand, is under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Manjuyod, the most popular take-off point is via Bais City. Sandbars or shoals form when sand and other sediments are deposited on top of ridges in the sea floor. These become visible especially during low tide.

    At Manjuyod Sandbar near Dumaguete City
    Manjuyod Sandbar

    To go there, ride a Manjuyod-bound Ceres bus (Php55/head) by 5:00AM. We alighted at Bais City where Kuya Hadji (09774208051 and 09995226152, starts at Php1,700 for 2pax), our tour operator, was waiting to pick us up.

    It turned out, Kuya Hadji is one of the more popular tour operators in the area, conducting an average of 4-5 trips a day. He drove us to Capiñahan Wharf where a small boat was waiting to take us to the Manjuyod Sandbar. Kuya Hadji told us that the perfect time to go there was during low tide (7-9 am and 4-6 pm).

    To our disappointment, the Manjuyod Sandbar was not fully visible even if it was low tide but we thankfully found a segment that was exposed. We wasted no time and immediately explored the sandbar. Save for three "floating" cottages, the place was devoid of any luxury or amenity; Manjuyod Sandbar is a natural wonder in its most unadulterated glory.

    It was just a stretch of white sand and a seemingly endless horizon of aquamarine water. We stayed for three hours swimming and exploring the island. When it was already high tide, we decided to return to shore. We washed and freshened up at Kuya Hadji's grandma's house (Php20/pax) and by early afternoon, we were on the road back to Dumaguete.

    21. Visit Twin Lakes Dumaguete


    Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park near Dumaguete City
    Photo courtesy of Visit Negros Oriental

    The twin lakes are two small crater lakes, namely Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao. The area surrounding the two lakes is called the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park, which means that it is a protected area administered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It is an important bird area and is also home to several mammalian species.


    22. Travel to Niludhan Falls


    Niludhan Falls in Bayawan City is a beautiful falls that is worth your trek. The cascade of water is stunning especially when there is a huge volume of water flowing down.

    Niludhan Falls near Dumaguete City
    Photo courtesy of Travel Philippines

    Nevertheless, even with just streams of water cascading down, it is still a stunning sight to behold.

    23. Check out Talabong Mangrove Park


    The Talabong Mangrove Park is a mangrove forest reserve. It is a quiet place that is perfect for those who love trees and communing with nature, in general. The trees are labeled with their names so visiting the mangrove park can also be an educational activity.

    Talabong Mangrove Park near Dumaguete City
    Photo courtesy of Bais Tourim

    Here, you can enjoy the gentle sea breeze as well as the stunning view of the ocean. Depending on the season, the place is perfect for bird-watchers as there are migratory species that take refuge here.

    24. Visit the Old Baldwin Steam Train


    Old Baldwin Steam Train in Bais City near Dumaguete City
    Photo courtesy of Dumaguete City - Negros Oriental

    Steam locomotives used to be the primary mode of transportation from sugar plantations to sugar mills. If you want to feel nostalgic and be reminded of the glorious days of sugar plantations, then head over to the south of Bais city at Central Azucarera de Bais and see for yourself an ancient steam locomotive on display.

    25. Go on a dolphin-watching tour


    The dolphin-watching tour is more often included as part of the Manjuyod Sandbar tour package. Aside from idling at the unspoiled sandbar, you may also arrange with your tour operator a dolphin-watching activity at Tañon Strait, the Philippines’ largest marine protected area located between the islands of Negros and Cebu.

    Dolphin-watching in Tañon Strait near Dumaguete City
    Photo courtesy of Visit Negros Oriental

    This narrow body of water is home to 14 species of dolphins, including bottlenose, fraiser, spotted, spinner, and striped dolphins. Tour organizers recommend seeing the dolphins in the morning when they are more numerous. Dolphins also prefer calm waters so it’s best to go when the weather is fine.


    26. Join a whale-watching tour


    Aside from being home to dolphins, Tañon Strait is also haven for 14 species of whales like melon-headed whales, short-finned pilot whales, pygmy sperm whales, pygmy killer whales, and dwarf sperm whales, to name a few. Depending on the season, tour operators may include whale-watching in their Tañon Strait cruise package.

    Epilogue


    Dumaguete City is a beautiful seaside community that is worth every traveler's visit. It is peaceful and exudes a charm that would make you want to stay longer or not want to leave at all.

    In terms of getting around, most landmarks in Dumaguete City are proximate to one another so it is best to explore the city center on foot. If you prefer not to walk, tricycle is the other best option to roam around the area for a minimum fare of only Php10/head.

    Moreover, if you are booking a hotel in Dumaguete City, you might want to consider one that is right across Rizal Boulevard. Most popular restaurants and bars are located along the stretch parallel to Rizal Boulevard.

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      30 comments

      1. Thanks for sharing your vacation in Dumaguete! That was very informative. Though I noticed the sky was a little downcast when you went to the island. Must have been raining.

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      2. Yes, it was raining. Actually, the whole week when we were in Bantayan Island and Dumaguete, it was always drizzling. Thanks for dropping by!

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      3. More places to visit in the Philippines. Thanks for sharing :D

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      4. Glad to be of help. Yup, there are endless places to go to in the Philippines.

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      5. Nice review. I would like to ask the name of the Hotel across Rizal Boulevard please. Thank you

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      6. Thank you! There's Bethel Guest House and Honeycomb Tourist Inn, they're right across Rizal Boulevard.

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      7. Thanks for the response. We're Planning to visit Dumaguete this June.

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      8. Glad to be of help! Enjoy your upcoming trip! Thank you.

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      9. That sandbar is an absolute beauty! I love that it feels as though you have the island to yourself! Love seeing bits and pieces of the town too, from the market and the small shops. I will definitely consider visiting Dumaguete one of these days :)

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      10. You guys are such troopers for only having 3 hours of sleep after 10 hours of traveling! This looks like a beautiful part of the world (omg that stretch of white sand) and I'd love to explore Dumaguete City on foot.

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      11. Your commute going to Dumaguete sounds exhausting. But I think the trip was still worth it, especially the sandbar! <3

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      12. Beautiful clear water and historical sites...this looks like my perfect destination! I love learning all the details of places I've never been to and this blog post has so much information I'm excited just thinking about Dumaguete City!

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      13. I'm glad you were able to find a few sandbars to explore, although it didn't look like there was a lot of sealife around! I just toured some local Universities with my brother, so I think I'd love to check out the university as well! Thanks for sharing your adventure!

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      14. Philippines sounds cool for visiting. And thanks for the tips: traveling in foot makes immersion of culture easy.

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      15. Wow, you had quite the trek getting there, but the information on the problems you can run in to is really valuable. It looks beautiful once you made it to Dumaguete City. I would love to walk around the little shopping areas, and the sand bar would be a favorite, too!

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      16. I'm a big of of the Philippines so anywhere new I find out about is super exciting. I always love the deserted beaches, so calm and peaceful. Thanks for sharing :-)

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      17. You'll enjoy the many secluded beaches here. Visit the Philippines soon! Thanks for dropping by!

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      18. Yup, quite an adventure! Thanks for dropping by!

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      19. Thanks for dropping by! Visit the Philippines soon!

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      20. Yup, not much marine life. Dumaguete City is a beautiful waterfront university town. Hope you can visit the Philippines.

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      21. Thank you! We fell in love with this trip, too. We're actually hoping to go back soon.

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      22. It was worth all the commute! Thanks for dropping by!

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      23. It was worth all the commute! Thank you!

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      24. That adds to the whole adventure! And maybe we were just so excited with our trip. Yup, this part of the world is pristine.

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      25. That sandbar is even more beautiful when exposed. Thanks for dropping by!

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      26. That sandbar is even more beautiful when exposed. Thank you!

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      27. The Manjuyod Sandbar sounds really fascinating. A wonderful and unique phenomenon of nature. It was a pity that the entire sandbar was not visible, but however from what was visible it definitely is a unique landscape in the sea. Would love to visit this place. Today I have discovered another treasure of the Philippines.

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      28. Thank you for your kind words! This early, we're already planning on returning. Hope you get to see it, too. Happy travels!

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      29. These are terrific shots. Bookmarking this post for future reference.

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