Jeepney riding for the uninitiated

A few weeks ago, during my Acculturation series, one of the articles I wrote was about how I enjoy riding jeepneys for my normal means of transportation.  After I wrote that article, somebody made a comment suggesting that perhaps I should write an article explaining the process of how to ride a jeepney.  Upon reflection, I think that was a good suggestion, so I thought I’d put together an article that kind of goes through the process of getting around town using a jeepney.  Keep in mind that 99% of my jeepney riding experience has been in Davao City, so of course my article will explain how it is to ride a jeep in Davao.  Around other parts of the country there would be slight differences, but for the most part this article should give you a good idea of how to ride the jeepney without making a fool of yourself.  Don’t worry, I took care of the part about looking like a fool, now I can tell you how to do it without going through that step! 😆

Choosing a Jeepney

Rural Jeepneys are really loaded
Rural Jeepneys are really loaded

Of course, the first step in riding a jeepney is that you have to choose which jeepney to ride on!  Keep in mind that Jeepneys don’t go down every single street in town!  No, they follow routes.  They generally ply the main thoroughfares in town, not the side streets and such.  So, in my case, I have to walk about a half mile (you can take the tricycle, of course, I prefer to walk) to get to the area where the Jeepneys pass by.  Now, once you get to the area where you can catch a Jeepney, you still have to decide which Jeepney to get on.  Jeepneys follow different routes, so you have to know which route goes to the part of town you want to get to.  Here in Davao, the Jeepney route is printed on the side of the Jeepney.  However, the jeeps can go by quite fast, so I find that there is not time to read the route, and you end up not knowing if it is the right jeep or not.  When I was first getting started on jeepney riding, I would usually just ask people.  Like, if I wanted to get to Aldevinco (a shopping center in Davao), I would just ask my nephew before leaving the house and he would let me know which jeepney to watch for.  This was a good way to get started, and he helped me a lot.  As I rode more and more, I would learn of other jeepney routes that would also pass by Aldevinco, or wherever I needed to get to.

If I was out and had not asked in advance about the route, I would just ask somebody in the area where I was.  For example, I remember one time, I was in the Uyanguren area of Davao, and needed to get to Gaisano Mall, but I didn’t know which Jeepney would be the right one to take.  I saw a fellow selling Buko Juice at the side of the street, and I asked him.  He told me to take the “Route 13” Jeepney, so that is what I did, and sure enough, I ended up right where I wanted to go!  I find that people are very willing, in fact happy to help you if you just ask them politely.

Now, there is another factor, in my opinion, when choosing a jeepney.  Here’s an old joke that will give you an idea of what I am talking about:

Bob:  How many people can fit into a jeepney?

Carlos:  Always one more!

Riding the jeepney with my son Aaron
Riding the jeepney with my son Aaron

In other words, they will squeeze as many people as possible into a jeepney, and it’s really true.  No matter how tight the people are packed in, they will always stop for one more passenger!  Frankly, I’m a big guy, and I don’t like getting squeezed in too tight!  When I am waiting for a jeepney, I never get on one that is already full, or one that is full in my opinion!  I like to have plenty of space, so I just wait for one to come by that has plenty of space, which usually is not a problem.  At certain “rush hour” times, though, it is hard to find a jeepney which is not cram packed with people.  I just avoid travel at those times.

Getting on the Jeepney

When you see a jeepney that is going to the area where you need to go, and has available space, just wave your hand to the driver and he will stop to pick you up.  At some areas, they just stop naturally, because it is an area where plenty of people are waiting for jeepneys, but if you are in a place that is not like this you just wave your hand, no problem!  Just get in the jeep through the back where the door is located, look for an empty area and sit down.  For me, I like to take the very back of the jeepney if it is available, so that I don’t have to duck down so low and walk way up to the front.  Being right in the back also makes it easy and quick to get off the jeepney when you reach your destination.  Of course, you can choose any location you want to take a seat, it’s a personal decision.  In fact, in many cases, if you want to sit in a location that is taken, you can just start to sit down and the people will scoot over to the side to make way for you.  Personally, I just choose a place that is already empty, though, so as not to inconvenience the other riders.  But, I do see it a lot where people just take a seat in an area that is already full, and the riders always just scoot over for the new passenger.

Paying for your ride

Of course, you need to pay the jeepney driver for your ride on the jeepney.  The standard fare is P8.  Some trips are more expensive, if you are going far.  I know of destinations in Davao that run up to P16.  You don’t have to pay immediately when you get on the jeepney, you can really pay any time before you get off.  If you don’t have exact change, it’s a good idea to pay early, though, not right when you want to disembark, because the driver needs time to make change for you.  Sometimes the driver does not have change, especially if you are paying with a P20 or larger bill, so if you pay early, he can get the change as more passengers board the jeepney.  Basically, when you are ready to pay, you just shout out “bayad” (which literally means “pay”) and you give your money to the driver.  If you are sitting toward the back of the jeepney, where you are separated by quite some distance from the driver, you still shout out “bayad” and then you give your money to another passenger who is closer to the driver, and that passenger will pass the money up to the driver.  In some instances, if the driver did not hear you when you said “bayad” the passenger who passes your change will say “bayad daw” which means “he said he will pay.”  If you paid in larger than exact change, the driver will pass back your change to the person who passed your payment, and that person will pass the change to you.  It’s all rather simple.  Remember,  if you are sitting around the middle of the jeepney, if people in the back want to pay, you should offer to pass their payment to the driver.

Riding the Jeepney
Riding the Jeepney

Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to let the driver know where you are going, so he will know how much the payment should be.  For example, today I rode the jeepney to Abreeza Mall.  When I was paying, I said:   “Bayad.  Sa Abreeza, palihug.”  Which means, “I will pay.  To Abreeza please.”  Now, if I have been on the jeepney for a while before paying, I need to also let the driver know where I got on, or he will not know how much the fare is from when I got on until I get where I am going.  So, in my case, I would say:  “Bayad.  Sa Abreeza, palihug, gikan Matina,” which means “I will pay.  To Abreeza, please, from Matina.”  If you pay when you first get on, you don’t need to say where you are coming from, because the driver already knows that you just got on the jeepney.

One thing to note on this, some jeepneys have not only drivers, but also conductors.  The job of the conductor is to get more passengers to ride the jeepney, and also usually the conductor is the one who handles the payments, so you don’t pay the driver, you pay the conductor.

Getting off

As you ride along in the jeepney, you need to watch for your destination.  When you reach the place you want to go to, you just let the driver know to stop.  There are several ways to do this.  Here in Davao, you can yell out, “Lugar lang,” meaning that this is the place you want to get off.  In other areas, like Manila, instead of saying “Lugar lang” you say “para.”  You can also knock on the ceiling of the jeep, and the driver will know that you want him to stop.  Another thing you can do is to tap a coin on the metal rail that you hold on to this clinging sound alerts the driver that he needs to stop for you.  Doing any of these things will let the driver know to stop.  You should generally wait until the driver has pulled over to the side of the road (usually they stop on the right side), and wait until the jeepney has come to a complete stop before getting off.

Like I said in my previous article, I really enjoy riding the jeepney!  I have been riding since about July or August of 2011, so I’ve got about 6 months experience in riding jeepneys now.  I feel like I know all the ins and outs of jeepney riding, which I am happy about.  When I first started, I was really in the dark, so I had some learning to do.  Learning is a good thing, though!

Happy Jeepney Riding, folks!

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1354 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

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  1. peterjoy says

    hi bob

    a good posting mate and like u i have spent a lot off time on them jeepneys u love or hate mate and with my back the way it is at this time it was hard for me to ge to off them after being in one for over 30 mis as that is how fare we are away from sm and the bank where we live mate but i love them and had some fun geting about on them at home and in manila too thay are a good way off seeing more off the place where u live and very safe too by all i have seen keep up the good work mate and take godo care ok……..peter martn tassie

    • says

      Hi peterjoy – How are you doing? Haven’t heard from you in a while!

      Yes, I find the jeepneys to be quite safe, and it sure is a good way to see the scenes, I agree on that.

  2. Jim Hannah says

    Love it Bob…this is the kind of post we were getting a couple of years ago that’s good riveting reading.

    I don’t think I’d be brave enough to ride the Jeepneys much, not knowing the language. Might give it a try when we’re there in March though.

    • says

      Hi Jim – Glad you found the article useful. Not much commenting on this one, though, so it seems that not many found it interesting! 😆

      Give the jeepney a try, you really don’t need to know the language to do it! 😉

  3. Ed Griffin says

    Good evening Bob! I will pay more attention in the future on jeepneys. Right now, I have a guide (fiancee’) with me. If not for her, I would be totally lost as for as transportation is concerned. I would suggest not riding alone for the first timers.
    I always carry a can of pepper spray should someone try to grab my fiancee’s purse. I carry no money. (No one can rob a foreigner who has no money). Haha! I had a friend’s money bag stolen a few years ago when she was distracted by her young daughter while riding the jeepney. Had a past gf robbed while riding a tricycle in the past too. Very insiteful article!

    • says

      Hi Ed – You must have been riding jeeps in Manila if you needed all of that protection. I have heard that riding a jeep there can be dangerous. Here in Davao, I have not heard of anybody being robbed on a jeepney.

      • Dave Harris says

        Most likely why u haven’t heard of any is because like here in Manila people will not report it to the Police.

          • Dave Harris says

            I really don’t thnk it’s crime free, i wouldn’t doubt if the ex-mayor Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter would allow the press to report any serious crimes, ruin their Dirty Harry persona. ahaha
            You can’t compare any city in the Philippines to Metro Manila for the simple fact that Metro Manila is the most densely populated city in the world, 44,000 people per square kilometer. And we have seen the scientific study’s of mice in a confined area, the more mice you put in the area the more violent they get.

              • Star says

                Bob is true! Why? Because Davao City is where I was born and live most of my life! I am a witness to the day to day life in my own beloved city. I’ve been to other places/cities in the Philippines but no place can replace Davao in my heart.:-)

                Bob, great that you discovered Davao City. I wonder if you are still living there? If you are, am sure you see more new developments than I do. I miss riding the jeepneys, savoring the abundance of fresh fruits, the people, food, everything! I shall return!

                Thank you for coming to Davao and for sharing your experiences to us!

  4. says

    Love the post Bob, and totally agree that riding the Jeepney is an awesome way to see the countryside and meet people. I personally love riding the Jeepney for those reasons, and because it is cheap. Unfortunately my wife is way too Americanized and insists on air-con cabs or privately hired vehicles for long trips. Life in the PHL gets too expensive for my taste if you live it like that!

    • says

      Hi Brent – I’m glad that you enjoyed my article. Feyma is also riding jeepney now, but less than I do. We own a car anyway, so she prefers to use that. I can understand, but I tend to prefer the jeep.

  5. Steve Maust says

    I like riding the jeepneys. I think it is a fun way to get around. I am like you in getting around on them in a way. I have not learned the language so I have to find an English speaking person to help me out. It is a lot cheaper to get around in Manila that way. One of the funny things for me was that my family members thought I would not like it. Thought it was to dirty and cheap for me! Ha ha. Little did they know at the time that I like cheap!
    Out in the province it is a lot like riding in the city. Only thing is they go greater distances and usually from one town to the next. The tricycles do the town routes. They do fill them up before pulling out. You many times have more people riding up top and hanging off the sides than inside.

    • says

      Hi Steve – Indeed, getting around on a jeep is dirt cheap! For anybody looking to save a bit of money, the jeepney is the way to go. I like it because it is stress free, and I find it enjoyable. You are right about the provincial jeepneys, they pack those things full to the rafters!

  6. roy says

    Hello Bob, you started riding jeeps only 6 months ago? Rather late don’t you think? Of course, when I was there I did not relish taking jeeps unless I am with a friend and we take the front seat so we can smoke (then!) or I am out of town and I feel like a tourist observing people. Jeepney riding is a good way to observe people. See how people behave in such conditions that are often cramped, exposed to elements like traffic.
    May I share a youtube video here that instructs rather humorously how to ride jeepneys in Manila?

    • says

      Hi Roy – Oh, don’t take me wrong. About six months ago, I made the jeepney my main mode of transportation for getting around town. I first rode a jeepney in 1999, but it was never my main mode of transportation until a few months back. I bought a car just a couple weeks after coming to the Philippines, so I had my own transpiration. I still have a car, but I just don’t drive it much.

  7. Dine says


    Just to let you know that I am really in trouble.. it seems like my favorite leisure time is visiting your site wherever I have the time, at work or at home or even on my vacation! This topic made me laugh especially Dan’s YOU Tube VIDEO. Every time we go home we take a taxi to commute but my little girl loves to be on a jeepney. She thought it is so cool, my husband likes it also. Using a jeepney to commute from one point to another makes your dollar go a long way, although it can be uncomfortable at times due to the heat. I wonder if anybody had thought of an airconditioned jeepney? They might need to increase the fare some. Taking a jeepney takes alot of precautions…be sure that you have your wallet out of site or place it at the center of your body. Pickpockets are always the biggest issue in taking this kind of transportation. Otherwise, this is a big way to save and make life more enjoyable, manageable and unique living in the Philippines.

  8. Russell says

    Hi everyone,I loved riding the jeepney as much as possible when I was in fili last year.I always tried to sit at the back because I am a big fella and it is hard bending to get along the aisle.One day we rode from the markets at Batangas and I could here a chirping sound.Quite funny actually when u consider the roar of the jeepneys with no mufflers etc.Anyway I looked around the passengers and there right opposite me was a lady with a baby duck in her hands.I took a great photo of her and was very pleased we rode the jeepney that day.

    • says

      Hi Russell – Sounds like a wonderful day! I have a number of similar stories as well with people carrying various types of animals on jeepneys. I especially enjoy seeing young kids on the jeepney. Filipino kids are so cute anyway, and really melt my heart. Riding the jeepney gives plenty of opportunities for special instances like this.

      • Dave Harris says

        One of my most memorable jeepney ride was a about 1 yr ago. Had to take a jeepney on a 30 min ride, on the way the jeepney stopped by a local college and the jeep was full of young filipinas. They all had questions about the states, and when i got off and the jeep was leaving a dozen young ladys yelled bye. Laughed about it the whole day.

  9. John Miele says

    Bob: I ride the jeepneys for short trips in Manila… Don’t understand why people think they are dangerous. I’ve never experienced even a minor feeling of threat on them here. In fact, for those who get wrapped up about Kano pricing and so on, the jeepneys are a great equalizer… Everyone pays the same, and the rates are set by law. In fact, I would say that you are perfectly safe on a jeep here, since there are always other people onboard. The biggest hassle with the jeeps is that if you are carrying anything more than a small bag, they can be a pain (Though on provincial jeeps the driver will usually even get out and ties stuff on the roof for you if you have a lot to carry)

  10. Stevo says

    Hi Bob, When we were visiting last year in Davao, we started taking the jeepney more. Our kids love them of course, and my wife couldn’t believe that I could ride it by myself! Hey, if you are polite, like you said, people will help you find your way. I suppose that a lot of Filipnos are used to rude foreigners. I really try to be patient…. I can get around anywhere, if I know where I am supposed to go. And people usually tell me where to go a lot,ha ha. I like to ride ” shotgun ” sometimes on the Jeepney.

  11. Patrik says

    In the place where I live pickpocket in is a problem. There are gangs of 5-6 guys who enter a jeepney and target mostly foreigners but also locals. They try to distract the victim by dropping coins in front of him while the guy beside him try to take his wallet. I’ve been the targeted victim several times, but they have never been successful. My wallet is so crammed with receipts and other paper that even I have problems to get it out of the pocket…

    A good way to avoid pickpocket and also get a more comfortable trip is to sit in the front seat (beside the driver) and pay double fare (16P) so nobody will sit beside you.

  12. Dave Keiser says

    Bob, When I spent a week in Illigan getting the motor for my pickup rebuilt, I had to learn the Jeepney system real fast. It always amazed me at how quiet and reserved people were when forced to sit upon each other. Americans would never tolerate the “sardine” treatment like Pinoys do. The coin on the roof rail trick was the first thing I learned. Oddly enough, I have not seen too many Jeepneys going down the street in our present location of Yankton South Dakota. It could have something to do with the below zero temperatures that would wisk through the open windows during January.

    • says

      Hi Dave – Amazing that you can’t find the jeepneys there in Yankton! ha ha…. you are right, my friend, Americans would never tolerate jeepney riding, and for a number of reasons!

  13. says

    Hi Bob, My friend Glenn and I rode the Jeepneys in San Fernando, La Union. We used the word “bayad” also – is that Tagalog? or just a universal word to pay? It was a nice experience. We paid, but didn’t know where we were going besides into the town, so we ended up at the loading station in town – no problem. Thanks for the tip on how to signal to get off. Didn’t know that either!

    • says

      Hi John – Bayad is both Tagalog and Bisaya. I don’t know that it is universal, there are so many languages in the Philippines, but I know it is the same in the two major Philippine languages.

  14. Speb Freespiritme says

    Hi Bob,

    Nice article.. but I have to say that the best jeep rides i know are in Olongapo and Subic, all jeepneys are color coded according to their routes. If you ask for directions people will tell you what color of jeepney to take. When I lived there it was the yellow jeeps that go around the city proper. Another thing unique in Gapo Jeeps is that they have strings you can pull that lights a bulb infront of the driver which tells him that you want him to stop to get off.

  15. Chris Simpson says

    Hi Bob, you reminded me of a story last time I flew through Manila.
    My wife being up in Zambales heavily pregnant with a 2 year old by her side, I did not want travelling to the city, so I thought I will do Manila on my own at about 1am on a Saturday. I walked out of the airport, right out past the gate, to avoid the rip offs (I don’t like 10 times normal price cabs) and headed for a beer in EDSA. After jumping out of 2 taxis who refused to go the proper route, I walked most of the way.
    Buying a coke on the steamy roadside at 1am pouring sweat with a backpack on, in an area where there are NO kano around at all, I was fine until I left a coin for a kid at the sari sari, like I have done a thousand times in the provinces, with no ill effect.
    Next thing I know I’ve got a gang of about a dozen beggar kids pawing me. A shopkeeper kindly brushed them off me and told me if I wanted a lift I could wait, or take my chances with the jeepneys. For some reason there were no cabs around.
    Thanks God for the jeepney drivers.
    Their intuition is superb, the moment I thought it there was a driver lip pointing me and yelling the kids off as I got on.
    Many times I have hired a jeepney rather than pay kano cab tax in particular areas at particular times. In places I am not familiar I trust a random jeepney driver quicker than a cabbie. I tend to travel on gut instinct and very basic Tagalog without trouble.
    The 8 peso fare is ‘per section’ a section I have never met anyone who knows exactly how far apart they are supposed to be, but it’s around 800 meters from various places I’ve caught them.

      • Chris Simpson says

        Far out literally! In Zambales there seem to be different zones depending if you are crossing town or going between towns, I asked me wife and she said I have mixed up the way trikes charge with Jeepneys. All my trips have either been short barangay to barangay or hires of the whole jeep. Is it one of those many things regulated by law over there?

      • Chris Simpson says

        Far out literally! In Zambales there seem to be different zones depending if you are crossing town or going between towns, I asked me wife and she said I have mixed up the way trikes charge with Jeepneys. All my trips have either been short barangay to barangay or hires of the whole jeep. Is it one of those many things regulated by law over there?

  16. Mark G. says

    Good article Bob. I’ve had fun on the jeepneys in Manila. There are few in the province and they go from town to town. We mostly use tricycles there (though I don’t fit real well) As far as the taxis at BAIA go as long as you get in a yellow or white airport approved taxi you generally won’t be cheated. I only had it happen once in probably two dozen times. I have had to negotiate with other taxi drivers sometimes though with mixed results. I never had a problem with a jeepney driver charging too much!

  17. ScottB says

    Hi Bob,

    Well I’ve only been in the Philippines for under two weeks and have yet to ride a jeepney, although the rural areas of Bohol don’t seem to have too many of them. Or maybe I just haven’t been in the right places. I will try to ride one before I leave. I did have an interesting experience on the express van from Tubigon to Tagbilarin: like you said about the jeepneys, they pack as many in those vans as they can — I understand that they’re just trying to maximize their profits. Being a large guy also, I ended up filling two spaces in the van . . . when I went to pay, they insisted on my paying double. My Filipino friend said he had never seen that happen before.

    I have enjoyed my experiences here tremendously. Already looking forward to the next visit and I haven’t ended the first one! I appreciate your articles even more now that I’ve made a tiny scratch in experiencing life in the Philippines.

    • says

      Hi ScottB – In rural areas, there are certainly fewer jeepneys. Paying double on those vans is common too, it’s not unusual at all.

      Enjoy your stay in the Philippines.

  18. Chris Simpson says

    Hey Bob, if you are going to delete comments, effectively wasting people’s time who have posted comments, wouldn’t it be better to explain why? Especially when there is no abusive anything on them?

      • John Miele says

        Bob: After your DB problems, I though the same thing until I saw that the comments are now newest first and there is a “older” and “newer” tab at the bottom… The old method listing them all in order was different until I stopped a minute and realized the new structure.

        • says

          No problem, John. Unfortunately, I had no choice but to make a change in the way that the comments are displayed, due to a demand from my website host.

          Unfortunately, Chris Simpson has always been one to make accusations first, before really looking at what is going on. I have had the same issue with him in the past where he has accused me of doing things that were never done.

          • Mars Z. says

            Hi Bob/John, I noticed the same thing too, but saw the tab. Maybe for somebody that is new to the site, won’t be able to see the old comments and won’t get the whole story and flow of conversation, oh well–it is what it is I guess–limits of technology. Work with what you have, not what you want!


          • Steve Maust says

            I have noticed the change also. I forget still sometimes there are older comments. But I am learning! Just like your series Bob, all about adapting!

  19. chris says

    Hi bob firstly a belated happy birthday to you ,you not that much younger than me ,but heaps more experience in living in the phills ,anyway when i was there (about ahundred years ago) i road a jeepney to a bus terminus and when we came back from penabo we road it back to i think near sm anyway the biggest thing that got me was the deisel fumes made my eyes sting like hell apart from that it was a great way to see parts of the city and cheap too i dont know how those traffic cops stand out there directing what a bummer of a job that would be and dangerous as well

    • says

      Hi Chris – I don’t know if I have just grown used to diesel fumes, or if the jeepneys are running cleaner now, but I have never felt bothered by the fumes when riding jeepneys.

      I wonder, why do you feel that the job of a traffic cop is dangerous? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of one being killed, or even injured.

  20. Maria redona says

    Hi Bob,
    Im from Davao City and happy to know that foreigner like you is enjoying what Davao can offer.

  21. says

    I finally rode my first Jeepney earlier this week, en route to the SM Cebu Mall after getting off the the ferry. (posted some video of it all) A fun experience, I just wish there had been some sort of sign (like a bus stop) at the ferry to know how/where/which Jeepney to catch for the Mall.

    As you mentioned, I walked about a half-mile until I asked a gas station which was a common stop for the Jeepneys and I was able to grab a ride the rest of the way to the mall. I’m glad there is no glass in the windows.. the breeze felt good! ha! A fun experience for longer distances but I still get such a kick out of riding the Trikes while in town.. kinda like a Disney ride. :)

    • says

      Hi Henry – I’m really glad to hear that you enjoyed riding the jeepney! Generally, you don’t have to go to a certain place, the jeepney will stop and pick you up anywhere along the route! We are starting to have a few aircon jeeps here in Davao, they have windows. I have never ridden one, though, and don’t even know what the fare is. I enjoy the more traditional ones, I guess!

  22. gemma says

    Hi Bob,
    This post made me homesick all of a sudden and I couldn’t remember the last time I felt this way! It has been 20 years since I left for NY.

    I was born and raised in Davao (Molave St., Juna Subdivision) and if I remember correctly, the fare at that time was less than piso. I used to take the jeepney with an adult from Matina near the Magnolia plant and across Lorings (is it still there btw?) to go to piano school ran by Mrs. Fernandez near Claveria. The pace of life was so slow back then that people pay when they are about to get off and the driver would come to a full stop to give you the change. It was different in Manila where you had to pay as soon as you sit down or during your ride as the drivers were always in a rush.

    I guess those days are long gone.

    • MindanaoBob says

      Hi gemma – Lorings is still there in the same place, but Magnolia is not. The old Magnolia building is now the Matina office of Davao City Water District. I live, actually, very close to where you used to live. :smile:

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