Staking a claim on isolated Pagasa Island for the Philippine government, inhabitants eventually 'go crazy.'Philippine air force personnel unload supplies for inhabitants of isolated Pagasa Island in the South China Sea.The happiest day on Pagasa is when the boat comes to take you off, says one former resident. (Jim Gomez / Associated Press)
Reporting from Puerto Princesa, Philippines - Roel Robles had been on Pagasa Island for less than a week when he found himself wondering, with something like despair: Is it possible for one white-beached, palm-studded place to be both heaven and hell, paradise and prison?
"When you first get there, you see this little island resort," said the 30-year-old sergeant in the Philippine National Police. "Then after about five days, something snaps. You begin telling yourself, 'I have to get out of here -- now, today.' "
Pagasa plays tricks with your mind.
Its few dozen inhabitants can walk around the pint-sized perimeter in 30 minutes. From its highest point, nine feet above sea level, they gaze out at turquoise seas all around.
It's a stunning view. But it's the same view, day after day.
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