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Monday, July 27, 2009

In a nation where half the 90 million residents endure grinding poverty, Pagasa volunteers get free food and housing and guaranteed work. But there's also guaranteed boredom. Many who inhabit Pagasa consider the calendar their worst enemy. Others mark off time on the wall like stir-crazy convicts.

With a main port named Loneliness Bay, the island can take such a psychological toll that one inhabitant stabbed himself just to escape it. Another hanged himself two days after he arrived.

"The happiest day on Pagasa is when the boat comes to take you off," said Robles, who after three months on the island last year has returned home here, only to dread his next Pagasa assignment. "Next is seeing the plane arrive with supplies. The sound of those engines means cigarettes and alcohol."
Life on Pagasa Island, a 75-acre island the Phillippine government keeps occupied with miserable volunteer colonists in an effort to bolster its claim of ownership of the Spratly archipelago. Via Boing Boing.