Cagbalete island, capturing fleeting pleasure, and the neuroscience of optimism

 Pleasure is early morning sunshine and good food and friends and hugs and kisses and booze and sea breeze and ocean waves on your feet (that is why eating breakfast with friends and sweetheart by the beach would make you go… “ah this is Life”). An article on neuroscience of optimism says that seeking pleasure in thought and actions every now and then may lead to a longer life, and this must be especially done in times of stress when the brain releases that thing they call cortisol, which actually damages the brain.

Our trip to Cagbalete was one of those stress-terminator trips, which boosted happy hormones, however fleeting the pleasure was.


The first time I heard of Cagbalete Island was three years ago. A blogger posted videos and photos of amazing sand bars in low tide somewhere in Quezon (a province four hours away south of Manila). I scribbled a mental note that I’ll explore it with friends someday, when I have the guts to camp in a faraway island that has no electricity and the comforts of modern living.

Last week, college friends and I went here to give ourselves a break. Gish who’s in law school has taken a job at the Department of Agrarian Reform; Kitchie just finished her masters (whew!); Kei and I have been busy with ten thousand things.

Going there was surprisingly a breeze–take an early morning bus in Cubao going to Mauban, Quezon (passing through Lucena); to reach the banca port, ride a tricycle, which you’ll find in front of you on your last stop in Mauban; boats going to Cagbalete leave twice a day only, and we took the 10am trip. The bus (Jacliner, to be specific) left Cubao before 5am. By 9am we’re already strolling downtown buying food and water supplies.

The 45-minute boat ride to the island pales in comparison to the 15-min boat trip revealing an underwater treasure of corals–from the Cagbalete “port” to the beach where we reserved the cabana that served as our home for our entire stay.

Later on, in this cottage, we would lose two wallets (mine and Giselle’s) and get stinging insect bites. Oh, and there’s the case of the missing bread (24 pieces of monay).

The three-day cottage camping was my first time to be set out in the wild with my friends, and the fast-approaching typhoon made the experience more special because of the fear of What Could Happen If We Get Stranded There.

Actually, the series of unfortunate events started when my bag fell into the water. My laptop and iPhone were in that bag, so when I saw it take a plunge from the arms of the boat man who offered to carry it for me, I immediately opened my bag to check the gadgets. Mike told me to remove the laptop’s battery, and it turned out to be a good first aid because despite the slightly moist surface (thanks to water proof cases), the gadgets still worked fine.

Kei, unfortunately, was not able to revive her wet cellphone, which she pocketed as we waded in the knee-deep water for about 10 minutes (the tide was so low that the boat could not go any nearer than what seemed to be a hundred meters).

Perhaps what was striking about our misadventures is that we took it with optimism–like, maybe the money we lost will return in double someday, or, it’s time to get a new wallet and a new phone, or, things in the wallet can be replaced anyway, and the adventures in the island can easily topple the bad memories.

But that doesn’t mean we shall forget to carry around our wallets (even when swimming!) and insect repellants next time. That doesn’t also mean that we will forgive the resort Villa Cleofas or the local tourism team who didn’t warn us that cases of theft in that very beach resort have already been reported. Of course, we are also to be blamed because we trusted everyone in the island so much that we didn’t suspect anyone would break in to our cottage and get our wallets like it’s their property that they worked hard for.

Anyways, as of this writing, I’ve already bought a new wallet (a better one), claimed my new ATM card and happy pay day is coming in two weeks! Hurrah! Again, I had to defensively note these because we (most human beings, that is) are wired to survive devastating moments by looking at the bright side of things to survive a thousand and one possible causes of anxieties that haunt us every human day.

Digression. Another article I read somewhere says that if you grew up in a happy environment, around people with happy disposition, you’ll be neuro-wired to have less anxieties when you grow up, that is, you can switch on your optimism button, but that doesn’t mean adults with traumatic childhood could not be optimistic, too. Here is when we can see the power of the mind to overcome tight situations. Pleasure, here, would come from the feeling of being in control of the situation when everything seems to be out of control. Or else, people can just go wasting their time lamenting over the imperfections of the world, letting fleeting pleasures pass by unnoticed.


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hana banana
12 years ago

that war zone of corals is awesome! the pictures are clear, what camera do you use on these? ^_^

12 years ago
Reply to  hana banana

Thanks, hana banana! THese photos were taken with an iPhone. 🙂 neat, right?

11 years ago

you guys can pass off as survivor contestants, awesome!

PS: for sure si ana marcial ang unang matatanggal.

11 years ago
Reply to  anditfeelslike

hahaha susumbong kita!

11 years ago
Reply to  anditfeelslike

Ang yabang ng Miguelito. tsk. tsk.

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