When we returned to Hong Kong after our thwarted visit to Shanghai, we started considering our options. We had commented that we hadn't had a beach vacation since Tahiti in 2005. Then we saw an ad in the Standard free newspaper for a roundtrip flight to Cebu for HK$900. I called the travel agent and the person I spoke with said that, indeed, that fare was available and that with tax and so on would total HK$1200 round trip. Even after paying extra for the seats we wanted, the kilos for our overweight luggage and for the other extras on this no-frills airline called Cebu Pacific, the round trip fares for the two of us totaled US$363.61. We decided that was most reasonable for a beach vacation in the Philippines.
We went to the Philippine Consulate (with our US passports) and were able to get 59-day visas for HK$510 for both (about US$66). That seemed quite reasonable too. Then we began looking into the places where we might visit after landing on Cebu Island in the Visayas. The easiest place to get to is Mactan Island very close to the Cebu Airport.
There is a Shangri-La on Mactan Island which is very expensive but got good reviews from the women I spoke with at CHAT, the Thursday morning group of the American Women's Association in HK. One of the women had stayed at the Hilton on Mactan Island and said that it was good (but the beach wasn't as good as the Shangri-La's.) We learned that the Hilton was having a "Two Days for the Price of One" special and that we could use American Express Rewards to stay at the Hilton. So we decided to go to Cebu and we bought a Lonely Planet guidebook for the Philippines.
Our neighbor, JoAnne, at the Bay Bridge serviced apartments, also had an Insight Guide for the Philippines which she gave us. Dimitri started reading guidebooks and our 2009 beach vacation was in the making!