Fast-break to the Philippines

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Guam is a paradise destination. And we get to live here. Still, there are days when, from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning, you feel late for life already. That’s when you need a break. But where do you go when you already live in paradise?

To the Philippines, of course!

It’s a paradise of its own — 7,107 paradises, actually. The Philippines is one of the largest island groups in the world, and like everything else, paradise is more fun in the Philippines—and a lot cheaper at that.

High-flying, no-frills carrier Cebu Pacific finally landed on Guam earlier this year after a brief delay. Suddenly, rival airlines faced fierce competition on the prized Guam-Manila route from the airline budget champ. For years, Philippine Airlines and United enjoyed exclusivity – and high fares – on the valuable route, but within a week of Cebu Pacific’s arrival, airfares to Manila plunged by as much as 25 percent.

But a trip to the Philippines is not just about cheap fares and Guam travelers getting more for our money there. First-time visitors are mind-blown to discover, everywhere they go, a stellar standard of customer service and hospitality usually reserved for higher-end, luxury travel experiences.

Just when you think people of the Philippines couldn’t get any friendlier, they exceed your expectations. Filipinos are the kindest and friendliest people, extremely welcoming, curious and sharing. They practice a degree of respectful behavior unmatched anywhere.

And that’s just the start.

If long stretches of isolated beaches are your thing, it’s not hard to find your own personal dream beach or a pristine, lonely island that you can have all for yourself. Backpackers and luxury travelers routinely rank the Philippines’ postcard-perfect beaches at the top of their “World’s Best” lists.

After arriving to Manila, beach bums should beeline straight to Palawan — a long, narrow island province known for breathtaking crystal clear blue waters, secret lagoons and fringed by small island gems.

Palawan boasts one of the world’s most stunning seascapes and diverse aquatic wildlife. It is home to one of the world’s seven wonders, too — the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. The nearly 5-mile long underground river and cave is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

The park is about a two-hour drive from the dusty seaside capital of Puerto Princesa. Spectacular limestone karst landscapes, clear green waters and old growth forests filled with charming macaque monkeys, monitor lizards and other wildlife.

Gliding silently into the cave system by canoe, visitors are entertained by tour guides and an audio narrative via headphones.

Despite the jaw-dropping wonder of the adventure, visitors are amusingly cautioned not to gaze head up at the towering cave with mouth agape to avoid catching any debris dropping from the thousands of bats that make the cavernous hollows their home.

Bats are in abundance. So are mosquitos and nik-niks (gnats). Don’t forget the Off! mosquito repellent.

The nearby Sheridan Beach Resort is the Philippines’ first green resort and the perfect launch pad for the underground river tour. Snuggled among lush mountainous jungles, and right on the beach with amazing views, day and night, make this resort the idea choice for a weekend of restorative idyllic idle.

Beach bums don’t have all the fun though.

Big-city thrill-seekers landing in Manila will find paradise, too. Guam travelers out for a weekend getaway will find themselves at the epicenter of a sprawling metropolis of 30 million. At the heart of it all is the massive city-within-a-city, Resorts World Manila.

Located right cross the street from the Ninoy Aquino Airport’s new international Terminal 3, getting to Manila’s first mega-casino complex couldn’t be easier.

The massive enterprise showcases a luxurious mall, a bevy of stylish hotel brands, theaters and venues offering world-class performances, spectacular shows and events.

A favorite for visitors and local families are the Resort World Manila cinema screens. Watching a movie here in one of the ultra-comfy reclining chairs will tempt you to sleep. But if you do that, not only will you miss the movie, but you won’t be able to enjoy the unlimited popcorn and drink refills.

In addition to exciting casino tournaments and other fun activities, there is the food.

Chinese Executive Chef David Chu Wai Fung is a foodie’s god. Chu reinvents Cantonese cuisine at Resorts World Manila’s fine dining restaurant Passion, located in their sexy, new all-suites Maxim’s Hotel.

Chu indulges gourmands with exquisite dishes and subtle culinary opulence that pampers the palate, as much as it feasts the eyes.

Suffice it to say, there are only a few weekends left before school starts. Now is the time to treat yourself to a fast-break to the Philippines before the hectic pace that can make even life in paradise feel like a perpetual rush picks up again.

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