As I mentioned in my email
, I think you ought to stay south. Cebu is a nice city as someone else mentioned, though just last month it experienced a major typhoon (December!). Remember if you make a SCS crossing north of about 12 deg. and hit the sh*t, you will have no choice but to face the Vietnamese coast as one giant lee shore. Alternately, you could keep a close eye on the weather
departing Manila, scoot south between Spratlys and Palawan, coast hop Borneo and then head
northwest to Gulf of Thailand
Just a thought.