It’s lunchtime on the Loboc River, an emerald green stretch of water that runs through the Philippine island province of Bohol, and I’m about to embark on a boat tour with a group of Japanese, Korean and Filipino tourists. We pass a sign asking us to deposit our guns at the tourist information gate and then amble aboard our floating restaurant. Over a buffet lunch of fruit, meat and cheese, we watch kids perform choreographed dance numbers on the riverbank and listen to the musical stylings of a pair of 12-year-old singers. The highlight comes when we reach a series of miniature waterfalls, where the sound of rushing river competes with the girls’ rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”

Tourism, Philippine-style, is slowly taking off. For years, the country has been overlooked in favor of its Southeast Asian neighbors, due largely to enduring security concerns and its crumbling infrastructure. Nearly…

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