At home in the bay of Tambobo

In the late 1980s, Emma Palallos, then in her twenties, arrived at Tambobo Bay situated at the southern tip of Negros Oriental province. This body of water, nestled between Barangays Bonbonon and Siit in the town of Siaton, had long been a favored destination for fishermen. They would anchor their boats along its shores after a week-long voyage or bring their vessels for necessary repairs.

Palallos had recently relocated as an evacuee from Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province. Upon her arrival, she joined a group of around 30 local fishers and residents, organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to plant mangroves along the Tambobo shoreline.

One day, a yacht sailed into the cove. Its owner, later identified as an American named Bruce, admired the surroundings and chose to dock his yacht there, eventually making it his home by the bay. Shortly after, another yacht arrived.

Palallos, now 52 years old, observed that these cruisers seemed to be communicating with one another, given the continuous influx of yachts.

News quickly spread about the breathtaking scenery in Tambobo Bay, attracting both locals and tourists who came to capture photos or feature this attraction in their video blogs.


Entrepreneurial Concept


SIGHTS of NEGROS ORIENTAL - BLOG - At home in the bay of Tambobo
SIGHTS of NEGROS ORIENTAL – BLOG – At home in the bay of Tambobo


Inspired by their mangrove planting efforts, recognized with a stewardship certificate from DENR in 2007, Emma and her husband Bernardo conceptualized a business venture. Seeking permission, they constructed a scenic view deck amidst the mangroves. This elevated spot not only provides a serene panorama of yachts dotting the bay but also offers visitors a warm cup of coffee, refreshing calamansi juice, light snacks, or simple meals.

“At first, catering to the culinary preferences of the western yacht owners posed a challenge because of their diverse tastes. I had to adapt and learn their specific meal preferences,” Emma shared. With the assistance of their three daughters, Emma adeptly prepares Western meals for yacht owners and other guests.

Melchor Anque, the chief of Bonbonon village, noted the varied nature of yacht owners. “Some days, you encounter very pleasant individuals, and on other days, not-so-easy-to-please ones,” he chuckled.


SIGHTS of NEGROS ORIENTAL - BLOG - At home in the bay of Tambobo
SIGHTS of NEGROS ORIENTAL – BLOG – At home in the bay of Tambobo


Tambobo Bay, now home to approximately 50 yachts from around the globe, has become a captivating spectacle. Picturesque images of boats set against a backdrop of mangroves have been featured in travel magazines, vlogs, and TV documentaries worldwide.

The yacht owners form a diverse group, as stated by Anque. “You encounter highly affable individuals on certain days, but there are also those who are a bit more challenging to deal with,” he remarked.

During his previous term as a village councilman over 12 years ago, Anque recalled the council’s attempt to levy a mooring tax on boats within the bay. However, this proposal was rejected by the municipality, citing that the boats were in municipal waters, not barangay waters.

Recently, Anque mentioned that he heard Siaton municipality had begun charging mooring fees. Due to Tambobo Bay’s location at Negros Island’s southernmost point, the Philippine Navy has established a detachment near the entrance to oversee vessels arriving and departing. Representatives from the Bureau of Customs or the Bureau of Immigration periodically visit the area to monitor the status of guests aboard the boats.

To focus on their view deck business and manage the yachts as hired caretakers, Bernardo eventually transitioned from being a fisherman. Some foreign boat owners, temporarily absent from the Philippines, entrusted their boats’ safety and upkeep to them.

“Currently, only around 10 yachts have their owners living aboard here,” Emma added.


Community Assistance


SIGHTS of NEGROS ORIENTAL - BLOG - At home in the bay of Tambobo
SIGHTS of NEGROS ORIENTAL – BLOG – At home in the bay of Tambobo


Diane Pool, a 71-year-old graphic artist, is among the yacht owners who opted to reside in Tambobo. She and her husband Bill, a forensic geologist, sailed into the cove two decades ago and instantly fell in love with the locale. They decided to prolong their stay, with Bill imparting boat-building and repair skills to the locals while Diane established a school for children to supplement their formal education.

Although Bill passed away in 2009 while vacationing in the United States, Diane returned to the Philippines to continue their shared dream in Tambobo Bay. Due to the suspension of formal classes amid the pandemic, Diane dedicated her time to the community’s children. She assisted them in honing their graphic design skills on the computer and improving their reading, writing, and other essential life abilities.

With the easing of quarantine measures, children and teenagers from the community now gather at a rented bamboo house, conveniently located near the naval outpost, to participate in the “Saturday Workshop.” Here, they have access to Diane’s three computers with wide screens.

After the workshops, Diane paddles back to her 35-foot Atkins sailboat, named “Pilar” after Ernest Hemingway’s novel character. Lovingly constructed by the Pools themselves starting in 1975 in California, Pilar boasts a two-cylinder engine, capable of running for an average of 24 hours on 102 liters of fuel, covering about 100 nautical miles at a speed of five knots (around 9 kilometers per hour). The boat features berths for four individuals, a bathroom, a kitchen with a sink, oven, and wood-fueled stove, a canning machine, and a water supply of 340 liters, sufficient for a month.


SIGHTS of NEGROS ORIENTAL - BLOG - At home in the bay of Tambobo
SIGHTS of NEGROS ORIENTAL – BLOG – At home in the bay of Tambobo


Diane has been undertaking repairs on Pilar herself, with assistance from local men in the village. It took the Pools nine years to launch Pilar in 1984, and since then, it has been their floating home for the past 36 years—almost two-thirds of Diane’s life, as she humorously noted. After seven more years of work, they set sail from San Francisco in 1991, exploring various islands worldwide.

Diane expressed her profound love for Tambobo, emphasizing the joyful sounds of fishermen preparing for their sea voyages, the lively banter, laughter, and camaraderie among them. She also finds solace in the refreshing sounds of children at play and the bustling activities of local women sweeping their yards with broomsticks.

“It’s the genuine humanity of this place that captivates me,” Diane remarked. “I aspire to shed my American ways and fully embrace the warm culture of the locals here.” Furthermore, the cobblestones on the Spanish-era pathway leading to the bay have been replaced by a concrete road, making the journey to Tambobo significantly more accessible than it was eight years ago.


My videos about the fishing port and the bay of Tambobo

TAMBOBO BAY in SIATON – Negros Oriental








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