What does Tabanka mean?

The story of Tabanka Divers El Nido


Let's open the history book for a little while. It's kind of fun.


Tabanka Divers were founded in August 2012 by local Divemaster Lestor Gripon aka 'Matar' and german journalist Oliver Bachmann. Both met 5 years earlier when diving in El Nido, became friends and had several passions in common - one of those was diving. After several years of studying life and the market it was time to nail it down: in August 2012 the two started “Tabanka Scuba Diving Inc” in Ogies Beach Pension. In the beginning more enjoying the diving lifestyle in Palawan, Philippines than being focused on the business of diving they had a great time and always happy divers around.


Things went well and the boys got more serious


Tabanka Divers over the years established their position in the local dive community as a professional PADI and SSI dive school with only high-end gear and a personal service. Nowadays Matar is still based in Ogies where he opened his own dive shop called “Nudie Divers” with the best and fasted boats in town. In 2017 Oliver and Tabanka Divers escaped the crowing infrastructure and scuba diving competition in downtown and moved 5 minutes out of town to El Nidos newest hotspot: Lugadia Beach. The most laidback spot with cosy boutique hotels, chilled sunset bars and simply good vibes.


So where does the name Taban(g)ka come from?


It's from the local dialect Cuyunon and in the first place describes a Jaw Fish. Ever seen one? These little fellows build kind of wells and watch outside all day, mostly with a extreme grumpy face. Pretty boring? Unless it's baby-time: the female puts the fertilised eggs, like hundreds of eggs, in the guys' mouth. It's called called mouth brooding...a kind of...”shut up, hold the kids, I go shopping”. For several days he does not eat but juggling the eggs in his mouth to aerate them. How would you look after that? Anyways, no choice, the poor fellow does his duty and protects the little Tabankas until they hatch and say bye bye. The last time we saw it was in December.


And here comes the funny part


The male has quiet a huge head compared to the rest of his body, like a polliwog and again looks pretty unhappy all the time. That's why locals here also call their crying babies Tabanka – or more exactly they say:


Stop being Tabanka. Smile again.