Karylle in Katipunan

I’ve never really been one to attend concerts. I always found them a bit too loud and claustrophobic for my liking. That’s why I was quietly relieved to find out that it was in Abu Dhabi where Karylle was going to perform for #RockThatLove alongside her husband’s band SpongeCola and other Filipino acts on the 13th of February, and her more recent and closer performance was going to be a gig (no tickets, no lines and no obligatory dancing) in Route196, a bar in Quezon City or QC, a slang term my Inglesero spirit has quickly adopted.

Few short days later, I found myself with my mom and my sister (check out her shop @ubehalaiya on Instagram!) in the car driving around Bonifacio at 7:35pm driving to Route196 Bar, a very homey bar owned by Itchyworms frontman Jugs Jugueta aka @jugsjugsjugs.

Upon a few steps from the big wooden Route196 entrance door, my Ate and I quickly heard the voice. The voice singing on a microphone singing the chorus of Found My Smile Again, which I thought was Kulang but then again I backtracked my thoughts; why would she sing Kulang in English?


You know when you finally meet that one famous person you’ve always wanted to meet ever? Rihanna? Steven Hawking? Michael Jordan? George Orwell? Well, Karylle fits that space in my heart.

And not to sound like a creepy fan, but it took me seconds to realise that was actually Karylle herself onstage. I had to knock it off my head a few times that I wasn’t watching a YouTube video, an It’s Showtime episode or anything like that. Thank God for the traffic, for my first ever encounter with Karylle was during an activity that she does best: performing.


It really didn’t feel so new for me watching Karylle perform her now familiar songs like Found My Smile Again and my personal favourite OMG, but it did catch me off guard when she started the setlist with Desert Drama (I thought for a split second it was Subic). I felt so lucky because it was not only my first time watching her perform live, but it also sounded like the first time the arrangements of the songs have been altered to be a bit sultrier and fitting for the Route196 feel.

The bar itself was a pleasant surprise. I’ve only been to one bar in King’s Road before, with London saturated by English pubs, and to be in something homegrown was different. It’s a Filipino bar that loves music, evident in the random Beatles photo on the stage wall. I was expecting something much less intimate and intimidating like in those 1980s Filipino action movies, but the grotto-like and cosy feel was enough to give them five thumbs up!


Pork sisig! I’m in abundance of good Filipino food everywhere.

On a more fanboy note, there was something about Karylle’s aura that was disarming. The myth of her celebrity status quickly faded and she morphed into this beautiful woman who just loved to sing and was very much game to say something nice for my blog. Thank you so much!

That was me snapping the best thing in the world! If you want to check out my blog post on that album, click on this link right now! Happy roadtripping!

Thanks to my Mom who came and calmed me down before, during and after the gig, my Ate Aiya for driving us there and being the best sport ever and to the parking attendant guy for helping us find a parking spot in midst of the excitement and all the cars everywhere that came before us. 

Web Map:

Karylle Tatlonghari-Yuzon 

Twitter – @anakarylle

Instagram – @anakarylle

Yahoo! blog – Write Away

iTunes – Karylle

Route196 –

Facebook – Route 196

Twitter – @route196rocks

Instagram – @route196rocks

– Troy

Published by troycabida

Troy Cabida (he/him) is a Filipino poet and producer based in south west London. His recent poems have appeared in TAYO Literary Magazine, harana poetry, MacMillan and bath magg. He is a producer for London open mic night Poetry and Shaah and co-founder of Liwayway Kolektibo, an arts and culture network providing space for UK-based Filipino/a/x creatives. His debut pamphlet, War Dove, was published by Bad Betty Press in 2020. Photo taken by Ray Roberts.

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