Me and my Philippines: Singer Kat Alano

Decibelle's vocalist and songwriter talks about idyllic beaches in Palawan, the hottest music venue in Manila, and Filipino musicians she adores

Photos by Daniel Soriano

I want to go to Amanpulo in Palawan.

Palawan is beautiful. I’ve been to Coron. Being close to the sea and white sand is utopia.

San Vicente, Palawan is amazing because of Long Beach, a 14km stretch of virgin pink sand. When I was there, there were probably about three other people on the beach with me. It was great island-hopping from one white sand beach to another. I would recommend going there.

Capari Resort in San Vicente was really good. We stayed at my friend’s house but we were in and out of Capari. It’s a beautiful place right by the beach.

One of my favorite things is going up north to Ilocos Norte and La Union, and seeing all the old churches.

Seawind in Boracay is my favorite resort. I love the fact that you can walk out of your room and be right on the beach.

My friend owns a resort in Puerto Galera called Villa Halcyon and I love going there. They have a dock where I’d sit and listen to the sound of the ocean. It’s really relaxing.

I’m from Batangas City. Even though I grew up abroad, I speak Tagalog and my father has made sure I grew up knowing my roots. I actually wanted to quit school in Hong Kong and go to the University of Batangas.

I really like just to hang out with my friends, watch a movie or laze about by a pool somewhere.

Sometimes we go to Makati Shangri-La and hang out by the pool. I like to jog and box. Boxing’s such good cardio.

I like going to watch the shows of Kat Agarrado and Wally Gonzales. I like going to [progressive alternative music venue] B-Side as well. Smart Araneta is a great place to watch concerts. I think when you play there you pretty much made it.

I am a terrible packer. I cannot pack light, but I try really hard. I usually take my sunblock, a good book, my music and a lot of clothes. I have a Wanderlust bikini because it’s from my friend Maggie Wilson’s brand. I have a Nike bag that I carry with me all the time, and Havaianas slippers. For skincare, I use Neutrogena’s scrub, Jergen’s lotion. I like Hawaian Tropic sunblock and Maui Babe tanning lotion.

If I were to live my life all over again, I would still be me. I’m in the place where I really want to be.

My priority now is my singing and songwriting.
I’m always listening to a new artist, a new sound, what’s hot, the old stuff.

Our band is called Decibelle, a play of words, combining decibel, which is the unit in measuring sound, and belle, meaning beauty. Our music is sort of new jazz soul with a little bit of trip hop and funk mixed in there.

I love to listen to people with very unique voices like Maroon 5. Adam Levine has a very distinct voice. I like Beyonce, Ne-yo, Roisin Murphy; Lana Del Rey is beautiful; Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill. Usher, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Etta James, The Steeles, Elvis, Prince.

Kat Agarrado is amazing. I also love Up Dharma Down. I see some of my solo stuff has a little bit of their sound in it. I love Bamboo, Rico Blanco, [Fliptop artists] Enigma and Loonie. Enigma and Loonie have been good for hip hop in the Philippines.

I was kind of thrown into TV hosting in the Philippines. I won the competition for Studio 23 and I worked with them for about five years. I didn’t have any training at all.

About Kat Alano 

Kat Alano, who's half English and half Filipino, started her showbiz career in the Philippines as a video jock for Studio 23. Before coming to the Philippines, she was into theater in England, performing in William Shakespeare plays and West Side Story. In 2004, she won the Studio 23 VJ hunt, her first major break in hosting. These days, Alano is vocalist and songwriter for her band Decibelle.

In September, Alano launched a line of yoga mats under Diwata Universal with designs inspired by her drawings and paintings on wood, which she did in 2014, a very low point in her life. It was in that year when she came out to publicly announce that she was raped by a famous TV host. Instead of support and encouragement, she claimed that what she got instead was a backlash from the public and the industry. She lost her various jobs and had to rebuild her life. From that point on, Alano resorted to art. She also formed Empower, an organization aimed at helping people who have been sexually abused get their lives back on track. 

Follow Alano on Instagram @katalano

Interview by Monica De Leon

Originally published in InFlight Traveller  April-May 2013. Updated October 2015