Honoring the Places We Lost in 2020

Honoring the Places We Lost in 2020

From Route 196 to Chocolate Kiss and more



It’s impossible to have predicted the grief that encapsulated 2020. It’s “the year of the empty seat,” and try as we might, it will not be forgotten, and with it, the places we loved, lost to the pandemic. Though the holidays may be a period for celebration (amid such harrowing circumstances), we’re remembering sacred spaces scattered around the metro, which have fostered one generation after another. 


RELATED: How Processing My Grief Helped Me Confront the New Reality


Route 196

In my early 20s, I discovered a small bar-cum-music hub along Katipunan Avenue. Even if I spent years as an undergraduate in the area, I never went, and I blame my introversion for it. Its 15-year legacy lives on beyond its August 23rd closure. It was in that crowd, listening to one local indie act after another, that I discovered—and embraced—the thrill of living outside of my comfort zone. Many acts have been given a start here, cultivating a devoted community who will forever remember Route 196 as a space safe for creatives and music enthusiasts alike.


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Chocolate Kiss 

Whether you’re an Isko/Iska or not, you may have encountered the 23-year-old restaurant and  café at the second floor of the Ang Bahay ng Alumni Building, UP Diliman. Chocolate Kiss, home to the scrumptious Devil’s Food Cake, has witnessed both beginnings and endings (I imagine to be very public proposals and, on the opposite spectrum, break-ups). Best of all, it was a welcome reprieve for students from all over Manila. Owner Ina Flores Pahati bid farewell to their loyal customers in a heartfelt letter. She writes, “I wait in anticipated breath for the best fruit to come out of this pruning. In the meantime, we will go back to our roots of baking cakes…and who knows where that sweet road may lead us.



You can still enjoy Chocolate Kiss’ best selling cakes and pastries by ordering online at 


Today x FUTURE

In another part of Quezon City is Cubao X, a breeding ground for intellectuals and creatives, (in my younger years, labeled as “hipsters”). Many of us tumblr kids grew up in this space—an eccentric, community-driven compound with an abundance of hole-in-the-walls, including Today x FUTURE. The charming bar, which relocated a block away in 2012, is known for its parties and events catering to the LGBTQIA+ community in Manila. They would have celebrated 12 years this year. Their sister bar in Poblacion, Makati called Futur:st remains open.



RELATED: Revisiting Cubao X After a Decade, the Original Hub for Creatives in Manila


Hole in the Wall 

Many of us discovered Scout’s Honor Craft Cookie and Bad Bird at Hole in the Wall, Century City Mall’s upscale food court inspired by “chef-driven food halls abroad.” After six years of operation, they announced their closure in November. This communal dining hall, a space I’ve celebrated many birthdays with family and friends, ushered in a new era for the food and beverage industry, with the rise of similar concepts within the metro. Their food hall in Powerplant Mall, The Grid Food Market, stays open for business.




RELATED: Do-It-Yourself Meal Kits From Your Favorite Restaurants in Manila


Regina Gift Shop

If you’re a regular visitor in San Juan’s go-to Greenhills Shopping Center, you may have encountered Regina Gift Shop. I pushed and shoved through hordes of Christmas shoppers a  year ago, while looking for last-minute presents. After four decades—before we were even introduced to Daiso and Japanese Home Center—the (always) crowded spot for affordable trinkets and toys is no more.



We are still grieving the loss of these safe spaces in the metro, where many of us have shared memories we wish not to forget. We hope that these goodbyes may only be temporary and let time bring forth new beginnings.



Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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