From Portland, Oregon, to the Philippines, Talilo Marfil — known simply as “Talilo” — reps his roots, and he reps them hard. The self-proclaimed “Filipino Typhoon” has emerged as a force worthy of the name in Portland’s hip-hop scene and as a change agent to make the city more vibrant. He accomplishes the latter through Ascending Flow, the nonprofit he co-founded with his fiancée, Thy Tran, to support youth aging out of foster care through the arts. Known for his quick style of rap that dazzles listeners as he tight-ropes across cadences blending street wisdom, world history, raw vulnerability and inspiring lyrics with masterful precision, Talilo stands out as one of the Pacific Northwest’s elite rappers.
His 2022 single “Big Flip,” which went viral on TikTok immediately after being uploaded to the platform, sees the rapper enjoying new success. The horn-driven, trap-inspired banger is a stadium-ready, chest-thumping anthem to Filipino art, food, culture, dance, beauty and struggle. Featuring fellow Rose City “Flips” (a slang term for Filipino) Taryn, Swiggle Mandela and Jay R Tha Barber, the track’s cinematic shots bring each emcee’s verse to life. Viewers can spot Portland staples like the historic Clinton Street Theatre and Magna Kusina, a Filipino restaurant named The Restaurant of the Year by The Oregonian.
A Musician Dedicated to the Community
As the song nets him new fans across the world and bolsters his profile among industry heavyweights, Talilo Marfil has no plans on stopping his representation of his city nor his islands. “Knott St.,” another dizzying banger, is titled after the award-winning North Portland Knott Street Boxing Club where he sometimes coaches. Another hit, “122nd,” a heart-wrenching ballad to the very street Ascending Flow is located on, makes it clear Talilo’s heart is with Portland.
“I love this city because there’s so much to do. It’s easy to breathe out here. There’s a lot of places to hike. If I want to get grimy with it, I know where to go to feel that because I love being in the urban jungle sometimes,” he said. “I feel like if I grew up somewhere else and spent the majority of my life there, I wouldn’t be the artist I am today.”
Talilo’s Favorite Portland Spots
Read on to explore Portland through the eyes of rapper and community advocate, Talilo Marfil.
“If you ain’t from the city, you gotta pull up to Rocky Butte,” Talilo says. He admittedly has a bias towards it — it’s where he met his fiancée. But to him, there’s more than romantic nostalgia. “It’s the views, it’s a vibe,” he says. Rocky Butte, the site of an extinct volcano, features a winding gothic brick staircase that leads up to a panoramic view of the city, Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood. And while he can’t guarantee you’ll find love there like he did, Talilo says you’ll definitely leave with a greater appreciation for the city after a visit.
Studio One Theaters
Letting his inner romantic out, Talilo flags Studio One Theaters, located in Southeast Portland, as one of his favorites for date nights. The multiplex theater, restaurant and live music venue has an assortment of late-night offerings. “That’s where you watch a movie, and you get yourself some wine; you gotta get the crème brûlée, some teriyaki chicken,” Talilo recommends. One tip to enhance your experience? “Get the bed in the back,” he says. “There’s a bed in the front, but you can’t see the [screen] that well. You gotta get the bed in the back or the middle, and it’s proper.”
“It’s the homies’ spot, but also it’s a family vibe. You really get the full Filipino experience there, it’s really good food, plus you get the family culture.” His favorite dishes at Magna Kusina include sisig, a crispy chopped pork plate topped with an egg, and lumpia, meat eggrolls served with spiced vinegar. Fun fact: owner-chef Carlo Lamagna makes a cameo at the 3:01 mark in “Big Flip.”
Arcade games and alcohol — what more do you need to know? While it’s open to all ages during the day, Ground Kontrol is limited to patrons 21+ after 5 p.m. There are 100 arcade games to choose from, including old-school favorites like Mario Kart, NBA Jam and Baby Pac-Man. You can also try your hand at pinball tables based on The Addams Family, The Simpsons (created by native Portlander Matt Groening), The Walking Dead and more. If you’re lucky, you can challenge Talilo to a dance-off: “You can get turnt up off some mixed drinks. Do the Dance Dance Revolution after three of them, and you’re good!”
Koi Gardens Vietnamese Cuisine
Northeast Portland’s Parkrose area isn’t as known for its food as some of other neighborhoods, but don’t let that fool you. “I’m really picky about pho because I’ve had pho so much since I met Thy. So I’m really particular about the quality of the broth, and Koi Gardens got it right. They’re number one in my book.”
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