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The Ibong Adarna flies again—in London, thanks to artist Kulay Labitigan

By Patricia Avila
December 20, 2021

In London’s West End, Newly-established contemporary Filipino restaurant Kasa and Kin is one of Soho’s newest additions to its colorful roster of dining options favored by tourists and locals alike. 

However, despite being a brainchild of the masterminds behind Romulo Cafe and touting a menu that’s been developed with the help of a Michelin-starred chef, the star of the show is the restaurant’s decor, specifically the massive, vibrant mural of a fixture in Philippine folklore, the Ibong Adarna—thanks to London-based Filipino visual artist Kulay Labitigan.

The subject of the mural holds many meanings to Labitigan. “In Francisco Balagtas’ tale, the mythical bird was a healer of the ailing king, a reference to the many Filipino medical professionals who are in the UK’s health service,” he says, “The bird is also closely associated with nesting, which comes back to the meaning of Kasa & Kin being a home.”

Calling himself a “creative talesmith,” Labitigan’s works always tell the story of home. Baro’t sayas, baybayin characters, and references to his hometown of Tayabas feature in some of his more prominent works, but the mural at Kasa and Kin transcends that. “But what resonates to me more is the bird as an animal of flight and migration,” he adds. “These are powerful reflections for every Filipino and non-Filipino dining in the restaurant.”

[Basag na Banga, 2021 by Kulay Labitigan]

The 31-year-old artist, currently based in London to finish his MA in Narrative Environments at Central Saint Martins-University (an institution with a stellar reputation in the world of art and design) with the help of a scholarship grant, was born in Tayabas, Quezon, and finished his degree in Fine Arts in University of the Philippines Diliman, before he moved to the UK.

Kasa and Kin is located at 52-53 Poland St, London W1F 7NQ, United Kingdom. You may visit their website at to book a table.

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