Francisco Balagtas: The Shakespeare of the Philippines and His Literary Legacy

OV Digital Desk

Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Francisco Balagtas (2 April 1788 – 20 February 1862) commonly known as Francisco Balagtas and also as Francisco Baltasar, was a Filipino poet and litterateur of the Tagalog language during the Spanish rule of the Philippines. He is widely considered one of the greatest Filipino literary laureates for his impact on Filipino literature.

Life and Career

He was born on 2 April 1788, in Bigaa, Bulacan, in the Philippines. Balagtas was raised in a family of farmers and was largely self-taught, learning to read and write by studying books owned by his family and local priests. He began writing poetry in his teens and eventually gained a reputation as one of the best poets of his time.

Balagtas’ most significant work is “Florante at Laura,” an epic poem that tells the story of two lovers caught in the midst of political turmoil. The poem is considered a masterpiece of Filipino literature and has been translated into many languages. Balagtas’ other works include “Orosman at Zafira,” “La India Elegante,” and “Don Anastacio.” He was also a playwright and wrote several plays that were performed in local theaters.

Balagtas’ work was not without controversy, however. He was imprisoned in 1835 for sedition, allegedly for his involvement in a local uprising against the Spanish colonial government. While in prison, he continued to write poetry and even composed a poem dedicated to his jailer. Balagtas was released from prison in 1843, and he spent the rest of his life in relative obscurity, working as a farmer and continuing to write poetry.

He died on 20 February 1862, in Sampaloc, Manila. Today, Balagtas is considered one of the greatest Filipino writers of all time, and his work continues to be studied and celebrated by scholars and readers alike. He is often referred to as the “Prince of Tagalog Poets” and his legacy has had a lasting impact on the development of Filipino literature.

Award and Legacy

Francisco Balagtas’ legacy as a great Filipino poet and writer continues to be celebrated in the Philippines and beyond. His contributions to literature have had a significant impact on the development of Filipino identity and culture.

In addition to this, several educational institutions, parks, and other public spaces have been named after Balagtas in the Philippines, honoring his contributions to Filipino literature and culture. Balagtas’ epic poem “Florante at Laura” is still taught in schools across the Philippines, and it continues to be read and celebrated by scholars and readers alike. His influence can be seen in the works of many contemporary Filipino writers, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of Filipino poets and writers.

Overall, Francisco Balagtas’ contributions to Filipino literature and culture have had a lasting impact, and his legacy as a great poet and writer continues to be celebrated and remembered to this day. On 2 April 2018, Google celebrated Francisco Balagtas’ 230th Birthday with a doodle.