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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Francisco Balagtas

Francisco Balagtas
Prince of Tagalog Poets
Francisco Balagtas was born in Panginay, Bigaa (now Balagtas), Bulacan on April 2, 1788.  He was  the youngest child of Juan Balagtas and Juana dela Cruz.

He was married to Juana Tiambeng of Orion, Bataan in 1842,  by whom he had seven children. He was also called Francisco Baltazar or Kikong Balagtas.

He earned his early education at his town's parochial school, poverty forced his parents to send him to Tondo at the age of 11 to be employed as a houseboy to earn money for his studies.  At the age of 24, he enrolled at Colegio de San Jose, he studied under the tutelage of Father Mariano Pilapil, a famous author of religious books in the vernacular.  There, he studies church law, humanities, philosophy and theology, after which he went for further education at Colegio de San Juan de Letran.

In 1835, he moved to Pandacan where he started his career as a poet.  As a young man, he met and fell in love with Maria Asuncion Rivera, also known as "Selya" a love which brought trouble in his life.  He was put to prison by one of Selya's suitors who belong to a rich family.  It was during this period of his imprisonment that he wrote, "Florante at Laura"  a masterpiece that depicts the evils that beset the Filipinos during the Spanish regime.

Although the setting of the epic poem is in Albania, the heroes and heroines stood for his countrymen and the conditions described were the very ones existing in the Philippines. 

The book contains passages on upright living and lesson on justice, love, respect for elders, industry, discipline and patriotism. It upholds moral and social values.  It is considered one of the best poems and the basic foundation of Philippine literature.

Balagtas published Florante at Laura upon his release in prison in 1838. He moved to Bataan and his life was devoted to public service, having been appointed Justice of the Peace and later as Teniente Mayor and Juez de Mayor of Orion, Bataan while continuing to write poetry and translating Spanish documents.

He died in Orion, Bataan on February 20, 1862 at the age of 73. 
Francisco Balagtas was named the "Prince of Tagalog Poets."



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