Today, April 2, marks the 231st birthday of Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar a.k.a. “Prinsipe ng Makatang Tagalog.” He is also labelled as the William Shakespeare of the Philippines.
Balagtas was born in Panginay, Bigaa (now Balagtas), Bulacan in 1788. KAMI learned that the Manila Local Government and Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino led a ceremony in Pandacan, Manila, to commemorate the birth anniversary of Balagtas.
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In an article by the CulturEd Philippines, Balagtas fell in love with Maria Asuncion Rivera or Celia, when he moved to Pandacan. However, he had a rival named Mariano “Nanong” Kapule.
Due to their rivalry in winning Celia's heart, Nanong sent Balagtas to prison. While he was detained, he started writing his famous epic poem, “Florante at Laura.” His works were inspired by another Filipino poet, Jose de la Cruz or “Huseng Sisiw.”
When he was set free, Balagtas moved to Bataan and met Juana Tiambeng. In 1842, they got married and then had 11 children, but only four survived to adulthood.
However, Balagtas was sent to prison again for allegedly cutting the hair of a maid named Alferez Lucas, and then he was set free in 1861.
Due to pneumonia and old age, Balagtas died on February 20, 1862.
Until today, many schools are teaching Balagtas’ work. Due to his huge contribution to the Filipino literature, the “Balagtasan” was born.
The first-ever Balagtasan happened in Manila on April 6, 1924. It was joined by Jose Corazon de Jesus and Florentino Collantes, as reported by the Inquirer.
The Palace has declared April 2 as a special non-working day in Bulacan, under the Proclamation No. 701 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
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