April 2, 1788
|Died||February 20, 1862
|Alma mater||Colegio de San Jose|
|Notable work(s)||Florante at Laura|
Francisco Balagtas y de la Cruz (April 2, 1788 – February 20, 1862), also known as Francisco Baltazar, was a prominent Filipino poet, and is widely considered as one of the greatest Filipino literary laureate for his impact on Filipino literature. The famous epic, Florante at Laura, is regarded as his defining work.
The name "Baltazar", sometimes misconstrued as a pen name, was a legal surname Balagtas adopted after the 1849 edict of Governor-General Narciso Claveria y Zaldua, which mandated that the native population adopt standard Spanish surnames instead of native ones.
Francisco Balagtas was born on April 2, 1788 in Barrio Panginay, Bigaa, Bulacan as the youngest of the four children of Juan Balagtas, a blacksmith, and Juana de la Cruz. He studied in a parochial school in Bigaa and later in Manila. During his childhood years. Francisco later worked as houseboy in Tondo, Manila.
Awards and titles
The popular Filipino debate form Balagtasan is named after Balagtas.
Life as a poet
Balagtas learned to write poetry from José de la Cruz (Huseng Sisiw), one of the most famous poets of Tondo, in return of chicks. It was de la Cruz himself who personally challenged Balagtas to improve his writing. Balagtas swore he would overcome Huseng Sisiw as he would not ask anything in return as a poet. (source: Talambuhay ng mga Bayani, for Grade 6 textbook)
Balagtas' affections for MAR were challenged by the influential Mariano Capule. Capule won the battle for MAR when he used his wealth to get Balagtas imprisoned under the accusation that he ordered a servant girl's head be shaved. It was here that he wrote Florante at Laura—In fact, the events of this poem were meant to parallel his own situation.
Balagtas published Florante at Laura upon his release in 1838. He moved to Balanga, Bataan in 1840 where he served as the assistant to the Justice of peace and later, in 1856, as the Major Lieutenant. He was also appointed as the translator of the court. He married Juana Tiambeng on July 22, 1842 in a ceremony officiated by Fr. Cayetano Arellano, uncle of future Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano. They had eleven children but only four survived to adulthod.
He died on February 20, 1862 at the age of 73. Upon his deathbed, he asked a favor that none of his children become poets like him, who had suffered under his gift as well as under others. He even went as far as to tell them it would be better to cut their hands off than let them be writers.
An elementary school was erected in honor of Balagtas, the Francisco Balagtas Elementary School (FBES), located along Alvarez Street in Santa Cruz, Manila. There is also a plaza and park (Plaza Balagtas) erected in Pandacan, Manila while most of the streets were named after various Florante at Laura characters in honor of Francisco Balagtas. His birthplace, Bigaa, Bulacan, was renamed to Balagtas, Bulacan in honor of him.
- Orosmán at Zafira – a komedya (a Filipino theater form evolved from the Spanish comedia) in four parts
- Don Nuño at Selinda – a komedya in three parts
- Auredato at Astrome – a komedya in three parts
- Clara Belmore – a komedya in three parts
- Abdol at Misereanan – a komedya, staged in Abucay in 1857
- Bayaceto at Dorslica – a komedya in three parts, staged at Udyong on September 27, 1857
- Alamansor at Rosalinda – a komedya staged at Udyong during the town's feast
- La India elegante y el negrito amante – a short play in one part
- Nudo gordeano
- Rodolfo at Rosemonda
- Mahomet at Constanza
- Claus (translated into Tagalog from Latin)
- Florante at Laura, an awit (metrical narrative poem with dodecasyllabic quatrains [12 syllables per line, 4 lines per stanza]); Balagtas' masterpiece
- Francisco Balagtas at An Online Guide About the Philippine History
- Works by Francisco Balagtas at Project Gutenberg