ORION, Bataan – The municipal government here led by Mayor Antonio “Tonypep” Raymundo, Jr. is all set to unveil the statue of Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar in Barangay Wawa Pagasa of this town on March 30.
“This is a project of the Komisyon ng Wika Filipino wherein they will erect a statue of Balagtas and they will call it ‘Hardin ni Balagtas’ (Balagtas’ Garden),” Raymundo told newsmen in press briefing held at his office Tuesday morning.
Francisco Baltazar, who lived from 1788 to 1862, was the preeminent poet of the Tagalog dialect of the Philippine literature and author of the literary masterpiece “Florante at Laura.”
He also wrote countless poems, awits, komedyas and corridos. His literary achievements secured his place at the top of the pantheon of Tagalog poets. He was also called by his contemporaries as “Hari ng Makatang Tagalog” (King of Filipino Poets).
According to history books, Baltazar is otherwise known as Francisco Balagtas, his original name and had taken the name Balagtas from a Manila family whom he had served as a houseboy. He was affectionately called Kiko by his loved ones.
Raymundo, meanwhile, added that the place where the statue will be placed along the seashore of the said village was said to be the site where Baltazar wrote some of his masterpieces.
A history book in Orion stated that though a native of Bulacan province, Baltazar was believed to have received his inspiration to write his masterpieces in Bataan such as Mahomet at Constanza (1841), Almanzor y Rosalina, Orosman at Zafira, Don Nuño y Zelinda, La India Elegante y el Negrito Amante, Hatol Hari Kaya (a kundiman), Parangal sa Isang Binibining Ikakasal (a poem), Paalam sa Iyo (a song), Rodolfo at Rosamunda, Pagpupuri kay Isabel II, Reyna sa España, Auredata y Astrone, Nudo Gordiano, Abdol y Miserena, and Clara Belmori. He also wrote a grammatical treatise El Ensayo de Gramatica Hispano-Tagala.
Two years after his prison release in 1838, Baltazar moved to Balanga, Bataan and worked as an auxiliary or paralegal secretary of a residential judge. In 1841 he met a well-off mestiza Juana Tiambeng, a native of Orion (then called Udyong), Bataan.
It is said that Tiambeng financed the publication of his masterpiece at the Colegio de Santo Tomas press. Tiambeng married him in 1842 and they had 11 children.
Balagtas’ great granddaughter, Felicidad Ligaya Baltazar Guzman, now 97 years old, still lives in a posh house of her grandson in Barangay Sto.Domingo of this town.
Isagani De Leon, the municipal government’s human resource officer assisted the Bataan press in locating Lola Ligaya.
“Lolo ko ang isa sa mga anak ni lolo Balagtas. Paborito kong basahin ang Florante at Laura, para kang nagbabasa ng Bibliya,” Lola Ligaya told newsmen in a strong and articulate manner.
If alive, Balagtas will be celebrating his 227th birthday on April 2, 2015. A provincial resolution is reportedly being drafted to declare it as a special holiday.