April 2 – Happy Birthday, Francisco Balagtas!

Posted on April 2, 2017

One of the Philippine's greatest poets and authors was born on this date in 1788.

He was named Francisco Balagtas y de la Cruz - because his dad's family name was Balagtas, and his mom's family name was de la Cruz.

However, in 1849, the Spanish general who served as Governor-General of the Philippine colony mandated that all Filipino people change their "native" family names and adopt one of the standard Spanish surnames. So Balagtas officially changed his name to Baltazar.

At that time, authors and writers - even Filipino ones - wrote in Spanish rather than in Tagalog (aka the Filipino language). But Balagtas wrote in Tagalog. That is why he is sometimes known as "Father of Tagalog Literature."

He has also been called the "Filipino Shakespeare."

Balagtas wrote poetry, plays, and short stories.

A school, a plaza, a park, a theater, and the town where he was born are all named after him - using his original name of Balagtas. Streets are named after some of the characters in his poems. Even the word for "debate in extemporaneous verse" is named after him!

Consider how important it is to a people to have educated, talented people writing and speaking in their own native language, rather than in whatever language the most powerful folks are...

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