Last February 20, 2012, our country celebrated the 150th death anniversary of the Father of Modern Tagalog Poetry, Francisco "Balagtas" Baltazar. He was born on April 2, 1788 in Balagtas, Bulacan. The place was first called Panginay, Bigaa and was changed to Balagtas. He was the youngest son of Juan Balagtas and Juana de la Cruz. He attended a parochial school in Bigaa. When he was 11, he went to Manila to work as a house helper for Doña Trinidad, his aunt. He continued his studies at Colegio de San Juan de Letran with the help of his aunt. When he was in college, he started to write love letters to his friends and classmates. He is fond of writing awits, corridos, and moro-moros. Balagtas met Maria Asuncion Rivera in 1935. He fell in love with her. Due to false accusations of a rival suitor, he was brought to prison. While in prison, he started to write Florante at Laura. His writing was inspired by a lady named Celia. The book was published in 1838 after the writer was released from prison.
Balagtas moved to Bataan in 1840. He worked as Assistant Judge, Teniente Mayor, and Juez de Comentera in Orion, Bataan where he met Juana Tiambeng. Balagtas decided to marry Juana in 1842. The couple was blessed with 11 children but 7 of them died. When the Spaniards implemented the adoption of Spanish surname among Filipinos, Balagtas was changed to Baltazar. In February 20, 1862, Baltazar died at 74. The commemoration of the death of Baltazar reminds all Filipinos of his masterpiece, Florante at Laura which became part of Filipino heritage.