According to KWF senior language researcher Roy Rene Cagalingan, the symbolic interment at Bataan’s Orion town would celebrate the life of the “Florante at Laura” author and highlight his works’ relevance today.
“We believe Baltazar truly deserves [to be]recognized as a national hero of our country,” Cagalingan said, adding that heroes need not always express their nationalism through armed struggles.
Orion was chosen for the interment because Baltazar died there, according to the researcher, who said soil from the cemetery behind the town’s San Miguel Church would serve as the writer’s remains.
KWF will bury the “remains” at the pedestal of Baltazar’s statue, which it had put up with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
Accounts saying that several of Baltazar’s relatives were buried in that cemetery had reinforced the assumption that the poet was also buried there, Cagalingan said.
Both the church’s records and the cemetery were destroyed during World War 2, he added.
The ceremony is part of the government’s commemoration of April 2 as Balagtas Day, as expressed in Proclamation 964, series of 1997.
Son of Bulacan
Born on April 2, 1788 in Bigaa town (now Balagtas), Bulacan province, Baltazar was the youngest of Juan Balagtas and Juana de la Cruz’s four children.
He learned to write poetry under the guidance of Tondo’s famous poet, Jose de la Cruz, whose pen name was “Huseng Sisiw.”
Unlike most Filipino writers of his time, who wrote in Spanish, Balagtas wrote his poems in Tagalog.
Many regard “Florante at Laura,” an epic romance about the titular Albanian duke and the princess he loves, as his definitive work. His other notable works include “Orosman at Zafira” and “La India Elegante y El Negrito Amante.”
Balagtas later moved to Bataan, married Juana Tiambeng in July 1842, and continued writing until his death on February 20, 1862.
More than 150 after his death, “Florante at Laura” continues to be discussed in schools and performed onstage, and the term “Balagtasan” still refers to debates in verse.