The metrical romance Florante at Laura by Francisco Baltazar (1788-1862) is a unique case in the history of Philippine literature and publishing. It holds the distinction of being the only poem published in the country that has not gone out of print since its first publication, that has been translated into various local and foreign languages, and that continues to be read to this day. Baltazar, popularly known as Balagtas, has been hailed as the greatest of Tagalog poets and his Florante at Laura acclaimed as a masterpiece.
But beyond literary merit, what has ensured the survival of both poet and poem through the years is the great historical, social, and cultural value they have been granted. The poem was written while Balagtas was serving time in a Manila prison, beginning around 1835 or 1836, and published in 1838 after his release. It comprises 399 monorhyming dodecasyllabic quatrains in Tagalog, and its original full title is “Pinagdaanang Buhay ni Florante at ni Laura sa kahariang Albania, kinuha sa madlang "cuadro historico" o pinturang nagsasabi sa mga nangyayari nang unang panahon sa imperio ng Grecia at tinula ng isang matuwain sa bersong Tagalog” (The History of Florante and Laura in the Kingdom of Albania, based on various "historical”.
The setting was in the 19th century. Balagtas’ story was a poem of 12 stanzas. This Filipino classic is studied by highschool students in their sophomore year. It is a favorite material for dramatic plays as the story told of war and love. Above all, ”Florante at Laura” is woven by Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar with his secret agenda of instilling awareness among the Filipino natives of the treacherous administration by the Spaniards during the colonial times.
Florante is alone and weary, in a deep dark forest, tied to a tree waiting to be eaten by ravenous wild beasts…
Florante was the son of Duke Briseo of Albanya and Princess Floresca of Krotona. At a...