Google features ‘Florante at Laura’ in tribute to Francisco Balagtas
Today’s colorful Google Doodle isn’t just any fairy tale: it’s a tribute to Francisco Balagtas and his epic poem “Florante at Laura”.
The search engine celebrated what would have been Balagtas’ 230th birthday in panels of vivid illustrations.
Google elaborated on the drawings: “In the first panel, we see Balagtas working on ‘Florante at Laura’. The story begins with a view on the main character, Duke Florante of Albania, who has just been exiled and tied to a tree. The third panel depicts his love, Princess Laura, being held captive. Next we meet Prince [Aladin] of Persia, himself exiled from his own country. In the fifth panel, [Aladin’s] fiancée Flerida searches for him in the forest before rescuing Laura. Finally, Laura and Florante are reunited and rule peacefully over Albania.”
Born in Manila in 1788, Balagtas’ literature stood out as he wrote in Tagalog during the Spanish colonial period. “Florante at Laura” paralleled the events of his life, particularly when he was imprisoned.
While the poem is romantic on the surface, interpretations of his work suggest that he used allegory to convey Filipinos’ suffering during the Spanish regime. At the time, the Spanish government and the Church had tight censorship measures on the literature that Filipinos could read.
A testament to the poet’s legacy is that his masterpiece continues to be taught in basic education and that debates in verse called balagtasan are still held. Literary awards such as the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas, presented by the Unyon ng Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL), is also named after him. JB
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