Chances are, you’ve taken up Florante at Laura in Filipino class, and your teacher required you and your classmates to put on a play. Whether you consider that a fun high school memory or one of those requirements you just wanted to get over with, it’s undeniable that Francisco Balagtas’s epic romance is one of the most important and enduring works of Filipino literature.
Today, Google Philippines is celebrating the Francisco Balagtas' 230th birthday with a doodle that pays tribute to his most popular work. The first panel features Balagtas himself, while the second depicts the opening scene in which Florante, the lead character, has been exiled from his kingdom and tied to a tree. The third panel shows his paramour, Princess Laura, who has been captured by his jealous rival Adolfo.
The next two panels feature Prince Aladdin of Persia—a fellow exile who comes to Florante’s aid—and his badass fiancée Flerida, who rescued Laura while searching for Aladdin. The last panel shows Florante and Laura ruling as king and queen of Albania.
The epic is inspired by Balagtas’s own experiences of being thrown into jail by Mariano Capule, his rival for his muse María Asunción Rivera’s affections. Balagtas penned Florante at Laura while in prison, and dedicated it to Rivera.
Google explains that Balagtas “earned acclaim for writing in Tagalog (most writings at the time were in Spanish) and including Filipino themes, even though the characters were not from the Philippines.”