Florante at Laura: Subversive?

Was the epic Florante at Laura a subversive statement by Balagtas against the Spanish government in the Philippines?

Florante at Laura helped strengthen the concept of "nationhood" in the minds of the Filipinos. In Mexican Footprints, Jaime B. Veneracion writes:

Francisco Baltazar referred to the lost kingdom as "ang bayan kong sawi," roughly, "my unfortunate bayan," a bayan exploited by pretenders and colonizers and which should be defended by Christian and Moro brothers-in-arms. And used here, "bayan" already presaged the concept of a nation, a construct presupposing the existence of other nations. The knowledge that there already existed certain places such as Albania made it valid for one to have a "bayan" of one's own.

From a Google cached copy of a missing Philippine Embassy culture and arts page:

This poem inspired a generation of young Filipino writers of the new educated class, or ilustrados, who used their literary talents to call for political and social reform under the colonial system. These writers, most notably José Rizal, produced a small but high-quality body of Philippine literature in Spanish. Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), published in 1886, and its sequel, El Filibusterismo (The Subversive), published in 1891, helped to shape a new, nationalist identity during the last years of the 19th century.

Here's a quick summary of Florante at Laura.

[ First posted on 02/11/2006 by Manuel Viloria ]



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