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COLLANTES (1896-1951) Greatest Duplero Florentino Tansioco Collantes, the Makata ng Bayan was born in Dampol, Pulilan, Bulacan, on October 16, 1896 to Toribio Collantes of Baliwag and Manuela Tansioco of Pulilan. He obtained his early education at Dampol and at Plaridel, and graduated from the Bulacan Provincial High School in Malolos. He taught in the elementary grades for two years. Then, after taking up bookkeeping and stenography, he entered the government service. He first worked with the Bureau of Lands where he was given a number of provincial assignments that gave him opportunities to learn Pampango, Ilocano and bisayan. He began composing poems during childhood, but his greater inclination was in reading and memorizing corridos, awits and the pasion. At 15, he had committed the whole passion to memory and could quote many beautiful long selections from the most popular corridos and awits. To offset his lack of a college education, he avidly read English, American and specially Tagalog literature. He wrote prolifically in poetry and prose for Buntot Pagi, Pagkakaisa, and Watawat and edited Pakakak, Balagtas, Lintik and Ang Bansa. Because of his mastery of the corridos and awits and the passion, he was regarded as the greatest Duplero of his time. He met Jose Corazon de Jesus, another nationally noted Filipino poet, otherwise known as Baatute and the two became literary rivals in various political joust for the title Hari ng Balagtasan. The first balagtasan was held in Manila and from there it spread to other Tagalog provinces, reaching even the remotest barrios. In the course of the yearly national contests to determine the best in balagtasan, Collantes and De Jesus alternately had the privilege of holding the laurel. Each had his own style. Collantes verses were thought to be more profound and his arguments systematic and better organized. On the other hand, De Jesus excelled in sweetness of language and in beauty and exuberance of expression On July 4, 1950 in a nationwide celebration held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Collantes was adjudged Makata ng Bayan and Lope K. Santos Paham ng Wika. President Elpidio Quirino donated a gold laurel leaf while the Pambansang Buklod ng Wikang Pilipino gave a gold Pluma de Ave to both of them. Collantes also called Kuntil Butil had his own niche in Philippine letters; he belongs to pre-war and post-war literary movement in Tagalog. Tagalog poetry cannot be complete without mentioning him or his works, and his great powers of declamation. He not only popularized balagtasan but raised it to a level worthy of the best in intellectual entertainment. As a narrative poet, his most important work is Ang Lumang Simbahan (1931), a romantic mystery known to everyone, which he expanded into a novel and, after enjoying much circulation and popularity, transformed into a screenplay. It was one of the earliest movies in the Philippines which proved to be a great success. Ang Lumang Simbahan (The Old Church), is the story of a well-to-do young man and a poor girl, who promise to live for and love no one but each other. In order to escape the wrath of the young mans father, they dig a hole to serve as their common grave but instead they find gold in the hole so live happily ever after. This is indeed a portrayal of an ideal love. Collantes other novel of distinction was Baarasoain, a historical romance. Some of his greatly appreciated poems are: Ang Magsasaka, Pangarap sa Bagong Kasal, Mahalin ang Atin, Ang tulisan, Atsarat Balimbing and Ang Labingdalawang Kuba. Ang Magsasaka, is a pastoral on the dignity, industry , fortitude, nobility and truth of humanity of the farmers. The first stanza reads:

Kumita ka sa sinukob na magalang na magalang at ang mga magsasakay mahirap mong matularan, pag nagdaan sa harap moy nakayukot dahan-dahan kasabay ang pasintaabing pabulong halos kung turuan Pangarap sa Bagong Kasal was first composed on the occasion of a friends marriage. Copies of it were circulated around Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Rizal and Laguna and without the knowledge of the poet, were recited to newlyweds. This work was most appreciated for its humor and passages of wisdom, although not everything in it was acceptable as for instance when the author says: Hindi dapat na ang babae ay laging manibugho ah,kayo rin ang kawawa kung lumuha ng dugo salamat kung sa iyong minamahal na kasuyo ay may ibang nagmamahal ng taos sa kanyang puso, kung ikaw man halimbawa ay may isang ibong pugo di ka dapat na magalit kung ang ibay makahipo iyo ang ibong iyan lumipad man o lumayo sa iyo rin magbabalik, kung magwagi o mabigo. Mahalin ang Atin is poem Collantes delivered during NEPA programs all over Luzon and the Visayan islands. A very zealous believer and worker for national economic protectionism, he made mutual cooperation among Filipinos the theme of the poem. In Ang Tulisan, romance suspense, and mystery are ingenuously mixed. In fact, this poem is easy, as is the flow of the style. Atsarat Balimbing is the humorous story of a poor girl whose ambition is to be courted in the most romantic manner with pamamanhikan and other ceremonies and with solemn and colorful church wedding to top it all; but with her social level being too low for such things-- she is doomed to disappointment. However, the poems purpose is to entertain, not to preach. Ang Labingdalawang Kuba became very popular among children. It is very witty and full of hearty humor. On July 15, 1951, at the age of 55, Florentino Collantes died leaving Sixta Tansioco his wife and eight children namely Virgilio, Loreto, Gloria, Belen, Lydia, Pacita, Florentino Jr. and Jose. Tagalog literature lost a worthy exponent in his death. He left behind him a rich, literary legacy that will live long after his death. References: CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Arts. Manila : Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manuel, E. Arsenio, Dictionary of Philippine Biography. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1995. Quirino, Carlos. Whos Who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995. 1994.