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The balagtasan is a debate in poetic verse. It was created during the American Colonization of the Philippines, inspired by old forms of Philippine verse debate like the karagatan, Juego de Prenda and the duplo. Its name comes from the original surname of Francisco Baltazar, Balagtas, having been created to honor his birth anniversary.


The first balagtasan was held on 6 April 1924. Three sets of poets participated using scripted defenses. The debate between José Corazón de Jesús and Florentino Collantes was particularly impressive and the organizers decided to set up another balagtasan for the two distinguished poets, this time requiring improvised defenses. This was held on 18 October 1925, at the Olympic Stadium in Manila. De Jesus won the title of the first Hari ng Balagtasan (King of Balagtasan). Since then, balagtasan became a popular pastime until after World War II. Poets in other languages of the Philippines created their own versions like the Ilocano bukanegan (named after Ilocano poet Pedro Bukaneg) and the Pampango crisotan (named after Pampango poet-dramatist Juan Crisostomo Soto).




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