Balagtas was born in Tondo, Manila on December 14, 1947. He finished Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas in 1975. He was active in art competitions as a student and was constantly placed in the finalists.
He was personally handpicked by Vicente Manansala to assist him in finishing a mural commissioned by United Coconut Planter’s Bank. Balagtas is also the president of the Philippine Association of Figure Artists.
His works are classified as cubist, in which he recreates human figures in various activities, using vivid colors. Common themes include Mother and Child, vendor.