(1844 - 1927)



  Justice Florentino Torres worked in the government for 49 years and spent 44 years in the judicial branch of the three successive forms of government established in the Philippines.


  He was born to a poor family in Sta. Cruz, Manila on October 16,1844. His father died in a ship mishap when Florentino was still very young. His mother, Luciana Santos- Torres died during the cholera epidemic of 1882.


  His uncle Fr. Mariano Torres helped him finish his studies.


  He obtained his Bachelor of Philosophy from the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. From the University of Santo Tomas he received his Bachelor of Canon Law and Bachelor of Civil Law in 1866 and 1868, respectively. His professor at the U.S.T., Dr.Joaquin Pardo de Tavera, found in him “a brilliant and liberal mind ready to assimilate progressive ideas.” He was admitted to the bar in 1871, and was promptly appointed prosecuting fiscal of the Court of First Instance in the district of Binondo, Manila. From 1873 to 1879, he was fiscal of the same judicial district and concurrently secretary of the Relator de La Audencia de Manila. He was also named fiscal of Matanza province in Cuba but he declined to accept the position owing to the great distance and hug expenses he would have incurred. In 1888, he was appointed judge of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur and two years after, he was transferred to the Court of First Instance of Pampanga.


  In 1892, he served as Teniente Fiscal de la Audiencia Territorial de Cebu and later as Magistrado, Audiencia de la Criminal of same province.


  Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the First Philippine Republic designated Florentino Torres, Gen. Ambrosio Flores and Lt. Col. Manuel Arguelles to meet with the American authorities headed by Brigadier -General R.P. Hughes, Col. James F. Smith and Lt. E.H. Crowder for possible adjustment of the political interests of both parties.However, the commission did not achieve any tangible results although Torres did his best to influence the Malolos Government from further making hostile acts against the occupation forces.


  Believing that Philippine Independence could not be won by force of arms against the American forces, he joined the league of peace called pacificacos. He presided over a meeting of its members in the hinterlands of northern Luzon on December 23, 1900. Their new party called Partido Federal, aimed at the annexation of the Philippines as a state of the Federal Union. Trinidad Pardo H. de Tavera was elected president while he was named a member of the party directorate. The people’s strong sentiments for immediate independence soon made their party moribund. They changed its name to Partido Nacional Progresista and batted for outright independence.


  His sympathy with the American civil government was readily rewarded with his appointment as Attorney – General, the first Filipino to occupy such position. He and Chief Justice Arellano, together with three American army officers, composed the board responsible for the reorganization of the municipalities in the Philippines in early 1900. With the reorganization of the Philippine Supreme Court, he was made Associate Justice on June 15, 1901 by Governor - General Elwell Otis.


  He never allowed himself to be swayed by deep - seated prejudices and maintained to the highest degree the independence of the judiciary, thus contributing the prestige and popular respect enjoyed by the courts today.


  Believing he was bypassed upon the appointment of Justice Victorino Mapa as Chief Justice to succeed Arellano, he tendered his resignation to Governor - General Francis Burton Harrison on April 22, 1920. 


  Don Epifanio de los Santos, foremost Filipino scholar of this time once said of Justice Torres: “Justice Torres had a character of a great man. His life was dedicated to continuous hard work and extreme sacrifice, foregoing relaxation even as it was absolutely demanded by his health he had one purpose, to serve his country and people like that of Dr. Rizal.”


  Together with Chief Justice Victorino Mapa and Manuel Araullo, Florentino Torres was awarded Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, during the inauguration of Guy Potter Benton as President of the University of the Philippines on December 26, 1921.


  He was the family disciplinarian. He had a conference with his children after the evening dinner. He emphasized the virtue of thrift. For his three daughters, he bought a book entitled Ekonomiya Domestika which served as a guide to the family budget.


  The family had enough household helpers but he had his own chore to do at home everyday. He instructed his daughters on household activities, like cooking, sewing and home furnishing.


  He urged his children and helpers to hear Mass during Sundays and other holidays of obligations. He mingled with the common people at social gatherings and did this particularly when he was still a member of the bench.


  He was married to Sabina Vergara with whom he had six children. Manuel, a prominent lawyer; Luis, former Justice of the Supreme Court; Antonio, Ex - councilor and former chief of police of Manila, Pilar, Alejandra and Rosita.


  He died of paralysis in Manila on April 29, 1927 at the age of 83. Almanza Street in Sta. Cruz, Manila and the Manila West High School in Tondo wetre renamed Florentino Torres.