General Isidoro Torres

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GENERAL ISIDORO TORRES (b. April 10, 1866 – d. December 5, 1928) was a descendant of one of the most affluent families in Malolos, Bulacan. Quite similar with other well-off families like the Del Pilars, Teodoros, Santoses and the Hernandezes, most of the members of his family are revolutionaries. He was born to Florentino Torres and Maria Dayao in Matimbo, Malolos, from the province of Bulacan. His first lessons of cartilla (a primer for elementary students before going school at that time) were from Maestro Jose Reyes. He completed his secondary education in the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, and later on, attained his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Santo Tomas. Aside from coming from a known and wealthy family, Isidoro Torres was an active participant in all the community affairs, gaining more popularity from the society. By the age of 16, in 1882, he has already been involved in a plot to murder Father Moises Santos, a parish priest in their province who was compelled the people in paying excessive amounts of church fees. He was arrested, but in the end, he was absolved from the misdemeanour because of the social status of his family. He held a political position for 2 years as a cabeza de barangay in 1890. He joined the Katipunan while a cabeza de barangay with Deodato Arellano, Doroteo Karagdag, Juan de Leon and Manuel Crisostomo. Together, they organized a chapter of the Katipunan in Bulacan, the Sangguniang Lalawigang Balang Apoy. The Spanish considered these organizations illegal, and soon after their secret society was discovered, he fled to Masukol, Paombong, Bulacan, narrowly escaping his arrest. Upon arriving there, he immediately gathered 3,000 men from Hagonoy and Tondo. A bloody engagement occurred in Bustos, San Miguel and Calumpit when he held off the Spanish gunboat Napindan that blocked the Masukol River in November 1896, despite the Spanish’s advantage of having more sophisticated arms. In the revolutionary circle, he was better known as Matang Lawin. He managed to attain the rank of Colonel during the fight around Biak-na-Bato. He was appointed Brigadier General by Aguinaldo during the organization of military departmental zones in Central Luzon at Mount Puray on June 1897. When the hostilities against the Spanish government in the Philippines in 1898 resumed, General Isidoro Torres was once again out in the battlefields. Macabebe, Pampanga was captured on July 3, 1898 by General Isidoro Torres and General Geronimo. He represented Balabac in the Malolos Congress. Under his leadership, he lead 6,000 man strong Filipino army that marched in the parade at the inauguration of the Philippine Republic on January 23, 1899. Together with his men and under the command of General Antonio Luna, they fought against the invasion of Manila. Later, he was assigned to be the Director of Arms, and afterwards as the Assistant Secretary of War. Shortly after that, he was appointed as the military governor of Bulacan. As politico – military governor of Bulacan, Isidoro Torres conducted guerrilla warfare against the Americans. This happened upon the establishment of the Central Government of Luzon under General Pantaleon Garcia in 1900. However, the Americans were better trained and equipped; and they were victorious in most of their battles. The illustrados started collaborating with the Americans to have peace in the country and persuaded the leading Filipino generals to surrender. This resulted to the gradual dissipation of the strength of the Filipino resistance. During his battles, he avoided suicidal assaults by his men on the enemy. Because of this, he was placed in a military confinement for some time. General Isidoro Torres valued the life of each man. Summary executions without review and the hasty approval of cases of “war criminals” were avoided as a command to his men.

When peace was finally restored to Bulacan, position of Governor was offered to him. However, he refused it, and instead sailed for Singapore, and proceeded to Japan where he stayed for some time. He came home to the Philippines in 1903. He peacefully settled in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija with his wife, Amalia Bernabe. In Neva Ecija, he became the justice of peace from1910 to 1912. He was elected municipal councillor and afterwards delegate to the Philippine Assembly.

General Isidoro Torres died on December 5, 1928 at the age of 62. After his death, a research on his life was conducted by the National Historical Committee. In his birthplace, a marker with an inscription briefly narrating his life was installed.