The world has produced many great men, men who had the ability to see the future with great wisdom and care. This month, Mindanao Times would like to honor its founder, Atty. Guillermo E, Torres, a great man who quietly helped build the city from the ruins of World War II, providing precious human resources through the years. We take the liberty of printing excerpts of the book One Man’s Vision Guillermo E. Torres by former Mindanao Times publisher, the late Josefina C. San Pedro and University of Mindanao Senior Vice President Ronnie V. Amarado.
“World War II had just ended. In Davao City, there was great joy all around, as the residents who had left for evacuation centers during the war started filtering back to their homes or what was left of them. The victorious American forces were flooding the city with goodwill and chocolates, butter, cheese, corned beef and pork luncheon meat, canned milk, even canned egg powder, and all the good food the people had missed during the four years of harsh and stringent conditions under the Japanese Occupation.
“A group of Filipinos who had worked under the Laurel government was systematically herded and brought in for questioning. Among them were young lawyers Guillermo E. Torres of Batangas, Leopoldo M. Abellera of Ilocano heritage and Amado A. Munda, a barrister of Pangasinan roots. All had worked briefly with Gen. Paulino Santos, Commissioner for Mindanao and Sulu during the Japanese Occupation.
“Though anxious about their situation, the three enjoyed their incarceration in the old PC barracks. The Americans did not act like jailers. They were free to tell jokes, laugh and talk to one another and the other prisoners, regaling each with their life stories and their plans for life once they were free.
“It was a day of joy for their families when at last they were released. No witnesses had come forward to testify and to prove that they had done anything inimical to the country. On the contrary, there were people who testified to their favor. In fact, it turned out that they had even helped many of their countrymen in their work in the Mindanao and Sulu Commission.
“The two lawyers put up their own law offices and the barrister left for Manila with his wife, the former Rosa A. Santos, a UP law graduate and the eldest daughter of Gen. Paulino Santos, to prepare for the bar examinations.
“Bering Torres established his law and accounting office at the family residence at the corner of Claveria and Rizal Streets. He immediately noticed the lack of a “real” community newspaper in the city. Davao City was then in the process of re-establishing the government and rebuilding its infrastructures. He realized the urgent need for a vehicle of information that could convey to the community what was happening around them, like who their government officials were at the time, and where to go for assistance in time of need.
“In those days, the people depended on the radio for news and other information. The national newspapers, if they came, were several days late. After the liberation of the city by the combined Filipino American forcers, the Philippine Civil Affairs Unit (PICAU) No. 29 of the 24th Division of the US Army, assumed control of all Japanese owned properties including the printing press.
“With some friends, among them Don Pedro Lat and Mr. Roman Tesoro, both fellow Batangeños, Bering formed a corporation and bought the printing press, including the Davao Times from the PICAU. It was renamed the Mindanao Times . It was registered at the Post Office in April 1946, with Bering as its first editor, the tabloid-sized paper carried news and news features in English, Cebuano, Tagalog and Spanish.
Now, 74 years later, Mindanao Times forges ahead boldly, bearing the ideals its founders – to be vigilant at all times – well into the new age.”