History Of General Santos City

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A city once cursed with bombs and terrorists, was hidden in a thought of only having tuna as its pride, but we’ll let you see, there’s more than just fish….

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On February 27, 1939, General Paulino Santos led the first and largest batch of settlers organized under the National Land Settlement Administration to the shores of Sarangani Bay. The 62 pioneers, who mostly came from Luzon, industriously tilled Cotabato’s fertile expanse of land. After this first influx of pioneers, thousands more from Luzon and Visayas migrated into the area. This started the displacement of some of the native B’laan to the mountains and lost their livelihood. The B’laan people are the original settlers of the area once called Dadiangas for thousands of years. They live in a nomadic system in the area, where the names of the places are still recalled. One name is Dadiangas, the native word name of the tree specifically grown in the area. Under Indigenous Peoples Right Act IPRA law RA 8371, now they were protected and it is proven under the Philippine jurisprudence of the Supreme Court. Now the B’laan people live side by side and with harmony to the settlers and other immigrants from small islands in Visayas and Luzon.

In January 1948, by virtue of Republic Act No. 82, Buayan District became a full-fledged municipality whose territorial boundaries included the present municipalities of Sarangani and South Cotabato Provinces, namely Alabel, Glan, Malapatan, Malungon and Polomolok. NLSA Hospital Administrator Irineo I. Santiago became its first mayor.

Six years later, in June 1954, the Municipality of Buayan was renamed General Santos as a tribute to its great pioneer. This was made possible by Republic Act No. 1107 authored by Congressman Luminog Mangelen of Cotabato Province.

From 1963 to 1967, during the incumbency of Mayor Lucio A. Velayo, an upsurge in the municipality’s economy was experienced as several large agri-based corporations such as Dole Philippines, General Milling Corporation and UDAGRI expanded into the area. Although it was then qualified to become a fourth class city, the residents rejected a move by Congressman Salipada Pendatun to convert General Santos into a city and to rename it Rajah Buayan.

Finally, on July 8, 1968, upon approval of Republic Act No. 5412, which was authored by then late Congressman James L. Chiongbian, the Municipality of General Santos was converted into a city while keeping its name. It was inaugurated on September 5 of that year. Antonio C. Acharon became its first city mayor. In 1988, two decades after its inauguration, it was declared as a highly urbanized city.

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