The Legacy of General Paulino Santos
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
– William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
There was a man who was destined to achieve greatness not for himself but for others and in the places he was thrust in.
On June 22, 1890, a child named Paulino was born in Camiling, Tarlac to Remigio Santos and Rosa Torres. Growing up, he pursued a career in military by enrolling at the Philippine Constabulary Officer’s School (now the Philippine Military Academy) where he graduated as valedictorian in 1914.
From 1916 to 1917 Paulino Santos fought bravely in Lanao where he attained exceptional and legendary exploits. As a result, he was awarded by Governor Frank Murphy with the Medal of Valor in 1917. He was eventually appointed as the governor of the undivided province of Lanao. His administration oversaw the growth and development of education, agriculture and communications in the province.
In 1930, Paulino Santos was appointed as director of the Bureau of Prisons, established the Davao Penal Colony, and transferred the Bilibid Prison from the Mayhaligue Estate in Manila to Muntinlupa, Rizal.
Paulino Santos reentered the military service in 1936. President Manuel L. Quezon appointed Major General Paulino Santos as the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army shortly thereafter.
As administrator of the National Land Settlement Administration, General Paulino Santos oversaw the relocation of settlers in the southern parts of the undivided Cotabato Empire. His effective and efficient administration had him credited in the creation of six settlements: Banga, Koronadal, Polomolok, Rajah Buayan (now the present General Santos City), Tampakan, and Tupi.
General Paulino Santos was forced to collaborate with the Japanese during the Second World War to avoid more casualties and further damages in Cotabato.
Before the Liberation, General Paulino Santos was taken as prisoner by General Kenshichi Masouka. On August 29, 1945, Major General Paulino Santos died in the hinterlands of Kiangan, Mountain Province (now a municipality of the province of Ifugao). Then four days later, General Tomuki Yamashita informally surrendered in this Ifugao town.
But the grateful country did not forget his contribution to nation building and community development. The former town of Dadiangas and later called Rajah Buayan was renamed as General Santos when President Ramon Magsaysay signed into law the Republic Act No. 1107 on June 15, 1954.
On June 15, 1968, President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Republic Act No. 5412 converting the Municipality of General Santos into a city.
In what could have been envisaged by this pioneering nation builder and community developer, General Santos is now a highly urbanized city and one of the important trading, commercial, and educational centers in Mindanao. General Santos City has the largest international airport in Mindanao island with a 3221-meter runway. The city is also called the Tuna Capital of the Philippines as it yields several metric tons of tuna harvests annually.
In the intersection of Rafael Alunan Avenue and General Santos Drive in South Cotabato‘s capital Koronadal City, a round ball or rotunda is standing proud and dignified with a statue of General Paulino Santos facing the city named after him.