The controversial story about the hidden treasures of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita has been disturbing tens of thousands of Filipino treasure hunters for decades and so far, there is solid evidence that can support the more than half-century-old story.
Millions of pesos have been spent and thousands of businesses went bankrupt yet people still believe that one day, their life could turn into better if they find the famed treasure.
This writer used to join a group of a treasure hunter who operated in Silay City, Negros Occidental for more than two years, dug more than a dozen of deep holes, yet found nothing but rusted pipes and other old steel materials.
Dreamers may continue dreaming and in case they are finding it difficult where to find the Yamashita treasure in the Philippines, the following places are some of the most possible locations based on history, personal knowledge, and other factors.
1. Baguio City
On March 2017, the Baguio City council granted a group of treasure hunters represented by local resident Eliseo Cabusao, a permit to explore areas near the Baguio City Convention Center (BCCC).
Cabusao told the council that the project was conceived after he was informed by a 90-year-old United States immigrant about truckloads of gold he allegedly helped bury near the BCC lot. The operation was kept private and the result was never released to the media.
Most tales about the Yamashita treasure are set in Baguio, where the Japanese general set up his headquarters and where he formally surrendered, ending the Pacific leg of World War II in 1945.
2. Balanga, Bataan
On March 2015, news that the Cathedral of Saint Josep in Balanga, Bataan was sitting on a large cow-sized treasure, went viral online. The source of the news was the grandson of a Japanese Imperial Army General who was identified with his name Matsumoto.
According to Jovit Sumile, bodyguard and the personal driver of the Japanese national, Matsumoto, the gold bullion hidden under the cathedral is as big as a cow weighing exactly 10 tons. The main purpose of the Japanese of frequently visiting the place was to get access to the Church leadership to retrieve the gold.
Balanga City Mayor Jose Enrique Garcia, however, denied the report and the news issue was later forgotten, but some people, especially the old ones, believed that Matsumoto’s claim was true.
Bohol is another controversial place when talking about Yamashita treasure in the Philippines. Although the province is not known as one of the places where the last Japanese Imperial Army surrendered, there is a tale that a group of Japanese soldiers buried many things in different areas of Bohol, especially beneath different falls that became today’s tourists’ attractions. Many treasure hunters tried searching the elusive treasure in different parts of the island but mostly failed.
4. Silay City, Neg. Occ
Silay City is where this writer was born, and Brgy. Patag, the last Japanese army stronghold, is just 12 kilometres away from our ancestral house. My father, who died last 2014 at 87, told me many stories about the Japanese treasure, but no specific location was mentioned. He was 18 years old when the last Japanese forces surrendered to the American and Philippine Army in the mountains of Brgy. Patag and he witnessed the whole thing. He worked as a guerrilla assistant.
Brgy. Patag is among the few places in the Philippines that has a Japanese Shrine. Some Japanese nationals visit the place every year to pray for their fallen relatives.
Brgy. Patag is the last stronghold of the Japanese Army in the whole Negros Island. There are lots of tunnels in the area and some are not even accessible due to natural causes. The area is included in the Northern Negros Forest reserve so diffing is extremely prohibited. Bantay Gubat rangers are almost everywhere.
Silay City, being one of the oldest and most historical places in the Philippines, is rich in heritage, and might even be “the treasure”.
5. Caliraya, Lumban, Laguna
The top of the mountain overlooking the lake Caliraya is believed to hold the biggest haul of Yamashita treasure. This is also the place where the Japanese garden is located and was visited by Emperor Akihito in January 2016. If you are familiar with the story of Golden Buddha, this is where it was reportedly found.
6. Camalig, Albay
The town of Camalig in Albay is also controversial after stories circulated that some Japanese general stayed in old houses during World War II.
Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, who led the Japanese forces in the Philippines, was rumoured to have stayed in one of the houses during their foray into Bicol. However, this was simply a story passed on from person to person, without any solid evidence to back it up. The owner of the house whose name was not revealed to the public reportedly became rich after finding some treasure in his basement on the late ’80s.
7. Caringo Island, Camarines Norte
Several stories claim that the first loot from other countries was brought to the Philippines through the Pacific, but almost half of the treasure was buried at Caringo Island as it is difficult to transport by land. Caringo Island was said to be the place where the first loot landed.
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