Buried WWII Treasures in the Philippines
by Tony Wells.
You may not know it, but there are literally billions in gold, statues and other Asian looted treasures buried in hundreds of secret locations throughout the Philippines right now. No, this is not some wild, imaginative fiction story written by a bored author on a Sunday afternoon. The story The story you are about to read is based on years of research, interviews and fact. Absolutely, no fiction involved.
Because the Japanese General, Yamashita Tomoyuke (a.k.a.-The Tiger of Malaya), was in command of the Philippines when it was invaded by the Americans, these hidden treasures have become known as Yamashita's Gold or the Tiger's Gold. Shortly following the end of World War II, Yamashita was tried for war crimes and hung in the Philippines. He never disclosed any of the secret locations of Asia's buried looted war treasures.
During the earlier part of the war W.W.II looted treasures were being shipped back to Japan for badly needed war finances. However, when American patrolling naval vessels made the shipping of these looted treasures to Japan much too risky to continue with due to almost certain loss, another plan was devised.
Investigative reports show that a great bulk of World War II treasures reached the Philippines from the latter part of 1943 through October, 1944, at that period when Field Marshall Count Terauchi was in charge of the Japanese Imperial Forces in the southeast area of the Pacific. He had ordered Admiral Masaharu (then over-all military commander of the Philippines before General Yamashita) and several other admirals and generals (including Yamashita) that all war booties taken from their respective occupied territories comprising Java, Sumatra, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, and Northern India be collected and thereafter transferred to the Philippines.
Japan had always considered the Philippine Islands to be a very important strategic location for military bases in Southeast Asia. Unknown to the rest of the world, the Japanese had a major plan for post war sovereignty, and the Philippine Archipelago was included in this elaborate scheme. Once the shipping lanes became too dangerous due to American Naval vessels, almost all of the loot that the Japanese had accumulated thereafter was being channeled to the Philippines and buried. Their ultimate plan was that when the war was over they were going to withdraw forces from all the other Asian countries, but try to maintain there colonial rule over the Philippine Islands.
Under the banner of "Asia for Asians" they prescribed some reforms in the guise of nationalism. In hopes to win over the Philippine people, in 1943, the Japanese went as far as setting up a "Philippine Republic" and installing a puppet government with the Judge Jose Laurel as president. By winning over the hearts of the Philippine people and later even granting them independence, the Japanese hoped that they would then be regarded as "heroes" by them. This would also allow them to put military bases there as a pretext of "protection for the Philippine people". In this way, they could remain in the Philippines for as long as they liked and take their time to re-excavate the stolen W.W.II loot at their leisure. It was a good plan but in the end it didn't work out--the Americans invaded the Philippines in October 1944.
However, before this U.S. invasion, the Japanese were very busy hiding and securing its Asian W.W.II loot. Elaborate tunnels were dug, some down to depths of a few hundred feet, to the final "storage chambers" where the gold was to be kept. Most, if not all of these tunnels, were booby-trapped and rigged with 1,000 and 2,000 pound W.W.II bombs and poisonous gas. This trick would help deter the buried loot from falling into enemy hands. Detailed maps of the sites were drawn up on rectangular rice paper--all written in the 2,000 year-old Japanese script known as "Kungi", which hasn't been used for the past 150 years. Numerous concrete markers, which were to be left as clues, were also buried at strategic locations that would later lead the looters back to the hidden caches. These markers were in the shapes of different animals and had Kungi writing on them.
In most cases, POW labor was used to dig the intricate tunneling systems. In all cases, upon completion of securing the gold in the pits...the POWs were all executed and buried along with the treasures. In some rare cases, Japanese officers even had their own soldiers killed and buried along with the treasure to protect their secret locations.
In all there were 172 "documented" Philippine burial sites (138 land and 34 water sites) left by the Japanese. This is not to even mention the numerous "private" burials of W.W.II loot by greedy officers and renegade soldiers. There was still much treasure remaining to be buried when the U.S. abruptly invaded the islands. Japanese forces took all of this with them up into the mountains in the northern Philippines and other areas during their retreat, where it was all buried at many different locations.
It is estimated that the total worth of this war loot ranged up to three billion 1940's dollars--the equivalent of over $100 billion today. According to various post war estimates, the amount of gold bullion alone was 4,000 to 6,000 tons. Top U.S. and Japanese sources claim that it would take at least one hundred years to unearth all of these hidden treasures.
If you're wondering why the Japanese themselves haven't gone back to the Philippines to try and secretly recover some of this hidden booty, the answer is: They certainly have...but only a very small percentage of what was actually buried! Ex-president Ferdinand Marcos himself managed to recover several sites (with the assistance of some ex-Japanese soldiers) and that is how he became so wealthy.
Tony Wells is President of SEARCHMASTERS, a salvage group based in Singapore, and he is the author of Shipwrecks & Sunken Treasure in Southeast Asia. Searchmasters is seeking investors to participate in the recovery of billions in W.W.II treasures buried in the Philippines. MD of Searchmasters: (http://www.singnet.com.sg/~twells/smloot2.htm) E-mail: