Myth of Yamashita treasure lives on

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Monday, May 19, 2014

THE lure of buried treasure still captivates a curious few here.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Engineer Joseph Cervantes said treasure hunting is still prevalent in the region.

Cervantes said a report on an alleged small scale mining activity turned out to be illegal treasure hunting proving the lure of lost gold rings true for highland folk.


Cervates said the report came in the first quarter of this year and was investigated by the department.

For almost 70 years and counting, treasure hunters are still searching for the elusive Yamashita treasure.

Rumored to be hidden somewhere in the Cordilleras, the DENR has recommended Cease and Desist Orders (CDO’s) to at least five illegal treasure hunters.

Cervantes encouraged complaints for illegal treasure hunting if residents are suspicious of activities in their areas.

In 2005, The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the DENR identified at least 14 illegal treasure mongers looking for hidden wealth in the city and neighboring Benguet province.

The surrender of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Supreme Commander of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines was marked in Ifugao at the Home Economics building in Kiangan town.

Yamashita physically surrendered to the Americans on September 2, 1945 after he came down from his hideout in the Hungduan-Tinoc area.

With that, treasure hunters still abound in the region in search for the rumored gold left behind by Japanese forces.

The lure of the Yamashita Gold, have become an urban legend in the Philippines. The massive treasure hoard amassed during the Japanese occupation of the islands from 1942 to 1945 during World War II.

Ferdinand Marcos, former president of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, is believed to have obtained part of his personal fortune from the Yamashita hoard, which to this day cannot be proven.

Former Japanese soldiers have been frequenting Baguio and the neighboring provinces in search for buried treasure. Treasure maps abound claiming to lead to the Yamashita gold invite the curious to fund treasure expeditions in the region.

The DENR has given warnings for treasure mongers on illegal diggings as it poses as a hazard to soil foundation and may lead to erosion.

In Baguio City, the office of the Philippine Postal Corporation was not spared from the lure of instant wealth as city officials discovered on December 2003 a 1.2m x 1.2m opening in the supply room of the office.

Even Asia’s premier Military academy is not safe from gold scalpers, months ago Police were informed of intruders inside the perimeters of the Philippine Military Academy scourging of minerals, in violation of the Philippine Mining Law.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 20, 2014.

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