Is it true that caches of treasures–notably, Yamashita treasures– are buried in secret places in the Philippines? How did they get there in the first place? Treasure hunting in the country is accompanied by numerous Philippine myths or tales on them—from word of mouth and some even from the news.
Treasure hunting takes place in the country now and then, more so for the Yamashita treasures. Lots were illegal. Philippine legends say treasures are said to come from two sources—the Second World War and the unseen supernatural world.
According to a Philippine myth, Hitler tied up with Italy and Japan, worrying the Allied Forces about Vatican treasures that might fall in The Fuehrer’s hands. They were said to have secretly smuggled out some treasures and kept in England. But Hitler was gaining more ground faster than expected. So they were shipped out to Hongkong. But the Japanese intercepted it and diverted it to Australia.
But a super typhoon destroyed the Japanese fleet and the treasures ended up somewhere between the Visayas and Mindanao. That’s how it came to the Philippines, says a Philippine legend.
The treasures were gradually transported to Manila, says the myth, and portions were stashed away in remote mountains, caves, old churches, old monuments, old trees, or underground.
Then Americans came to free Manila forcing General Yamashita to divide his forces, each carrying enormous amounts of treasures. Some headed north, some to provinces around Manila. Filipino slaves were said to have carried the bulk of the treasures and did lots of the digging, says Philippine legends about them.
The Filipinos were later killed, along with scores of Japanese soldiers, to ensure the treasures’ secrecy. Later, According to the Philippine myth, ranking Japanese soldiers reportedly returned to the country as tourists after the war and recovered a lot of the treasure—again with the help of Filipinos.
Souls of those killed in the course of treasure hiding are said to be guarding them. So ghost stories accompany tales of the Yamashita treasures. They say, where ghosts of Japanese soldiers abound; there a treasure might be hidden. Tales of white ladies are also connected to treasures, more of the Yamashita treasures, according to Philippine myths-—they were rape victims of Japanese soldiers.
The local version of fairy tales has its own story. Local, flat-nosed nymphs, fairies, leprechauns, gnomes, and the like are said to be spirit guardians of unimaginable hoards of wealth—fact is, the tales say, Filipinos are sitting on a mountain of gold. And these are not just natural resources; they are literally treasures of gold.
Philippine myths or legends of treasures never die. They’re taken seriously even by respectable people. And who knows? They might indeed be real, and those of us who laugh at these tales might one day discover too late that the joke was on us.