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Posted on Friday, August 26 - 2005

" Rumors of secret maps, symbols carved in rocks and booby-trapped underground chambers filled with looted gold have lured treasure hunters to the Philippines for decades.They are drawn by a legend that Japanese occupying forces stashed away billions of dollars‘ worth of bullion and ..."

General Yamashita in 1930

Rumors of secret maps, symbols carved in rocks and booby-trapped underground chambers filled with looted gold have lured treasure hunters to the Philippines for decades.They are drawn by a legend that Japanese occupying forces stashed away billions of dollars‘ worth of bullion and precious artifacts looted from across Asia when they realized their empire was collapsing in 1945.In a tale filled with rumors of cover-ups and conspiracy, treasure hunters claim that although American forces spirited away much of the hoard after the war, much of the loot remain unaccounted for. For many, though, the Yamashita treasure, named after thewartime military governor of the archipelago, General Tomoyuki Yamashita, is nothing more than a fable with no evidence to back up the booty hunters‘ outlandish claims. Today, armed with a pruning hook, Nicanor Brun guards the general‘s memorial stone from weeds and tomb raiders.

The shrine lies on the lower slopes of a mountain, surrounded by an orchard beside a mountain brook.Brun says his late mother told him Yamashita was strung up from a branch of an old mango tree at the site on the lower slopes of Mount Makiling south of Manila in early 1946.“There are a lot of diggings around,“ says the 47 year-old grandson of an anti-Japanese resistance fighter. He says there have been several excavations in the area, including at the base of a waterfall called Dampalit where residents say treasure hunters recoveredstones with Japanese characters inscribed on them. According to legend, after defeating British forces in Malaya and Singapore, where he earned himself the moniker the “Tiger of Malaya,“ General Yamashita looted 12 countries in eastern and Southeast Asia and shipped the booty to the Philippines.Six decades after the Japanese surrender, internet chatrooms are alive with tales of networks of tunnels and chambers filled with gold and protected by booby-traps, pressure mines and trip wires laid by Japanese engineers.“One of our companions died in a poison trap, fortunately he was able to bring home two bars of gold,“ writes one treasure hunter. “We know the site but our problem is how to get our hands on the treasure without getting poisoned. The site is within a poisoned waterfall.“Ot......


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