Although this page comes under the classification of places further afield, it is actually about 7000 miles away, but it may be of some interest to people reading this blog site.
Around 2009 my sister- in -law brought a 5000 square metre plot of land off her friend Elvie Kessler who owns a large amount of land on Kinakartan island in the Philippines, she very generously gave me 200 square metres on which I had a three bedroom bungalow built. The island is probably no more than 3-4 miles across and is untouched by commercialism or tourism. However due to being made redundant and a change of job it was january 2012 before I made the long trip out to Kinakartan to view the house.
We made the trip from the mainland (Dan Bantayan) across probably 5 miles of open sea in what is known as a pump boat, which resembles an oversize canoe with outriggers. The crossing took about threequarters of an hour, however a lot depends on the sea conditions and sometimes if the weather becomes rough you may become marooned on the island, so it is essential that you bring with you sufficient food just in case.
When I had the house built here I was unaware that the Japanese had occupied the island during the Second World War, and as a matter of pure coincidence I had been researching Yashamito’s gold before I made the trip out here, the following account relates to the gold which is said to be concealed and scattered throughout the Philippines:
Yamashita’s gold is the collective name given to the gold, platinum, jewellery and other precious items stolen by the forces of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Many treasure hunters believe Yamashita’s loot is still concealed somewhere in the Philippines.
General Tomoyuki Yamashita, is said to have ordered the concealment of the treasure as he retreated from US forces, breaking the treasure, said to have been carried on several trucks, into many smaller stashes that were hidden along the line of his retreat on the island Luzon. The bulk of the stashes are said to be concentrated in the mountainous area where Yamashita made his last stand against the invading US troops, before his eventual surrender on September 2nd, 1945.
The gold and other valuables were stolen from East and Southeast Asia by Japanese forces during World War II and supposedly hidden in the Philippines. Many people believe the reports of hidden treasure to be an urban legend, but the treasure stories do have supporters among some respected researchers and historians. There are still many treasure hunters who comb the Philippine countryside in search of the treasure.
The ‘gold’ is believed to have been anything from gold bullion to religious statues. The theory is that the treasure from Asia was to finance Japan’s war effort. The treasure had to be transported from the continent back to Japan, via the sea. Most of the stolen treasure from South East Asia was first shipped to the port of Singapore, where it was then relayed to the Philippines. From the Philippines, it was intended, the treasure would be shipped to the Japanese home islands.
However, as the Pacific War progressed, Allied submarines and aircraft took a heavy toll on Japan’s shipping. The Japanese then took the treasure and hid it in caves and underground complexes throughout the Philippines, hoping to recover it after the war was over. However, many of those who knew of the locations of the loot were either executed or incarcerated for war crimes, including Yamashita. Thus, the whereabouts of the treasure were lost. Many years later, Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos claimed to have discovered the location of the treasure, and to have deposited it in secret bank accounts. These hoards are known collectively as the ‘Marcos gold’. There is, however, a counter-allegation that Marcos invented the story, as a cover for his thefts from the Filipino national treasury. The relevance of this account will become evident as the story progresses.
When we arrived at the island we made our way to Elvie Kessler’s house which was only a few yards from the beach where we landed, after having some lunch my wife and I went to view our house which was only about two hundred yards away, we made our way along the dirt path which is also used as a road for the few small motorbikes which are used on the island. There are no cars on the island and the bikes don’t have to be registered or taxed or insured, probably due to the fact that there is no police on the island!
The main road on the island, at rush hour (lol).
We made our way along the dirt road and found in places it changed to a concrete roadway about six feet wide, how they managed to construct it out of concrete which must have been transported from the main land remains a puzzle.
After a couple of hundred yards we came to the bungalow which was hard to miss as it bears no resemblance to the type of houses that the islanders live in. Although there are a few shops on the island they are hard to detect as they resemble the islanders houses and have no signs or advertising on them, they only sell very basic items as most goods have to be brought over from the mainland.
We were pleasantly suprised with the house which has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an open plan living and dining area. The garden also has access to the beach through the gate at the rear of the house. There are coconut and papaya trees growing in the garden even though there is very little top soil. The ground seems to be made up of coral and rock which suggests that the island was probably beneath the sea at some time in the past, so it would be difficult to grow vegetables without bringing in some topsoil from the mainland.
We used the house to sleep in, however our meals were cooked by Elvie’s housekeepers at Elvie’s house. She also arranged for one of her friend’s, Arfe to take us sight seeing on his motorbike the following day. It is just as well that their is no police on the island as 3-4 people on a motorbike is the norm on the island. Elvie returned to the mainland on business the following day, however Arfe turned up as promised at 7 a.m and we set off towards the northern part of the island, we travelled for about twenty minutes and then set off on foot following a small path which took us through scrub land and planted agarve bushes, after a short time the landscape started to change and we started to climb down a ravine which ended at a padlocked fence.
Arfe went on to explain that the person who owned the land was digging for Yamashita’s treasure and he had the key for the padlock, so he said that he would go and find the owner and return with the key. After about twenty minutes in which I spent time feeding pieces of broken biscuit to these large ants which would scurry off taking their burden to some place beneath the ground. Eventually Arfe turned up once more with man dressed in combat gear who had the key to the padlock, after opening the gate he introduced himself as Ceasar, an ex military gentleman aged 67 who had been digging in various places on land that he owned. We followed him along the chasm where we reached the first of his dig sites, and where we met some of the workers who were helping him dig for the hidden treasures said to be buried here.
After meeting Ceasar’s workers we moved on and following Ceasar we headed through rough terrain and jungle until eventually we reached two pools which were linked to the sea, and which Ceasar used to catch fish to supplement his diet, close to these pools was another place where he had been digging, however he had the added problem of the high tide flooding the tunnel he had built.
He told me that he intended on digging another intersecting tunnel and using dynamite to speed up the process. After visiting the last dig site we said our goodbyes and headed back to where the bike was parked, Arfe was aware of my interest in the search for treasure and told me that there was said to be buried Japanese treasure on land that he owned, and would I like to visit the cavern where it is said to be buried. I told him that I would as long as we called in at my house to collect a torch, after picking up the torch we rode on the bike for another ten minutes before parking it up once more. After that we made our way up the side of a steep hill which was covered in undergrowth, we even came across a snake which was making its way through branches above our heads, fortunately it wasn’t poisonous. As we carried on climbing Arfe recounted the following story regarding the land: Arfe’s Father-in-law had owned the land all of his life but had refused to sell it even though it was common knowledge that there was Japanese treasure buried on it. Apparently his Father-in-law gave permission to two people to attempt to retrieve the gold, they turned out to be two hard drinking womanizer’s, they purchased 300,000 pesos worth of mining equipment, and whilst transporting it to the island on a pump boat the weather must have deteriorated and caused the boat to capsize resulting in the loss of all their equipment, shortly after this they gave up their attempt at finding the gold. Around December of last year Arfe’s Father-in Law passed away and he was forced to take out a loan to pay for the funeral expenses.
Because of the fact that I don’t drink or smoke and am married and also have a house on the island Arfe wanted me to buy the land off him which contains the cave system where the gold is said to be buried. The asking price was 200,000 pesos which equates to just over £3000, with this money he would be able to pay off his loan for the funeral expenses.
By this time we had reached the top of the hill and come to one of the openings which leads into the cave system. The opening dropped more or less straight down to a depth of around 40ft so access would be quite difficult. There is circumstancial evidence to suggest that something was buried here, as Arfe took me to what he claims was a Japanese machine gun post directly above the cave entrance, and where he had recovered brass bullet casings, perhaps this gun enplacement was to protect the activities that were taking place here all those years ago. Arfe also told me he had found symbols carved into the walls of the cave that the Japanese soldiers had left which are said to denote what was buried at this site, he drew the symbols on a piece of paper and I have reproduced them here. I told Arfe that when I got back to the U.K. I would attempt to try to find what the meaning of the symbols represented. It has been estimated that there is £100 billion pounds worth of gold buried at around 163 sites scattered throughout the Philippines, so if there is any gold buried at this site a conservative estimate could be in the order of millions of pounds. However the down side to all of this is that the Japanese soldiers are known to have booby trapped the burial sites to make it difficult for anyone to recover the buried treasure. These booby traps are known to have used cyanide gas, the following account was taken from a forum website and is as follows: Another piece of valuable information when you dig be careful cyanide traps consist of a two compartment glass container with sulfuric or hydrochloric acid in it on one side and sodium or potasium cyanide on the other side of it. the cyanide gas is released when the acid makes contact with the acid. otherwise the gas will disburse or evaporate with time it is a gas and will disipate into the surounding air after a time. Alkaline compounds like sodium hydroxide or potasium hydroxide was also placed in the soil around containers and are most likely the cause of irritation and broken skin it can be neutralize with mild acids like vinegar. acid compiounds in the soil can be neutralized with sweat lime or baking soda, also cyanide can not release tha gas fumes if the Ph is above 14 the acide can be neutrlized with baking soda or sweat limetive.
After Arfe had shown me where the machine gun post was situated we battled through dense overgrown jungle and finally emerged at another entrance to the cave system on the other side of the hill. I was told that when the Japanese had buried the gold one of their practises was to sacrifice either a couple of their soldiers or the slaves who had been used to bury the gold. It was their belief that the souls of the sacrificial victims would guard the gold, and it is this reason why most Filipino’s will not enter caves in general as they believe in this superstition, however Arfe didn’t seem affected by this belief and he entered the cave system with me. I came across another website forum regarding booby trapped sites and is as follows: it is true that there are bombs and poisonous gases that the Japs place in their area where the items were buried. However please be informed that they only place bombs in entrance of caves and tunnels in route to their bunkers. in vertical diggings some times if the volume is great ( treasure) they usually put some itching powder when mixed with under ground water. that is the only bobby trap that they place because they do not put bombs and poisonous gas in such vertical digging. kasi sila mismo ang madidisgrasya kung in the event they will retrieve their own hidden objects. so just proceed and no worry of such bobby traps.
your only obstacle as we have already experience is the water trap. most of their buried items are place in underneath spring that when you hit he covering water continues to flow and make hard for the diggers . they usually place gold, silver , platinum and precious stones while jewelries and watches are place in dry areas without the presence of spring water.
As I have said previously Filipino’s are of the opinion that there is a curse on the gold, and although probably most people would regard this as mere superstition, I did take an interesting photograph of the first cave that we came too. When I got home I zoomed in on the photograph and it revealed what appears to be a face in the rocks, perhaps I am becoming paranoid or suffering from gold fever, however I have tried to reproduce the photo, so take a look and see what you think!
At the present time I have emailed a Donald Clements who I believe to be an expert in this field, and who resides in Bohol in the Philippines, I have asked for his help in deciphering the Japanese symbols found in the cave. As to whether or not I will buy the land I am still undecided, however if there are any further developments I will continue to update this web page.
On November 8th 2013 the deadliest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines made landfall. This storm was unlike any other as it was the most powerful ever to make landfall anywhere in the world at 275km per hour.
As my house is or was off the mainland of Cebu which took the full force of the typhoon the damage was devastating. My friend Elvie Kesler who had four houses around three hundred yards away from my house lost all of them, just concrete bases are all that remain.
The primary school on the island has also been destroyed along with a great deal of property, the large island called Santa Fe which is close to Kinakartan and was a popular tourist location was hit hard, all the resorts and hotels have been wiped out. As for my house I believe my housekeeper and her children seen in the photograph walking up my garden path in front of my house lost their lives, although structurally my house survived the roof was never designed to withstand 170mph winds, consequently it was blown off. Fortunately my house was insured unlike the Swiss guy who had a two storey house next door whose house was also destroyed, whether he will rebuild and whether my insurance company will pay out or class it as an act of God is anyone’s guess, although they have actually been to the island to assess the damage to the house. Below is a photograph of my Swiss neighbours house showing the damage which the typhoon inflicted upon it.
In its 2004 World Disasters Report, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reveals that the annual number of disasters due to storms, floods, landslides and droughts have climbed from around 200 before 1996 to more than 700 in the first few years of the millennium. These figures indicate that these types of disasters are on the increase, so even if my house is repaired there is the constant fear that another typhoon could strike at any time.
For this reason I have travelled out to Bulgaria to view a mountain villa in the Balkan National park which is well away from any volcanoes, tsunamis and typhoons. However after travelling out to view the property with the estate agent and a couple of russians I came to the conclusion that the reason the property had been reduced in price by a considerable amount (it was now only £13000) was that the previous owners, although having renovated the property had been having problems connecting a water supply to the house, so for this reason I decided against buying it.
Since having returned from Bulgaria I have seen another property which I like which is not that far from the one I viewed, however this one is three storey and was built only 4 years ago and is fully furnished. If I have not heard from the insurance company in the next six months about repairing my house, and if this one is still for sale I may travel out there again and buy it.