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Wild gold chase

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There’s a new version of the Yamashita Treasure urban legend. The gold loot allegedly hidden by the commander of the Japanese forces in the Philippines during World War II, General Tomoyuki Yamashita, is supposedly buried somewhere in Bukidnon.

Previously, part of the bars of gold allegedly stolen by Japanese invaders from Southeast Asian countries was found in an underground chamber in Baguio City by treasure hunter Rogelio Roxas. However, unnamed treasure hunters now claim that a military unit under Yamashita led by Col. Fumio Suzuki was ordered by the general to secure and hide part of the treasure in Mt. Kitanglad.

The hunters, citing war documents, said Suzuki and 400 soldiers retreated towards Miarayon plains in Talakag, Bukidnon in 1944 and later disappeared in the base of the mountain for one year.

Suzuki and his remaining 28 men were then captured by a Philippine Constabulary unit and brought to Manila for war crimes trial.

Suzuki was eventually pardoned by then President Elpidio Quirino. He continued to return to Bukidnon in the guise of “sentimental journey” but was actually trying to locate the hidden treasure, according to the hunters.

The hunters were given a map to help them locate the war booty. Upon digging the former encampment and sites of the escape route of Suzuki’s men, they only found rusty guns, samurai and combat boots.

There were financiers who funded the diggings, including a retired Armed Forces of the Philippines general who spent his retirement money to find the treasure. But the retired general died without finding the treasure.

Some enterprising people tried to capitalize on the story of the treasure hunting in Bukidnon and sold 12 fake gold bars and three pieces of golden Buddha statues to buyers who believed they were part of the Yamashita stash. The duped Filipino and Japanese buyers filed a complaint with the police against the sellers.

In 2015, authorities arrested three residents of Talakag town and Malaybalay City for selling those fake gold bars and buddhas.

The Yamashita treasure not only remains elusive to hunters. It also causes frustrations to gold digging financiers who end up bankrupt and empty-handed and to others tricked into buying fake lusters.

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