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Sports officials, athletes, and coaches convened in Malacañang Palace Wednesday in a display of unity for their challenging task of winning gold medals in the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian Games. The get-together also signals the government’s intervention in the holding of the regional sports tournament, as the PHISGOC Foundation is mired in allegations of corruption.

While government officials and athletes are open in their quest for gold for national honor and pride, other gold hunters have to be obscure in their equally thrilling undertaking.

Ken, for one, had to hide under a pseudonym because he and his team of treasure hunters have been searching for part of the fabled gold bullions of Japanese Imperial Army (JIA) General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

For years, he has been leading several discreet diggings to find the gold he claimed were buried in former garrisons and encampments of the JIA after World War 2. Since treasure hunting is illegal, they carry out their diggings discreetly to avoid detection.

“We were able to locate a location, and we will start digging soon,” Ken tells the Daily Tribune in an interview.

Ken, a professional plumber and an “advancero” or gold vein tracker, says the search of their group is focused on at least three Bukidnon sites indicated in an old Japanese army map provided by his Manila-based financier, a son of a former JIA officer.

The old maps have detailed signage where the treasures were purportedly buried. He says two of the locations are in a public plaza, while the third is in the outskirts of a former JIA garrison.

Ken says he has already filed a leave from work in preparation for the new digging.

He describes the so-called Yamashita treasure as consisting of small gold bars, which were entrusted to select JIA units for safekeeping.

“We are confident we will find the treasure. It’s just a matter of time,” says Ken who believes the treasure remains intact in some of the sites, particularly in populated areas.

Of course, Ken and his Yamashita hunting team will need morale-boosting words on top of stealth to find what they are looking for.

Most of the sites they visited were already vandalized by other groups who are also searching for the treasure, claims Ken.

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