The Reason for Treasure Hunting in the Philippines


Many Treasure Hunters across the globe are visiting the Philippines due to its precious and valuable hidden treasures. According to the Philippine History, everything started when the Spaniards came to colonize the country then followed by the Japanese Imperial regime. It took 333 years (1565 to 1898) under the Spanish colonization and another additional 3 years (1941 to 1945) under the Japanese occupation before the Filipinos finally gained their freedom.

If you wish to know more about the history of the Philippines then visiting Wikipedia is a good source of information.

Spanish Treasures

One of the main reason of treasure hunting in the Philippines are the lost "Spanish Treasures". According to some sources, the wealthy Spaniards who occupied the country had left and hid their precious valuables on this land. Some of them were confiscated by the Japanese Imperial Army when they succeeded in taking over the country in World War 2.

There are already plenty of recovered Spanish treasures as proofs which are now being exhibited in various Philippine Museums. Most of them comes in the form of old coins, antiques wares and jewelries.

Are you familiar about the Spaniards' Manila Galleon ships?

When the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, they had sent several trade ships known as the "Manila Galleons" containing unrecorded number of valuable treasures. However, these trade ships had to travel a very long and dangerous journey in the Pacific. As a result, most of them got wrecked due to the rough condition of the sea and coral reefs drowning thousands of men to their death along with the billions worth of treasure.

Despite of the tragedy, only few of the Manila Galleon ships made it into the Philippine shore. According to some sources, they were carrying the following valuable cargoes:

- Silver and Gold Coins
- Gold Bars
- Porcelain
- Jade
- Ivory
- Pearls
- All kinds of artifacts and precious stones

Japanese Treasures

When the Spanish Colonization (1898 to 1941) finally came to an end, only 43 years had passed and the Japanese Imperial Army took over the country. It was not only the Philippines but also most of the Asian countries had fallen down into their hands where they ended looting every precious valuables that they could grab. One of the most precious items that they looted were Golden Buddha.

Sitting Golden Buddha
The high-ranking Japanese Military Officer responsible in transporting the war loots was General Tomoyuki Yamashita, hence THs call them as the "Yamashita Treasure". He actually intended to transport them first into the Philippines then into Japan because it offers them an easier route on the sea.

Unfortunately, before General Yamashita was able to transport their war loots to Japan, the Allied Forces launched a surprise attacked. It was a combined Filipino and American forces lead by "General Mac Arthur" which finally broke down the Japanese Imperial Army's tough defenses. However, instead of the surrendering to avoid casualties, General Yamashita had ordered his men to escape and hide their looted treasures. And base on my own opinion, they had succeeded which is another main reason of treasure hunting in the Philippines.

Why does Philippine history does not cover much about the Japanese hidden treasures?

Indeed, Philippine history does not cover much anything about the hidden Japanese treasures in the country. It is even surprising to know that the Phil-Government supports the claim that the "Yamashita treasure does not exist" which is just a mere "myth". And to add up into this claim, Japan also claimed that they were able to successfully transport all their treasures into their main land just before they lost the war.

In a positive aspect, the Philippine Government denying the fact about the existence of the Yamashita treasure is probably for the protection and preservation of the environment. If it happens that they have announced that the hidden Japanese treasures are "very real" then this will urge every Filipino citizen to dig on various suspected places. As a result, this will create problem to the nation's natural and cultural heritage.

Do you believe in the existence of the Yamashita treasure?

You should be because there are already "plenty of proofs". To tell you, there are countless number of individuals who accidentally found some of them. Although, the majority of these people found the treasure by accident. You might be surprised to know that they are just ordinary people such as farmers tiling their land farms, residents building their houses, road contractors and etc...

There are also Japanese WW2 veterans who possess treasure maps in which they have passed down to their descendants. This is the reason why there are many Japanese and Korean Nationals today in the Philippines asking for old places in the past (such as Japanese Military Garrison, old Churches, old flag poles and etc...). They are actually searching for the hidden Yamashita treasure.

If you are not still convinced then you might want to try asking old Filipino people or Filipino war veterans who witnessed and survived the tragic events of World War 2. I myself have already encountered many WW2 survivors that still lives today where some of them claims that they have seen the treasures with their own naked eyes. Some of them even carried it on their own shoulders.

And as a successful TH, I strongly claim that Japanese treasures in the Philippines are real. They do exists waiting for the fortunate individuals to uncover them out.

Treasure Hunting Laws in the Philippines

Philippine Treasure Hunting Law
Hunting for treasure in the Philippines entitles you to follow the rules stated by the law which can be found under the "Republic Act No. 386: An Act to Ordain and Institute the Civil Code of the Philippines (Book III)".


From the reference above, read Article 713 and 718.


Article 438 to 439 of Book II of RA 386 also mentions about hidden treasures.

According to the Philippine Realtors, here are the following rules for any hidden treasures that are recovered:

1. Any hidden treasure found belongs to the owner of the land, building or property where the item has been found.

Due to this rule, what most treasure hunters do is to have a "written agreement" with the land owner. The written agreement contains all the details about their permission to conduct excavations and their percentage of shares when the treasure is found. Both parties will have to sign the agreement form to make it authentic.

2. When a certain person had uncovered treasure from another person's property, State or subdivisions by "chance". One-half of the treasure can be given to the finder. But if the finder is a trespasser, no reward or share will be given.

If it happens that you have accidentally found a hidden treasure on a certain individual's own property, it's all up to him about how much of the reward will he share it to you. Common example of such incidents are carpenters or construction workers who accidentally uncovered treasures while flattening or digging holes of the structure's foundation.

With this rule, the owner of the property may choose not to give any rewards to the finders. Due to this reason, some workers who has knowledge about this law would rather keep silent when they uncovered Japanese treasures. They will then cleverly sneak it out for their own sole gain.

In addition to this rule are the trespassers. They are individuals who enters someone else's property then by chance, they found a treasure. According to this rule, the owner of the property can confiscate the uncovered treasure without giving any share to the finders or trespassers. In most cases, treasure hunters are most likely the ones who are "intentionally trespassing" private properties. It is probably because the owner of the property forbid them from digging or they just want to retrieve the item only for themselves. However, if they got caught then the owner can report them to the authorities and get arrested for trespassing violation.

3. Any treasures found can be acquired by the State at their just price especially when it is for the purpose of science or arts.

Not all valuable treasures in the Philippines do originally belong to the Spaniards and Japanese Empire. Filipinos also do have their own treasures crafted by their own ancient ancestors which are more commonly referred as the "National Treasures". The Philippine Institution of Sciences and Arts is the government organization interested in buying such recovered precious items. You have to know that the possession of any objects considered as National Treasure is already good enough to put you in jail.

4. All hidden treasures such as money, jewelries and other precious objects do not have any lawful ownership.

The president or any other high-ranking military or government officials cannot claim that he or she owns any discovered hidden treasures but not unless, he or she is the one who found it.

I actually heard rumors that the authorities are using their power to confiscate treasures that are recovered by public individuals. This is wrong but you have to accept the fact that great amount of wealth can force a man to abuse his power. Thus, the best advice is to keep it to yourself or with your trusted friends, relatives and families as a secret.

Are Foreigners Allowed to Conduct Treasure Hunting in the Philippines?

In the past, all foreigners were allowed to conduct treasure hunting in the Philippines for "free" but not until Environmental Secretary Lito Atienza had issued a new government regulation on December 26, 2007. This regulation include prohibiting all foreigners from conducting treasure hunting activities in any regions of the Philippines. Only Filipino citizens are now allowed but they are off-limits from all sites with "cultural values".

Places with cultural values includes old churches, natural parks, Archeological sites, caves and all heritage sites.

Although, even with the implementation of the new government regulation about prohibiting all foreigners engaging in treasure hunting activities in the country, there are still a number of them doing it in full secrecy. Most of them are "financiers" consisting of Filipinos as their diggers. There actually many possible ways that foreigners can easily get away with the new regulation. But if they got caught, punishment can be an immediate deportation or worst is being banned from entering the Philippines again.

Northern Forest Of The Philippines

Moreover, if you are after some huge pile of hidden treasures then Philippines is a good choice to find them. And in order for you to succeed, you need to gain the necessary experience and knowledge in which I am willing to share on this treasure hunting blog.