The Yamashita school of thought (Part 2)

POINTILLISMS - Mike Acebedo Lopez (The Philippine Star) - July 14, 2012 - 12:00am

Some stories involving the billions the Marcoses allegedly stole make mention of a staggering 65 million metric tons of gold. But from our coffers? Seriously? One need not be a genius with superhuman deductive skills to be able to do the math and see that the Philippines didn’t have that much gold then, or now. If they stole that much gold or money, chances are, they would not have had enough resources left to invest in a tangible legacy of infrastructure projects no administration pre and post-Macoy has ever surpassed. In terms of infra programs, a considerable second placer would have to be the equally reviled Gloria Arroyo.

So where did it all come from? Enter the Yamashita school of thought. Some scholars, including personalities close to the Marcos family (those privy to their private affairs), suggest that much, if not most, of the purported wealth actually come from the fabled Yamashita treasure—a war loot so vast, it’s rumored to be the largest in the world.

One ‘proof’ of the treasure General Yamashita supposedly left in different parts of the country during World War II is a favorite Cebu landmark, standing proudly for over 30 years, looking over the Queen City from the rolling hills of Nivel. The Marco Polo Plaza Hotel (formerly known as the Cebu Plaza Hotel) is said to be one of the excavation sites for the Yamashita expeditions of the Marcos years.

It kind of makes sense: why would anyone build a high rise in that relatively obscure part of Cebu in the ‘70s, at a time when there were no high rises even in the uptown or downtown area? More curious is the chronology of events. The Cebu Plaza low rise broke ground in 1977 and opened in 1979. Even before it opened, the high rise (where Marco Polo is now) commenced construction in 1978 (one whole year before the low rise opened) and was completed in 1981; it opened the following year, in ’82.

The treasure was initially thought to have been buried where the low rise is, until they realized after all the digging that it’s actually on the site of the high rise, and that it was buried much deeper. So to justify the deep excavation, they had to build a high rise (hence, the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel or the Cebu Plaza Hotel for the old-schooled). Or so they say. The dates surrounding the groundbreaking, construction and completion of both the low rise and the high rise do lead credence to this hypothesis. I mean, what shrewd business person would construct a high rise, invest so much resource, even before your low rise is completed and open for business? How do you know that business in that area is truly commercially viable, enough to invest in a five-star high rise hotel?

Anyhow, I know most of this is mere conjecture, but the accounts do add up with most of the facts.

Around 4 years ago, I had the chance to scour over piles of documents at the second floor of Auntie Meldy’s penthouse apartment at the Fort. Many of these files were used as evidence in her ‘trial of the century’ in New York, the one where she was acquitted by a grand jury on charges of money laundering, fraud, racketeering, etc.

Marked “US Evidence” was a bank deposit under the name of her husband, the late Ferdinand Marcos, worth millions of dollars. It was deposited to one of the leading Swiss Banks in 1959. Marcos became president of the Republic in 1965, so this particular deposit was made six years before he became head of state.

According to some accounts, the brilliant lawyer Marcos was, apart from having started his career as the lawyer for the top mining firms, was also a passionate treasure hunter. A treasure hunter’s oath is said to be ‘finders keepers, losers weepers.’ Also, I read that people invest in gold because you don’t have to declare it or pay taxes (not sure if still holds true though).

Could it be that the ‘Marcos wealth’ was not at all stolen from the country, but is in fact, World War II loot? That his crime was not that he stole billions from Philippine coffers, but that he kept it from the whole world because of his treasure hunter’s oath? 

Rumor has it that in the ‘70s, Marcos invested in a minting facility so his gold can be smelted into gold bars that could be traded. He wanted to put a lean on the Philippine Peso so it’s backed up by gold. The US currency used to be backed up by gold, now it’s only backed up by American goodwill (‘laway lang ang puhunan’). Imelda’s fabulous and indiscreet $5 million shopping sprees gave away what many in the West were already suspecting: ‘Marcos found the Yamashita treasure and that son of a b*tch doesn’t plan to share! We were conned by our ally in the east!’

There is an entire book that involves Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission, the US Government, the CIA, Ninoy’s assassination vis-à-vis the ouster of Marcos and the People Power Revolution. Be careful what you read, but try Googling with an open mind.

All the possible twists and turns to the saga that’s both captivated and held us captive throughout the years is stuff Hollywood blockbusters are made of.

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Facebook: www.facebook.com/MikeAcebedoLopez

Twitter: @MykLopez

Email: mikelopez8888@aol.com

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