Ferdinand Marcos: Yamashita’s Gold

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Ferdinand Marcos: Yamashita’s Gold

Yamashita’s Gold

 

Ferdinand Marcos Family
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Yamashita’s Gold

 

IT WAS APPARENT to Tokyo by the summer of 1944 that an Allied invasion of the Philippines or Formosa was imminent. At Hollandia in New Guinea, a great fleet of American ships was assembling. To prepare for it, General Kuroda Shigenori was relieved of his command in the Philippines and replaced by the “Tiger of Malaya,” General Yamashita Tomoyuki (pronounced Ya-MASH-ta). He was a big man, heavyset, with a bull neck and a large, close-cropped head. A product of the Prussian-oriented military tradition in Japan, his face was kept expressionless and he appeared to be brutal and insensitive, but he was actually a moderate who had resisted the explosive growth of the Imperial Army, and the growing fanaticism of its officer corps. The son of a mild-mannered country doctor, Yamashita had not chosen a military career; it was his father’s idea. “I was big and healthy,” he said, “and my mother did not seriously object because she believed that I would never pass the highly competitive entrance examination.” He proved to be a brilliant commander, but his resistance to the ultranationalism of his fellow officers caused him serious trouble. In 1929 he supported an unpopular plan to reduce the size of the army by several divisions. As a consequence, he felt that his promotion to lieutenant general had been delayed for years. Yamashita resented the fanatical clique that had gathered around Tojo, and he was almost paranoid in his suspicion of their motives. And rightly so. Tojo had given him the difficult job of conquering the supposedly impregnable British bastion of Singapore, and if that did not destroy him, planned to have him assassinated as soon as Singapore surrendered. As it turned out, Singapore fell with catastrophic suddenness, and Yamashita’s lightning campaign and humiliation of the British raj made him a national hero. Instead of having him murdered, Tojo put him on ice, dispatching him to Manchuria to train troops. By calling out the Tiger of Malaya to defend the Philippines, Tokyo gave Yamashita the burden of what many suspected would be an exhaustive delaying action and ultimately a losing battle.

Yamashita arrived in the Philippines only on October 6, 1944, too late to alter the equation significantly. At almost the same moment, the vast Allied armada in New Guinea sailed for Leyte, manned by fifty thousand sailors. MacArthur was still smarting from the way in which he had been surprised, cut off at the knees, and unceremoniously booted out of the islands at the start of the war. This time, he was taking no chances. He had a quarter of a million soldiers and marines with him, many of them battle-hardened, while most of the twenty thousand Japanese troops garrisoned on Leyte had never before seen combat.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf, the biggest sea battle in history to that point, resulted in disastrous Japanese naval losses. The outcome was decided not by superior force or ingenuity but, as is often the case, by miscalculations and luck. Both sides blundered ludicrously. Outnumbering the Japanese by nearly ten to one, MacArthur was ultimately victorious ashore. As 1944 drew to a close, he prepared to invade Luzon.

It was impossible to defend Manila, Yamashita realized, so to spare it from pointless destruction he declared it an open city and withdrew his command to the mountains in the north, leaving only 3,750 security troops to maintain order in the city. Without consulting or informing Yamashita, Rear Admiral Iwabuchi Sanji, the commander of the Japanese naval district, then reoccupied Manila with 16,000 marines and sailors. He had orders from Vice Admiral Okochi Denshichi to destroy all port facilities and naval storehouses, but Admiral Iwabuchi also had his own urgent and sinister reason for taking matters into his own hands.

With the Japanese conquest of East and Southeast Asia had come loot beyond dreams. Gold and gems were confiscated from private citizens, churches, temples, monasteries, banks, corporations, and fallen governments — and from the gangster syndicates and black-money economies of each nation. After Korea and Manchuria, loot came from China, Indochina, Thailand, Burma, Malaya, Borneo, Singapore, the Philippines, and the Dutch East Indies; a vast hoard of jewelry, gems, gold Buddhas, bullion, public and personal treasure. Speculation over the years on the total worth of this war loot ranged up to 3 billion 1940s dollars — the equivalent of over $100 billion today. According to various postwar estimates, the amount of gold bullion alone was between 4,000 and 6,000 tons. These estimates were probably far too conservative, made at a time in the late 1940s when little was known and much was being covered up. We might arrive at a more accurate total if 6,000 tons was considered to be only the amount stolen or seized from legitimate sources including banks, adding to it a bigger sum in illicit or black gold, perhaps two or three times as much. What few people in the West grasped in the late 1940s was the amount of illicit funds, unreported assets, illegal earnings, criminal profits, black market proceeds, secret hoards of gems and precious metals, and other forms of black money that existed in Asia. After 1942, comparatively little of this loot actually reached Tokyo, perhaps less than a third. Most of it was thought to have gone no farther than the transshipment point of Manila, where its journey was interrupted by the war’s changing fortunes, and had to be hidden.

Since the war, it has all come to be known (inaccurately) as Yamashita’s Gold.

Although he seems to have had no direct knowledge of the great hoard, Yamashita was hardly an innocent. There were instances early in the war where he was involved indirectly in extorting large sums from vanquished populations. In Malaya, the Kempeitei preyed on the overseas Chinese community. Its leading members, including wealthy Lim Boon Keng and the Shaw Brothers, the motion picture producers, were coerced into setting up an Overseas Chinese Association, then forced to raise 50 million Malay dollars as a “gift” to Yamashita to atone for supporting China’s anti-Japanese efforts in the 1930s. Yamashita officially accepted their offering on June 25, 1942, in the name of the emperor. Soon afterward, he was reassigned to Manchuria.

Another documented example of how the Kempeitei helped itself was the seizure of 780 million piastres from the Indonesia Bank of Indochina in March 1945. To provide a sense of scale, it would have taken a middle-class bureaucrat in Saigon a million years to earn such a sum.

While the Kempeitei took over the Asian opium and heroin trade, the Imperial Army set up gambling establishments and lotteries throughout the conquered countries, and encouraged wealthy collaborators to lose fortunes. Because of the traditional contempt for paper money in the Orient, Japanese officers personally required payment in precious metals and gems.

Part of the treasure was Philippine government bullion. Manuel Roxas had been left in charge of sinking the government reserves, but apparently was not successful in keeping the locations secret.

Officially acknowledged war prizes and booty had to be shipped back to the Home Islands by sea along the route of conquest; they could not be sent by land because Japan did not control an overland route through China to Southeast Asia until mid-1944. Theoretically, these shipments eventually would reach Tokyo, to sweeten and replenish the Imperial treasury. However, there were two good reasons why little booty reached Japan. One was the American submarine campaign, armed with effective new torpedoes, which cut the sealanes abruptly before the end of 1943. Despite this, the Japanese used every opportunity and subterfuge to get the loot to Japan. Even at the end of the war they were still resorting to deception to ship home treasure rather than abandon it. Under Allied guarantees, the cargo vessel Awa Maru made three mercy missions to Southeast Asia at the end of the war to pick up Japanese war prisoners, before it was accidentally torpedoed by the U.S. submarine Queen Fish, on April 1, 1945. The Awa Maru went to the bottom of Formosa Strait, 14 miles off the Chinese mainland with 2,007 souls and at least $500 million worth of war loot hidden aboard.

The other reason the treasure failed to reach home was the Japanese criminal underworld, and the immensely clever and powerful people who were its patrons. Although small portions of the treasure may have been hidden in each of the conquered countries by the field commanders who seized it, or by rogue agents of the Kempeitei, the great bulk of it appears eventually to have come under the control of senior Imperial Navy officers and was conveyed by them to Manila by sea. Keeping it secret was easy. The navy, the air force, the army, and the Kempeitei were full of factions, personality cults, and cells of secret societies readymade for such conspiracies. The most powerful of these were the ultraright Black Dragon Society, the Cherry Blossom Society, and their underworld equivalent, the Yakuza (pronounced YAK-cuz-ah).

In the late nineteenth century, when ultranationalism first swept Japan, a man named Toyama Mitsuru took part in uprisings against the new Meiji government and was jailed. On his release, he founded the paramilitary Dark Ocean Society (a name with profound Zen mystical connotations), pledged to revere the emperor, love and respect the nation, and defend the people’s rights. Through blackmail, extortion, terror, and assassination, the Dark Ocean Society gained extraordinary influence over the army and bureaucracy. It provided bodyguards for officials, thugs for political bosses, zealots for the armed forces, and spies for foreign subversion. Its members practiced the martial arts, and the most adept became ninja assassins. The Dark Ocean Society and its successor, the Black Dragon Society, provided the core of Japan’s pre-World War II secret service, who were sent abroad to prepare the way for the conquest of Korea, Manchuria, and northern China. The ultranationalism of Toyama and his followers became the driving force in Japanese politics and conspiracy their way of life. He inspired the growth of hundreds of other secret societies with names like Loyalist Sincerity Group, Blood Pledge Corps, and Association for Heavenly Action, supported by wealthy patrons and financing operations through gambling, prostitution, protection rackets, blackmail, extortion, strikebreaking, and labor control, activities that brought them into close contact and partnership with the Yakuza.

The word yakuza refers to the lowest score in a card game. Yakuza see themselves as society’s losers — gamblers, thieves, outcasts, and petty criminals. During the civil wars of the seventeenth century, when unemployed Samurai called ronin terrorized the peasantry, they were driven off by local toughs in the manner immortalized by the Kurosawa film Seven Samurai and its Western version, The Magnificent Seven. The modern Yakuza like to trace their origins to these roots, although the connection is fanciful. Like the Corsican and Sicilian underworlds, the Yakuza began as families involved in criminal activities. They expanded gradually through adoption, in a manner similar to the triads of China and the compadre system of the Philippines. Some Yakuza are conspicuous because their rituals include slicing off the top joint of the little finger in penitence and covering the body with tattoos. Just as Lucky Luciano brought the New York waterfront under Mafia control in the 1930s and played bash-the-Bolshies for the FBI on the eve of World War II, along Japanese docks the Yakuza organized longshoremen for grand larceny and far-right politics, and went into partnership with navy commanders and the secret service. Kobe’s longshoremen became the biggest Yakuza syndicate in Japan, the Yamaguchi Gumi.

Just before World War II, Toyama’s lieutenant Uchida Ryohei founded the Black Dragon Society, the offspring of the Dark Ocean, which dominated the Kempeitei during the war and led the struggle to expel Bolshevism, democracy, capitalism, and Westerners from Asia. The looting of East and Southeast Asia brought the Black Dragons and the Yakuza together. The interests of the political right and the underworld fused.

Most of the Yakuza’s wealthy patrons were more interested in money than in politics — militant Fascism was a natural ally of extortion. From 1931 to 1945, they made huge fortunes trading in the black market, which they secured in diamonds, gold, and platinum. As the Kempeitei and the Imperial Army took over the opium trade in Manchuria in the 1930s, a drug cartel was established in collaboration with the Shanghai Green Gang and other Chinese underworld syndicates tied to the regime of Generalissimo Chiang. The Japanese Army, aided by this underworld cartel, made $300 million a year in the Manchurian drug trade alone; over a decade, this came to $3 billion (1940 dollars), most of it secured in gold. This was an amount equal, in other words, to the early estimates of the size of Yamashita’s Gold, and demonstrates how much black money really was in circulation.

In Asia, gold smuggling and narcotics have been the foundation of wealth for centuries. During the Pacific War, although thousands were starving, foods, medicines, and most luxury items could be purchased readily on the black market, if you could pay in gold. A flourishing trade in precious metals continued throughout the war, run by Chinese syndicates under Japanese control.

Yamashita’s Gold was not merely the military’s booty; it was the accumulated overseas loot for more than a decade of conquest of the entire Japanese establishment. As the war reached a climax, hiding this huge treasure became a matter of urgency to senior Japanese navy officers in Manila who were responsible for its security and its shipment homeward. Beginning in late 1943, some of the loot apparently was taken in truck convoys to the mountains, near the Benguet mines in Baguio, where it was hidden in tunnels or caves and sealed with concrete, and to other areas outside Manila, where it was buried in deep pits. Other quantities were sunk on coral reefs blasted open for that purpose, and then corked with coral and concrete. There were grisly stories about Allied prisoners — mostly Britons, Australians, Americans, and Filipinos — being forced to dig these pits and tunnels during 1943 and 1944, only to be buried alive. They would never reveal the location, and their spirits would guard the treasure. Not to leave matters to chance, Japanese engineers rigged elaborate booby traps at each site, including fully armed 1,000- and 2,000-pound bombs, so that safe access to the treasure could be gained only if an excavator followed precise technical instructions described on secret maps. As a final precaution, the maps were inscribed in an ancient and esoteric Japanese script.

Most people assumed all this was just legend, but certain elements of the legend were bizarre enough to be persuasive, such as the deliberate sinking of various ships loaded with treasure, including the Japanese cruiser Nachi, sunk in Manila Bay. The story goes that late in 1944 the Nachi was loaded with 100 tons of bullion and prepared to sail home. Before she got out of Manila Bay, a Japanese submarine lying in wait sank her in a previously calculated spot. Nearly a thousand Japanese sailors went down with the Nachi. Those who came to the surface were said to have been machine-gunned by sailors on the sub so that no witnesses would survive.

As the story came out of Manila many years after the war, this sinking of the Nachi and others, and many of the treasure burials, were in fact witnessed by two young men of dual Japanese-Filipino nationality — Leopoldo “Paul” Jiga and Benjamin Balmores. Paul said he was twenty-three when the war started, born in Manila, the son of a Japanese father and Filipino mother. When the Imperial Army occupied the Philippines, he said his father was pressed to work as an aide and translator to a Japanese general (sometimes he said admiral). Paul became the general’s houseboy, valet, and interpreter. This particular general, he said, was the senior officer in charge of burying the war treasure. Because of his job waiting on the general hand and foot, Paul said he was personally present when the treasure was buried at a number of sites, onshore and offshore. From what he observed, the treasure was buried under Japanese Army supervision by teams of POWs, all of whom were then shot or buried alive in the pits and tunnels. At offshore sites, their bodies were dumped in the water for disposal by sharks. Paul said he was an eyewitness when the Nachi was sunk.

Ben Balmores told a similar story. He also was a dual national. Employed as an interpreter, spy, and scout, he had observed the Japanese beheading or burying alive thousands of prisoners of war, atrocities that he said nauseated him when he thought about it. The Japanese had used the Spanish dungeon at Fort Santiago to contain prisoners, and these prisoners were forced to dig miles of tunnels beneath the grounds of the fort. When part of the treasure was hidden there, he said, the POWs were sealed inside, dying either of starvation or suffocation. At the town of Teresa outside Manila there were two treasure chambers deep underground where Paul and Ben said they had witnessed twelve hundred Australians and Americans buried alive. The secret treasure maps, they said, were kept in the headquarters of the Japanese high command in Manila until Yamashita pulled out of the city.

*

Since mid-December 1944, when his puppet government moved to the mountains, Jose Laurel and his colleagues had been operating from General Yamashita’s new headquarters at Baguio.

Yamashita had 170,000 troops on Luzon, many of them seasoned. Most withdrew with him to the north, but other units took up positions in the mountains to the city’s east, northeast, and northwest. Yamashita’s job was to delay MacArthur, to deny his use of airfields in northern Luzon in support of a forthcoming U.S. attack on Okinawa, and to kill as many Americans as possible.

When MacArthur invaded Luzon in January 1945, on the Lingayen Gulf north of Manila, the same landing point that the Japanese had chosen three years earlier, he had the option of bypassing Manila, leaving it an open city as Yamashita had chosen to do, and concentrating his attack on Yamashita’s army in the mountains. Tragically, MacArthur insisted upon advancing directly on Manila. Although General Willoughby had grossly underestimated the strength of the Japanese, MacArthur imagined that Yamashita’s abandonment of Manila gave him a golden opportunity to seize it quickly and stage a triumphal entry like de Gaulle in Paris. He directed the XIV Corps to drive on to Manila immediately. General Walter Krueger figured that MacArthur wanted to be in Manila by his birthday, January 26. MacArthur’s move blocked the withdrawal from Manila of Admiral Iwabuchi’s sixteen thousand sailors and marines. Cut off and stranded without ships, they were unable to escape either by sea or overland. Given the Japanese abhorrence of surrender, they had no choice but to stage a suicidal fight. Against Yamashita’s specific order, they panicked and turned Manila into a battlefield, fighting house-to-house, committing atrocities on the city’s inhabitants that rank among the great crimes of the war. One hundred thousand Filipinos, sixteen thousand Japanese, and one thousand Americans died in the carnage. Manila was 80 percent destroyed. Only Warsaw suffered more. Of the one hundred thousand Filipinos murdered, many of the women were first raped, pregnant women disemboweled, the men sexually mutilated, and infants had their eyes gouged out and their brains dashed against walls.

Even before this slaughter ended, MacArthur celebrated his triumph at a gathering in Malacanang Palace on February 27. Manuel Quezon had died of tuberculosis in America. While fighting continued in other parts of the city, MacArthur conveyed to the new president, Sergio Osmeña, the formal responsibility for governing the restored commonwealth. MacArthur pronounced that Manila, “cruelly punished though it be, has regained its rightful place — Citadel of Democracy in the East.”

William Manchester characterized MacArthur’s campaign on Luzon as “the achievements of a great strategist,” and speculated about “what would have happened had MacArthur, not Mark Clark, been the U.S. commander in Italy.” It is not a happy thought.

While fighting continued in Manila, MacArthur ordered General Eichelberger’s Eighth Army to begin the liberation of all the remaining islands of the archipelago. Seizure of these islands was of little importance for the defeat of Japan. Military historians regard it as a pointless campaign. MacArthur assigned five full divisions to do the job, leaving Krueger’s Sixth Army badly depleted as it confronted Yamashita’s main force in the mountains. However, MacArthur wished to be remembered as the liberator of all the islands, and his employment of the Eighth Army, the Eleventh Air Force, and much of the Seventh Fleet in the southern archipelago kept these valuable assets under his command. His vanity played into Yamashita’s hands.

At first Yamashita planned to hold the airfields in the Cagayan Valley, and to retain the northern port of Aparri, through which he hoped to be relieved by the arrival of additional Japanese forces, although the hope was remote.

He held out in Baguio as long as he could. Then he led sixty-five thousand troops into the mountainous area between Routes 4 and 11, a last-ditch redoubt that became known as the Kiangan Pocket. Just before Yamashita’s staff left Baguio, the trusted houseboys Paul and Ben said they walked into headquarters (where they always had the run of the place) and stole the master treasure maps. They said they did not have any definite plan to recover the gold themselves because the Japanese had made each site too intricate with booby traps for casual retrieval. It would take teams of men and equipment, not to mention lots of money and engineering skill, to circumvent the booby traps and to find the precise locations. But somehow the maps would be valuable.

*

One month before the American landings on Luzon, Captain Hunt released Ferdinand “to the winds.” Instead of returning to Manila or to any of his other usual haunts, he inexplicably headed north to join one of Colonel Volckmann’s guerrilla organizations, the 14th Infantry under Major Manriquez in Mountain Province. He told so many tall tales about his exploits during this period that it is impossible to be certain of his motive. In Gray’s biography Marcos claimed that the American guerrilla command sentenced him to death but he was saved when a senior Filipino guerrilla interceded and the death sentence was countermanded by radio. Captain Hunt told me that no such death sentence was ever received by him or by Major Lapham, whose commands were completely independent, and that Marcos “took it upon himself’ to go north.

One possible explanation is that Ferdinand’s friends warned him not to head west because Major Barnett had arrested Mariano Marcos, and Barnett’s unit included many Nalundasan partisans who were itching to get their hands on Ferdinand as well.

By early January 1945, Yamashita’s troops were beginning to move up toward the 14th Infantry, blocking all routes south. Ferdinand was no longer a prisoner, but he was unable to leave. He was reinstated on U.S. Army roles as a third lieutenant, and Major Manriquez assigned him to a clerical job as S-5 in charge of civil affairs. From December 1944 till mid-April 1945, when Ferdinand requested transfer for personal reasons to Volckmann’s headquarters at Luna, La Union, Manriquez insisted that Marcos was only a clerk and was never involved on patrol or in combat operations, which was confirmed by Captain Vicente Rivera of the 14th. Yet many years after the war, when Ferdinand was a politician angling for the presidency, he was awarded a number of medals for awesome and virtually single-handed combat exploits in the closing months of the war. During state visits to America as president of the Philippines, he was commended for these phony exploits by three presidents of the United States and was given a specially mounted display of his undeserved U.S. medals by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. All three presidents and Weinberger had knowledge that the truth of Marcos’s heroic war record was widely questioned. Their decision to endorse his fraud makes it important to give Ferdinand’s final wartime adventures a brief summary. It was also during this period that he showed his first interest in Yamashita’s Gold.

On March 19, Tokyo ordered that President Laurel be flown to Japan to establish a government-in-exile. Three days later, Laurel and other leading collaborators, among them Benigno Aquino of the Kalibapi party, left Baguio secretly. The rest of the puppet government, including Manuel Roxas, remained behind.

Ferdinand’s biographers all assert that he led an assault and demolition team to an unguarded section of road near Baguio, and mined it for half a mile. A dozen cars came down the road, one carrying President Laurel. Through binoculars, Ferdinand recognized Laurel and General Capinpin. He waited till their car passed, then fired his charges. All the Japanese in the convoy were killed.

As it actually happened, “Doy” Laurel was with his father on the journey. According to him, it was a tiresome and uneventful trip until the afternoon of March 28. Then, with the Japanese airfield at Tuguergarao only 27 kilometers away, their trucks (not cars) were set upon by guerrillas. “Behind us, we heard the burst of machine-gun fire … We ducked, seeking hollows in the ground … Taking the offensive, our escorts finally drove away the attackers with a continuous barrage of machine-gun fire. Ten minutes later we were told to go back to our trucks.” (Tuguergarao is over 100 kilometers from the area where Marcos said the incident took place.)

The next weeks were very busy. Ferdinand met an American demolition expert, Captain Donald Jamison, who was landed by submarine. They became close friends, and in later years Jamison filed numerous affidavits describing Ferdinand’s heroic missions: “From January to early March, 1945, under Major Marcos’ leadership and personal direction, we discharged our mission of demolishing bridges, roads and other man-made obstacles.” (Ferdinand’s rank was still third lieutenant.) Sergeant Larry Guzman, an American who accompanied Jamison, said that in the middle of March 1945 the command post of the 14th HQ came under siege. “Marcos, though ill at the infirmary, left his sick bed and engaged the enemy in a running gun battle.” Among several decorations for this action, Ferdinand received the Distinguished Conduct Star, for courage and gallantry in single-handedly holding at bay and later pursuing an enemy patrol.

A different story is told by Captain Rivera, who was the officer in charge of security at 14th HQ on March 17. Ferdinand was Officer of the Day, which involved checking guards posted around the camp. That evening, before he left for duty around the perimeter, he asked for food. Sergeant Sofronio La Rosa killed a small chicken, roasted it, and gave him half. At three in the morning, the camp was awakened by bursts of gunfire from a Thompson submachine gun. Everyone took cover in a nearby creek while the executive officer went to investigate. On his return, the exec reported that Marcos had fired at rustling leaves thinking Japanese snipers were lurking behind them. The only other time Ferdinand fired a gun, Rivera recalled, was when he was issued the Thompson and fired to test it. Verdict: Indigestion.

Three weeks after this “Battle of the Drumstick,” Yamashita abandoned Baguio and led his army to the Kiangan Pocket for the showdown. Okinawa had been lost, so there was no point in continuing to hold airfields or ports. On April 5, Ferdinand claimed that he and an enlisted man were patrolling an area near 14th HQ when he saw camouflaged enemy trucks approaching with a large body of hostile troops. He sent the enlisted man back to report while he posted himself at a vantage point. When the enemy vanguard came within 15 yards, Ferdinand opened fire with his Thompson and inflicted heavy casualties, forcing the Japanese to withdraw. He was wounded in the thigh, he said, and had to cut the bullet out. Then he pursued the Japanese two kilometers down the trail before reinforcements caught up. For this remarkable action, Ferdinand claimed he was awarded a second U.S. Silver Star.

On another occasion, he literally tumbled onto some of Yamashita’s Gold. Ferdinand claimed he was leading a patrol in Kayapa, a mountainous district of Nueva Vizcaya. There he encountered a Japanese patrol of twenty men. Following them, he was led north toward the Ifugao rice terraces. One Japanese soldier was lagging because his pack was too heavy. Ferdinand raised his rifle and picked off the straggler. As he went forward to reach for the dead man’s pack, a bullet struck him in the back, and he pitched down the mountain clinging to the pack. The wound was superficial, but the pack contained three gold bars.

There is no evidence that Ferdinand was anywhere near the rice terraces in the closing months of the war, but there is lots of evidence that he found some of Yamashita’s Gold.

In mid-April, Ferdinand learned that his father Mariano Marcos, after months as a prisoner of Major Barnett, had been tried for war crimes and executed. It was not a simple execution. Barnett’s guerrillas — friends of Nalundasan — after interrogating Mariano and confirming that he had worked for the Japanese throughout the war, executed him by tying him to four carabao water buffaloes, which tore him limb from limb. They hung the pieces in a tree.

Burdened by this news, Ferdinand requested transfer to Volckmann’s headquarters in La Union at the end of April 1945. He said he went looking for Mariano’s remains but did not find them. He always told people that his father had been executed by the Japanese.

General Yamashita remained in the Kiangan Pocket for months, fighting an impressive and ultimately futile rearguard action. No force was sent to relieve him. Kiangan itself was captured in July 1945, after some of the harshest mountain fighting ever. During the last month, the Americans advanced only three miles. Yamashita was neither captured nor defeated. On August 15, 1945, after Japan itself surrendered, Yamashita surrendered. Ferdinand always claimed that he was the one who accepted Yamashita’s surrender. In a way he did. Years after the war, a friend offered him as a gift a photostatic reproduction of the original surrender document, and he accepted it.

 

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