Prince Chichibu had moved his Headquarters to Manila in the Philippines. He had entrusted his younger brother Prince Mikasa and his cousin Prince Asaka to continue the collection of the treasures. Before he left he had begun to cut up the many golden pagodas and Buddhas which were being melted down and poured into 75 kilo bars. This amassing of the treasures would continue until Japan ultimately surrendered.
Prince Chichibu was now faced with new challenges. Where and how to hide the treasures so that they could not be accidentally discovered after the war. The Prince was not as certain as his brother, the Emperor, that Japan would end up with the Philippine Islands following their defeat. He decided that these treasures would have to be hidden in deep, well engineered tunnel systems. He had no experience in mining and basically that was what was going to be required.
Major Nakasone was the only member of the Golden Lily team who had any mining background. He had studied mining engineering but never had any on the job training. He sent for him anyway. In the meantime he askedThe Emperor for help and he responded by having someone locate twenty experience men in underground excavation in Japan who were quickly sent to the Philippines. If the Prince needed more workers, he would have to get them from the Filipinos. In addition the Emperor had remindedChichibu that the POWs of the Americans and the British contained a lot of engineering experts especially those who served in the constructionbattalions.
Manpower was the least of his problems. There were thousands of POWs who the Japanese considered expendable. If that wasn't enough then there were millions of Filipino males that could be used. As soon as hereceived his experts he immediately began work in a dozen locations. While this was going on the treasure ships were arriving weekly and their precious cargo had been added to the other treasure already stored in heavily guarded warehouses. There were other problems; the movementof the cargo from the ships to the warehouses attracted a lot of attention. Chichibu decided to construct an underground tunnel system from the piers to the warehouses which were in the capture American base named Fort McKinley. Eventually this tunnel would branch out under Manila and run for 35 miles. The entrance was in Intermuras, the ancient walled city of the Spaniards, which was near the docks. It terminated at MacArthur's headquarters in Fort McKinley.
Prince Chichibu had to make some other major decisions. Why not hide all the treasure in one large location? The Emperor had answered that question. Security!!! Too many people who had worked on the location would know where it was, also if someone should accidentally find the location all would be lost. Early on the Prince had made the decision that except for a few foreign engineers the entire work force would have to be exterminated. The next question was where could this work be done where the local population would not be aware of what was going on there. Japanese military bases were perfect. Only the military had access to them and most bases had POW camps nearby. Prince Chichibu visualized that when the Americans returned to recapture the Philippines that there would be massive bombings. The map makers needed permanent landmarks in order to relocate these sites after the war. The Americans had shown in Europe that they would avoid bombing historical buildings. The four hundred year old historical Spanish Churches and fortifications were perfect. But just to make sure he would house American POWs in them. Mainly women and children. He would then arrange for clear radio communications to announce this fact. It worked, the Americans spared these sites.
Major Nakasone was at Fort Santiago, a 16th century Spanish fortification, collecting slave labors from the Kempeitai Headquarter's dungeons and torture chambers. One of the physically strong Filipino's he selected was Leopoldo Giga. Nakasone knew a Colonel Kantaro Giga who was one of his instructors at the military academy. Out of curiosity he decided to personally interview Giga. He found him an intelligent, 28 year old, who spoke fluent Japanese. He also learned he was a nephew of his academy instructor. Giga's father was the brother of the instructor who was a minor diplomat who had been attached to the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines 1913. Giga's mother had met the Diplomat and had become his common-law wife. Another advantage that Nakasone found in Giga was that he spoke two of the main dialects of the Filipino people. Instead of making him a slave laborer he assigned him to his staff. Giga came to the attention of Prince Chichibu who had him commissioned as a sub-lieutenant in the Imperial Army. He was sent to Japan to attend schooling on tunneling and inventorying the treasure. He returned a Captain and worked on most of the treasure sites.
Prince Chichibu was in Nueva Vizcaya in early 1942. He was examining a major excavation outside of the town of Bambang. He and his staff had a young Filipino boy who had come down with a fever and had died. He had been a houseboy who did the laundry of the Prince and his staff as well as kept their boots and other equipment cleaned and polished. He sent his aide out to locate a replacement. The Aide came back with a 14 year old uneducated farm boy whose name was Benjamin Valmores. During the next three and a half years Valmores traveled with the Prince to many of the sites. He learned Japanese and a smattering of English. He was never allowed to go down into the tunnels, but he watched them being constructed and filled with the treasures. He and Giga would survive the war.
As the war reached its inevitable climax in early 1945 the Japanese were receiving more treasure than they could prepare sites for in which to hide it. Their warships became useless due to the American air- superiority, so they loaded them with these newly arrived treasures and pretended they were being sent back to Japan. Instead the Japanese deliberately sank or scuttled these ships and machine-gunned their own men so that the ships would go down in predetermined locations and no witnesses would be alive to to tell the tale. There were thirteen of these planned sinkings. Some of these went down in Manila Bay; others were sunk in not to deep Philippine Waters throughout the archipelago.
The bloody war was over. The hopes of Emperor Hirohito and others to force the Americans to agree to a treaty that would allow Japan to keep some of the lands they had taken by conquest had been shattered. Theyhad planned the final battle that they were certain would cause the Americans over a million casualties when they invaded the Japanese home islands. The two atomic bombs and Russia's invasion of Manchuria in an attempt to annex some of Japan's conquered lands had cause the Emperor to agree to an unconditional surrender. Now the conquerors wanted to bring to justice those who were responsible for the many atrocities. Over 4000 war criminals were charged. Of these 2400 received a prison sentence of three years or more and 809 were ultimately hung.
General Yamashita was put on trial for war crimes on October 29, 1945. General MacArthur organized this "trial" if anyone could call it a trial. It was a kangaroo court and the verdict to hang Yamashita was the worst American travesty of justice. Yamashita was not guilty of any of the charges brought against him. This was widely known at the time of the trail and history has since vindicated the General who was known as The Tiger of Malaya. In spite of this he was hung on February 23, 1946. The U.S. Supreme Court had reviewed the case and shamelessly approved the kangaroo's court verdict.
Historians have excused MacArthur's actions by saying that Yamashita had embarrassed him by putting up a vigorous defense of the Philippines and didn't surrender until the Emperor had ordered him to do so. They also justify his action as trying to rejuvenate the image of Emperor Hirohito who he felt was needed in order to put through the reforms he had envisioned for Japan. Both of these reasons were probably true, but MacArthur learned after the trial that the Yamashita verdict was a mistake.
The OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of today's CIA) had been interviewing all of the Japanese Pows. One of the operatives was Severino Santa Romana. A Filipino who spoke Japanese. He had interrogated Major Kijomi Kashii who had been General Yamashita's personal driver. In tracing Yamashita's movements, the Major recounted having taken him to several locations where massive underground excavations were taking place. While the General was touring the site he learned from a Captain of the security force that the excavation was not a fortification but a secret depository for treasures collected in other conquered lands. This was the first time the Americans had any hint of these secret locations.
Santa Romana had the Major carefully draw the exact locations of these two sites. He also arranged to keep the Major from other POW's so he could extract further information. He notified his superior who thought the information was important enough to send a written report to OSS Headquarters in Washington, DC. The report crossed the desk of William Donavan, known as "Wild Bill" who was the Director of the OSS. Donavan found the report intriguing and cabled Santa Romana's superior requesting that he be sent out to the two sites and personally inspect them. Santa Romana did as ordered only to find out that the maps were not accurate. There were no signs of any excavations. Had the Major lied? He rushed back to confront him, but when he got to the prison he found that the Major had committed suicide with a butter knife he had stolen from the prisoners mess hall. He quickly notified Washington.
Donavan was not prepared to dismiss the report as false. There was another witness, General Yamashita who was awaiting the review of the Supreme Court. He had discussed this with the President, Harry Truman, and had been ordered to send the information to General MacArthur with a suggestion that the General look into it. MacArthur didn't believe the report and ordered one of his aides to pick up Santa Romana and go interview Yamashita personally. When confronted with the question the wily General just smiled. When MacArthur learned this he changed his mind. Perhaps there was something to this after all. But, how to get Yamashita to talk? He was about to be hung and MacArthur wasn't one of his favorite people.
MacArthur knew that the only way Yamashita would talk would be if he was ordered to do so by his Emperor. MacArthur's headquarters was now in Tokyo so the General decided to put the question to Hirohito. At first Hirohito pretended he didn't know what MacArthur was talking about. Then he thought about it and decided that Yamashita knew very little about the activities of the Golden Lily team, and if he did know about two sites, why not tell MacArthur. With the loss of two sites he might gain some concessions. He might be able to save Yamashita and at the same time negotiate some of the wealth for Japan. He wrote a letter which was hand-delivered to the imprisoned General asking him to cooperate. The more the Emperor thought about it, the better the plan looked. For one
thing it would signify that there were only two sites where this treasure was stored should that question ever come up. He knew there were 172 major sites in the Philippines. He rationalized that the loss
of two of these sites would be insignificant, especially if he could gain some other advantages.
General Yamashita received the personal letter from the Emperor. He was torn between duty and using this situation to obtain a reprieve of his death sentence. He advised Santa Romana and MacArthur's aide that washis decision. The aide lied to Yamashita by saying that MacArthur did
not have the authority to commute the sentence, but that he might agree to sharing some of this wealth with Yamashita's family so that they would live comfortably after he was gone. Sensing that was all he wasgoing to get he said he would cooperate only if the Emperor assured him he had that agreement in writing.
While this was going on MacArthur was getting pressure from the Emperor who was now asking for 50% of the treasure. Japan's cities were in ruins and this money would help rebuild them. MacArthur sent both requests to Donovan who discussed it with the President. At this point no one knew if the treasures even existed or how much was in the two sites, if it were true. Truman was deeply involved with many problems in Europe caused by the Russians. He flipped the matter back to Donovan and told him: "You handle it." With Truman's seemingly indifference, Donovan rejected the Emperor's request and cut his percentage to 20%. He told MacArthur to have the OSS take possession of the remaining 80% and they would decided what to do with it later. Donovan promptly forgot about it. MacArthur did not forget and these chapters will explain how it was finally divided. Under Santa Romana's direction both treasure sites were found and after two years of digging, billions of dollars in gold were removed. The sites were real all right. This would greatly affect future events.
Ferdinand Marcos was born on September 9, 1917 in Sarrat, Illocos Norte. His father, Mariano Marcos, had been a provincial Congressman since the 1920's. Ferdinand entered law school in 1935. That same year a bitter political rival of his father was murdered. The young Marcos and his uncle Pio Marcos were the prime suspects. Three years after the murder Ferdy as he was called and his uncle were arrested and charged with the murder. Pio got off, but Ferdinand was convicted for the murder. Because of his young age he was only given a 10 year prison term. After a year in prison where he finished his studies he passed the bar examination. He was an attorney. For some unexplained reason President Quezon issued a pardon for Marcos. Also, for some unknown reason Marcos refused it. Instead he wrote his own appeal to the Supreme Court. He admitted that he did shoot the political foe of his father but now claimed it was self-defense.
The dead politician had been shot in the back through a window in his house late at night. He was hardly a threat to Ferdinand. Still in late 1940 the Philippine Supreme Court reversed the conviction supportingMarcos's claim that it was self-defense. Marcos was released from prison. Obviously the fix was in at the highest level. He then opened his law practice in Laoag near his home. In April 1945 with General Yamashita and his troops retreating to the northern highlands of Luzon, Mariano Marcos, Ferdinand's father was arrested by American-ledGuerrillas. He was convicted as a Japanese collaborator and executed in a bizarre manner. He was tied to four carabaos (large water buffaloes) which literally tore him limb from limb. The pieces were hung in a tree to rot.
In later years Marcos would cause various writers to portray him as the greatest Philippine war hero. In reality there is ample evidence to prove that he, like his father, was a "makapili", a collaborator workingfor Colonel Arika, the Kempeitai Commander in Manila. He was also a black marketeer. Just before the war was over Ferdinand was arrested for operating a black market. He talked his way out of jail by claiming he was raising money for the Guerrillas. After his release the Guerrilla headquarters claimed he was not working for them and ordered his execution. By then he was hiding out up north and was never brought to justice.
One of the stories that Marcos liked to tell was that while he was on a one man patrol for the Americans he ran across a Japanese patrol which he attacked and singlehanded killed with his rifle and bolo. He was supposedly shot in the leg and pried the bullet out with his knife. While looking in the Japanese pack mule for something to bandage his wound with he found three gold bars. The bars were too heavy to carry with his wounded leg so he buried them by a tree and clearly marked the tree so he could return to claim them. Was this true? There was no evidence of this new found wealth immediately following the war. He became a struggling attorney.
Marcos, like his father, won a seat in Congress from the same district in 1950. He had kept his law office in Ilocos Norte and when not in Manila he would take a few cases to keep in touch with his voters. In the spring of 1952 two laborers came to him and asked his help in collecting their pay from two ex-Imperial Army veterans. They claimed they were hired to dig a deep pit near the old military base and had uncovered a lot of gold bars. Instead of paying them the Japanese had run them off at gun point. Marcos went with them and they sneaked up on the excavation. Marcos saw the two Japanese hauling gold bars up from the pit and struggling to load them on the back of a truck. Marcos toldthe laborers to wait there while he went to get help. Marcos returned within an hour with two men. All three were armed with rifles and hand guns. Without fanfare the three armed men took up positions and on command shot and killed the two Japanese and two other Filipinos who were in their camp. Then without flinching they shot the two laborers.
Marcos and his two friends removed the rest of the gold bars from the pit and finished loading them on the truck. The total weight of the bars was over two tons. The truck sagged on its springs. He then had his friends collect the bodies and drop them down the pit. The rest of the day was spent by the three men filling the pit in order to hide bodies. When it was about a meter from the top Marcos dispatched his two friends with a hand gun and rolled them into the pit. He finished filling the pit and cut down branches which he spread around to hide the activity. Marcos now knew these treasure rumors were true. It was the beginning of his nearly forty-year quest for the rest of the treasure. A year laterMarcos married Imelda Romualdez and thus was formed the beginning of the conjugal dictatorship.
During the next five years Marcos would discreetly ask Japanese businessmen and politicians about the treasure "rumors". They all denied having any knowledge. President Quirino had fanned these rumors byemploying an American-born Japanese whose name was Minoru Fukumitsu.Fukumitsu who had interviewed many of the war criminals after the war claimed he had obtained a map which showed a major treasure site. Quirino had him dig a number of sites but he came up with nothing. Yearslater the truth of these digs would come out. The Philippine newspapers at the time made a big joke out of the whole thing. Marcos befriended Fukumitsu. It was the beginning of a long relationship.
In 1965 Marcos using gold, guns, and goons won the election and becamethe President of the Philippines. Now he had the resources of the entire Country that he could use in his quest for more of the treasure. Another event that greatly affected him was to learn that Imelda's biological father was supposed to be Severino Santa Romana, the same OSS operative who worked with Yamashita. Santa Romana would later share the information of the earlier successes with him and eventually disclose where that treasure was still being stored.
In 1969, having sent one of his military officers to Tokyo he learned there was a large treasure site under the main flag pole of Camp Aquinaldo. The Camp had been a headquarters of the Kempeitai during theoccupation. Using his Presidential Security force and other soldiers heexcavated the site. Before the end of the year he was able to recover over two thousand metric tons of gold and a lot of precious stones. He was a very wealthy man. He and Imelda flaunted that fact and in 1970 Cosmopolitan Magazine wrote an article saying he was the wealthiest man in Asia. The outcry that followed caused him to admit to the press that he was a very wealthy man because he had recovered "Yamashita's" treasure. In truth Yamashita had nothing to do with it.
Marcos would later regret that admission. He immediately suppressed the newspaper stories and stopped the story from going out on the news services. Even so it was leaked and he was beset with the claims of many countries that were the victims of the Japanese. The World Court in 1945 had passed a law that any stolen war treasures would be returned to the countries they were stolen from. This moratorium would not expire until 1985. Turning this gold into cash became a tremendous problem. It would haunt him for the next twenty years.
In late 1974 Marcos was in Cancun, Mexico attending a Developing Nations meeting. During a break he was talking to the President of Costa Rica, Jose Figueroa, about the development of mining in their countries. Figueroa told Marcos that he had been trying to get a Nevada miner to set up a refinery in his country, but the miner refused all of his offers. He gave Marcos the name of Jack Carter and told him if he could convince Carter to come to the Philippines he could help rejuvenate his moribund mining industry. Carter, from Reno, Nevada, had developed some refining techniques that could get more gold out of a ton of ore than the present technology. This news set off bells in Marcos' head. Perhaps Carter would be the answer to his gold problem.
By December 1974, Jack Carter had had a varied background. He was headstrong and at the age of thirteen had run away from a wealthy uncle who had become his guardian after his mother's death. He appeared older than he was. He hitchhiked to San Francisco from Ohio. Flat broke and in a strange town, he enrolled himself in high school and found a job as a soda jerk for a candy company. During the next 20 years he graduated from high school where he had risen to the rank of full colonel in the Junior ROTC, and had joined the California National Guard where he was a sergeant in the 159th Infantry. He joined the regular army and won his parachute and glider wings in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was honorably discharged in 1950 a few months before the outbreak of the Korean war.
Carter went to work for a San Francisco bank as a teller trainee and rapidly earned promotion. He had a brilliant banking career but resigned after 10-1/2 years. He went to work for Kaiser Aluminum where he rose to President of their consumer finance division. He became disenchanted with the gray flannel suit world and resigned. During his 16 years in the banking field he spent all of his spare time on weekends and vacations in the Mother Lode mining towns in California and Arizona. He was fascinated with the history and with mining. He gained most of his mining experience from books and from befriending old time miners. He had recently married and decided to move to Reno where he could be closer to the mines. Instead of going back into banking he sold cars so that he would have more free time to wander around the many ghost towns in the west.
During a deer hunt he discovered a rich outcrop of ore which he recognized as gold and platinum. Since there was not supposed to be any platinum in the US, he was forced to set up his own mining and refining facilities. This required him to become an expert on the chemistry of platinum and ultimately he developed new processes that greatly enhanced the yield of the extraction of all of these precious metals. By December 1974 he had constructed four plants for the refining of the metals from his mines. He was in the process of building the fifth and final plant to complete his process. When Marcos had a representative contact Carter he was really busy. He rejected the offers from Marcos's representative and from a personal phone call from the President. He was flattered bythe attention of the President of the Philippines who wanted him to come there as his guest and make him a business proposal, but that did not sway him.
Marcos would not take no for an answer and sent his representative to make an unannounced visit to Carter in his offices in Sparks outside of Reno. At first the offer was to have Carter remelt a number of gold bars that Marcos had, but when the quantities reached 500 tons per week, Carter became suspicious. Why not do that in the Philippines? Eventually he was told the source of the gold and the reasons Marcos needed Carterto do it. Carter didn't believe the story, but after three trips from the Marcos representative and dozens of phone calls he agreed to go to the Philippines if for no other reason than to get rid of the pest. It was supposed to be a three day trip. It lasted much longer.
When Carter arrived at the airport in Manila he was met by an entourage of a dozen members of Marcos's treasure team. This group consisted of an ambassador, a retired general, two full colonels, a doctor, and two Filipinos who were introduced to him as the eyewitnesses. The rest of
the group was made up of members of the Presidential Security Force. Carter was given the VIP treatment and was shuffled past customs and passport stations. One of the colonels was in charge of Imelda Marcos's personal security and was an aide to General Ver. While waiting for his
baggage he was told that we was expected to stay at the Presidential Palace. Carter did not like this because he knew that he would need to be in constant contact with his companies in the states and felt that the Palace would be too confining. He chose a hotel that was near the palace. The colonel got clearance for this change and arranged for the hotel.
During the next four weeks Carter was given a dog and pony show which was unprecedented. There were daily meetings and he was taken to over thirty sites. He reviewed the maps and had many hours of conversations with the eyewitnesses. Every minute of his day and most of his eveningswere taken up with these activities. He had many meetings with General Ver and lengthily meetings at the Palace with Marcos. He went fishing and water skiing with the President. He was invited for an overnight cruise with Marcos and was taken to the Summer Palace opposite Corregidor. There he was shown a golden buddha and a room full of gold bars which were stacked floor to ceiling in a large room under the summer palace. He was looking at billions of dollars worth of gold which convinced Carter that the treasure stories were true.
These weeks for Carter were very heady. They were, he thought, the greatest adventure of his life. He was wrong, it was only the beginning of a 21 year nightmare. Marcos had made three requests of Carter: 1) His treasure team had recently acquired the Japanese treasure maps. He wanted to check their authenticity. He had already agreed to allow the team to recover the treasure buried in the old air-vent of Fort Santiago, but first he wanted to check a water site. He supplied Carter with a PT boat and the necessary underwater divers and equipment and wanted him to locate one of the sunken ships. This would prove not only the maps, but also the memory of the eyewitnesses. Carter complied and on the first day out on the boat he found the sunken heavy cruiser Nachi. The divers came up with the ships' bell and a handful of silver coins that were in a barge that the ship was towing. With hundreds of sunken ships in the area to choose from this was positive proof that both were accurate. 2) He had a problem with the Ambassador being in the group and asked Carter to take over the leadership of his treasure team which he had named the LEBER group. 3) He also nsisted that Carter build a refinery on land that he would provide to handle the processing of the gold he already possessed as well as the new gold that the group would recover. This last request was a problem for Carter.
Before Carter had left the sunken cruiser Nachi he had attached a buoy to the ship with a cable. When he returned the next day he found the buoy had been removed. He had to find the ship a second time. The second buoy was cut again. Marcos claimed that Japanese salvage companies were in the area and must be responsible. He later learned that Marcos had ordered the buoys cut to keep the Leber group from making an immediate recovery. Marcos suggested that Carter find another land site that he guaranteed him he could start after he returned from the States. Marcos wanted the refractory furnaces in Carter's plants to be shipped to the Philippines immediately. Before Carter left the Philippines President Marcos had the eleven Leber group members sign an agreement dividing all future recoveries with no Philippine taxes. This meant that each member was to receive a 1/11th share. Carter was elated when he returned to make those and other necessary arrangements.
Carter had a lot to do while he was home. He had to dismantle his refractory plant and crate it to be sent by steamship to the Philippines. This effectively put him out of business in Nevada since he needed those furnaces to make a saleable product. He had over a hundred employees and the payroll would continue. He needed money and expenses for his return trip. He also needed financing for the new plant that Marcos insisted he construct there. He was required to hold a board meeting to get their approval for all of this. He also was faced with some morality problems with this project. He no longer had any doubts about the reality of this treasure . He also knew that it was covered with the blood of so many innocent victims.
During his many meetings with General Ver and Marcos he was questioned repeatedly for his opinion on how to turn this gold into cash without upsetting the world gold market. The very fact that this gold existed was enough to drop the price of gold in the market with substantial side-effects. With China's population numbering a billion people who were economically depressed he was positive that the possibility of China invading the Philippines to take this treasure was a reality. Look what they did in Korea for far less a motive. In his mind it could cause World War III. Marcos had told Carter that the gold he had already recovered was more than he could ever spend even if he lavishly showered
it on the Filipino population. He didn't want to recover any more of these sites until this distribution problem was solved. Carter was given that problem to solve.
Carter knew that Marcos was serious about this problem and he agreed with his assessment of the danger. Carter had to have a viable solution before he returned to the Philippines and he had less than a month to solve it. He sought the advice of a powerful, somewhat right-wing, organization. This included some extremely wealthy members and American politicians. They provided the capital he needed to dismantle his plant and to keep the company alive while he was overseas. They also
guaranteed to advance the money required to build the refinery in the Philippines that Marcos had insisted upon. In a meeting with a U.S.Senator and other top members of this organization Carter explained the world-wide disposition problem. They had a solution. The organization controlled a number of banks in the US and Canada with affiliates in Europe. They guaranteed Carter that they could legally handle 1000 metric tons of gold a month and none of it would go into the world
market. For all of these services Carter had to sign a contract that gave the organization 25% of any profits he would receive under the Marcos agreement. Carter had no choice for without this plan he knew Marcos would be hesitant to allow any further recoveries.
Carter's return to the Philippines was full of great expectations. He had located the Nachi and could now recover the treasure from the ship and the barge. He had engineered the recovery of the treasure in the hidden air vent in Fort Santiago. Both of these were short term projects. He would have unlimited wealth within the month. He was embarking on a great adventure. This anticipated wealth was not important to him personally, but it would give him the means to accomplish all of the things that he had planned. He was met at the airport by all the members of the Leber Group. Like his first trip he chose the hotel over the palace. President Marcos and General Ver were in China and Carter had to wait their return for the first meeting where he had expected to tell the President about the fool-proof program he had negotiated. He used this time to prepare security plans and make arrangements for the necessary men and equipment to be able to do the projects.
It was two weeks before he met with General Ver at the Palace. President Marcos was tied up with accepting a new Ambassador from Romania. Ver said that he had met with the President earlier and had prepared a number of questions for Carter. There was also some major changes.Carter's furnaces and other plant equipment were scheduled to arrive aboard the ship in ten days. Ver said Marcos didn't want to wait for the new plant to be built in order to start using them. There were some empty buildings next to the Malacanang Palace. He wanted Carter to set the furnaces up there. it was a safe place because the Presidential Security barracks were right next door. Carter agreed and said he would bring over his partner and chief engineer to help set it up. Marcos also wanted Carter to submit the plans to construct the new refinery and to coordinate that with Jose Campos, the Chairman of United Drug Companywhich was the largest pharmaceutical firm in Asia. United would providethe land in the Free Trade Zone at Bataan.
The General was elated with the sale plan that Carter outlined for him. He said it was perfect and that Marcos would be pleased. He emphasized the need to start re-melting the bars immediately. Ver told Carter that there was a basement vault under the Palace which was full of gold bars. More than he had shown Carter on his first trip. The General could see that Carter found this hard to believe so he offered to take him downstairs when the meeting was over. Ver continued by asking Carter what he planned to do with the errant Ambassador. He repeated that the President wanted him liminated. Carter remembered the first meeting with Marcos where it was clear that Marcos wanted the ambassador killed. Carter had told the President that there must be another way. Ver gave Carter a way to save the Ambassador, but if he failed, the matter was no longer in his hands. Carter agreed to try, but if he did fail, he made up his mind that he would have to give up this dream and leave the Philippines. He was not going to be a part of murder, even indirectly. The whole incident made him nervous.
This meeting with Ver was very long. The General had saved the bad news for last. He announced that the Leber group was not going to be able to work on the cruiser Nachi until later. The excuse offered by Ver was that the Japanese Ambassador had recently visited the Philippines and asked Marcos for permission to remove their war dead from the many sunken ships so that they could be properly buried in Japan. Marcos knew that wasn't the real reason; they were after the gold. If Carter was seen out in the bay removing things from the Nachi, then Marcos would be in trouble with the Japanese. Ver asked Carter to understand and promised him that the President would let him recover that at a later date..
That bad news wasn't all. Ver told Carter that the Leber group could not do the Fort Santiago site either until the President had time to meet with the head of the National Historical Society. The ancient Spanish fort was a major tourist attraction and they objected to its' temporary closing for this "restoration" project. This was devastating to Carter. He had planned on both of these sites being recovered within thirty days of his arrival. He let Ver know of his displeasure and said that if he had known that he never would have dismantled his refractory plant. He couldn't tell Ver that he only had a limited amount of money and that these delays would create major problems for him in the States.
He did tell Ver that this was going to require him to go home. The General said that the President didn't want that. Ver said he should set up the furnaces when they arrived and start processing Marcos's gold. Carter was to receive $5 for every ounce he re-melted. The President also told the General to request Carter to find another site which he could start excavating immediately. There was one condition. This new site had to be out in the jungle somewhere, away from any towns or buildings. This eliminated all of the easy to recover sites in and around Manila. The meeting over, Carter returned to his hotel to tell the Leber group members, who were waiting to learn what was happening, but first Ver took him to the large room in the basement. What Carter saw was mind boggling.
The Leber group members were understandably disappointed, but quickly showed enthusiasm over the green light which was to start another site right away. Carter pretended the same enthusiasm, but later he and his partner discussed the realities of their problem. They would have to lay off most of their employees stateside and cut back on all expenses. Even that could only buy them a few weeks.
Well that could turn around if they could get the furnaces set up and working. In the meantime they had to locate the new site. The next ten days they travelled all over Northern Luzon, rejecting most of the sites they looked at for one reason or the other. There was one site in the four hundred year old San Augustin Church. It was easy to do and the Catholic Fathers were anxious for it to be done. President Marcos rejected it. Too many people would know about it and he didn't trust the Fathers.
The site that Carter selected was 38 miles south of Manila. It was three miles from the nearest small town of Teresa. During the war the area had been a major Japanese encampment and a POW camp. It was a tent city and no buildings remained. The Japanese had constructed a huge underground tunnel system. The openings to the tunnels were well hidden and the jungle had reclaimed the area. Some of the markers had been destroyed by stone cutters, but enough remained to pinpoint the site. It had several drawbacks. It was a long way from Manila and was a logistical nightmare which caused many delays. By using an exposed airvent Carter was able to
locate the center of the tunnel. According to the map the top of the tunnel was 90 feet from the surface. Digging started as soon as Carter could mobilize the equipment and the manpower. Marcos provided the laborers who had all been screened by the Presidential Security force. They were experienced and worked for a construction firm owned by a golf partner of Marcos. The President insisted that once exposed to the site the workers could not leave until the project was completed. Temporary shelters and cooking facilities had to be erected.
Marcos had assigned only one sergeant from the Presidential Security to guard the site. He was heavily armed but General Ver required that he not wear his uniform. The idea was to not draw attention to their activities. The cover story was that the Americans were conducting soil tests for a proposed sub-division. There were farmers passing near the site who could see the digging. The lone guard kept them from getting too inquisitive. The Americans with their white skins had to keep hidden behind a bamboo fence.
The digging was agonizingly slow. What impressed the Americans was the accuracy of the maps. At different depths they were to reach a layer of glass, charcoal, and crossed bamboo. At the lower depths they were to find finger bones and human skulls. They did, and it was very disquieting. It even shocked the workers who were very superstitious. it took two months to reach the top of the concrete and steel tunnel. This was 85 feet down from the surface. The Americans were very excited. Using jackhammers they cut through three feet of concrete. Once they broke through they expected to be able to drop into the tunnel and walk to the treasure which was loaded onto 23 large military trucks sealed in the tunnel with the gold. Disaster struck the minute they broke through the concrete ceiling. The workmen began dropping like flies and the odor coming from the tunnel closed for over forty years pole-axed the Americans on the surface. In the tunnel the workers couldn't smell it, but once it mixed with air the stench of decayed flesh was overwhelming. There were 1200 POW's and Filipino's buried alive by the Japanese with this treasure. The entombed bodies as they decayed created methane gas. Half the crew were hospitalized. It took a week for the gases to dissipate and even then the workers in the shaft needed to wear gas masks.
The tunnels were not open. The Japanese had back filled them by bulldozing dirt and bodies into them. The bones removed created a large mound. It was grisly work. On July 4, 1975 the foreman came running up to Carter and very excitingly told him the workers had hit metal. Carter ordered all the workers out of the tunnel and had himself lowered into the shaft. Using a flashlight he saw the nose of a 1000 pound aerial bomb standing on end. The workers using a jackhammer had just missed the detonator by two inches. He also saw a large curved piece of rusty metal which he further exposed with a shovel to reveal the fender of a truck. Eureka!!! He had found it.
The 1000 pound bombs were clearly shown on the map. There were eight of them scattered throughout the tunnels and rigged to the trucks. They were packed in cosmolene grease and were very much "live". Carter had known they were there and had arranged with General Ver to have a demolition team come in to defuse them. There was no telephone anywhere near the site and he had been instructed to notify the Area Commander the minute they had reached the target. The Americans were very excited, but did as they were ordered. They drove to the nearest military base. It was early in the morning and the Colonel had not yet gotten out of bed. Once awake he radioed the General and was ordered to bring the Americans to his house. In the meantime he said he had deployed a full company to secure the site and make sure that no workers were allowed to leave.
General Cannu was the Area Commander and his house was 45 miles away from the base. When Carter and his partner arrived they were greeted with the same excitement that they had brought with them. The General immediately got on the phone and called General Ver. Carter told Ver what he had found and requested the demolition team be sent immediately. Ver was equally excited and told the Americans to go back to their hotel and he would send a car for them. He assured Carter that the demolition team was on the way and that the site was secure. It was still before noon and they did as requested and returned to their hotel to wait. It was a long day. With adrenaline pumping they paced their rooms until late in the afternoon when Colonel Luchica, the Generals aide, called and said to be downstairs in an hour and a car would be waiting for them to be bring them to the palace. Carter was a little surprised that the Colonel was somewhat sedate on the phone, but decided he may not have been told by Ver that they had reached the target.
General Ver's big dark blue Mercedes was waiting for them. The driver and Lieutenant Saprosantos were in civilian clothes. Carter and his partner settled in the back seat eagerly awaiting their reception at the Palace. The driver was taking a different route and Carter mentioned that this wasn't the way to the Palace. Saprosantos said that the plans had been changed, the meeting was to take place at a secret spot. Carter watched the driver turn into Fort Bonafacio and drive up to the iron gates of the American cemetary where there were acres of white crosses of the war dead. The guards at the gate opened it to admit the Mercedes. Carter looked at his partner and they both whispered that something was wrong. When the car stopped near the circular memorial Carter saw Colonel Lachica and his aide Major Olivas. He was still nervous, but he decided that Ver and the President were in another car and planned to meet them there. But, why such an eerie setting?
The two Americans were not long in finding out. As the Colonel approached the car he drew a US Army .45 Colt from his belt. He took Carter by the arm and led him from the driveway to a clump of rhododendron bushes. Carter could see his partner being led to other bushes 50 yards away by the Major, who also had his gun drawn. Once inside the bushes he was taken to a freshly dug four foot hole. The Colonel put the gun behind his ear and said that he was sorry, but his orders must be carried out. Carter thought the Colonel was his friend, but he could tell that this was no joke. Trying to regain his dignity he calmly said that the Colonel could pull the trigger, but if he did he would be laying next to Carter in a few days. The Colonel asked him what he meant and Carter said that only he had the maps to the 172 treasure sites and if he was killed Marcos would never be able to recover anyother sites. The Colonel lowered the gun and yelled to the Major something in Tagalog. He was then led back to the monument and seated on a marble bench. He couldn't see his partner, but he didn't hear a shot.
Colonel Lachica called over two burly guards also in civilian clothes. He spoke to them in tagalog and one of them drew a pistol. Carter saw the Colonel walk over to a military jeep and get on the radio. He couldn't hear what was being said. It was a long conversation and ended with the Colonel saying, "yes sir," in English. He came back to Carter and sat down on the bench. He told Carter that they would have to wait. Carter knew why, they were checking with Colonel Villacrusis to see if he had the maps and they were going to search all of their rooms at the hotel. If they found the maps he would be back at that hole fertilizing the bushes. Carter asked about his partner and the Colonel said he was all right. It was a long wait. An eternity to Carter under the circumstances. The Colonel would get up from time to time and talk on the radio.
At one point the Colonel returned and asked Carter if he he knew about an article that appeared in the Washington Post written by Jack Anderson which said that Marcos and several Americans were digging Japanese war treasures in the Santa Maria mountains. He accused Carter or his people of leaking the story. Carter denied any knowledge and assured him that his people were not at fault. In his heart he knew this was true since his people would not have put them at risk. It was well after dark when the Colonel was called to the jeep to answer a radio call. He had a long conversation and finally returned and said he was very sorry for all of this. Carter could return to the hotel and General Ver would meet with him tomorrow. His partner joined him and they were driven back to the hotel. It wasn't until they were safe in his room that he and his partner were able to relax somewhat. Their rooms had been thoroughly searched and all papers and pictures that were in them had been taken. Carter ran to his hiding place and breathed a sigh of relief. The maps were still there. Had they found them he and his partner wouldn't be. They had to get rid of them.
Later that evening Carter and his partner burned the wax coated maps in a hibachi that they had on the outside balcony of their conference room. They scattered the ashes in the breeze from the 10th floor during thedark hours of the morning. They could not relax even when this was done. Carter had sent a coded telex to his office asking that they telex him right back requesting he come home for an annual stockholder's meeting. He never mentioned the cemetery incident for fear that Marcos was monitoring his communications and might have broken his code. Coming back to his room he was followed by a military type wearing civilian clothes who had gotten on the elevator with him. Carter saw the handle of a gun in his waist band. The man got off first and opened a door near Carter's room. Carter looked in and saw a dozen men and several rifles leaning against the bed. He scurried to his room and closed the door. He called his partner to warn him. There was no sleep for Carter or his partner that night.
The requested telex from his office was delivered to his room in the morning. He placed a call to General Ver. His aide said he was out of town and transferred the call to Colonel Lachica. Carter told the Colonel that he and his partner had to go home for a week and read the phoney telex to him. Carter assured the Colonel he would be back and to prove it he was going to keep his rooms and leave all of his clothes and equipment behind. There was no mention of the night before, but Carter sensed that the Colonel was hesitant. He finally said that the General was with the President in Baguio and he would have to radio them for permission. Carter didn't wait, he called the airport and made reservations with United Airlines, an American carrier, for the evening flight. He and his partner packed some light bags leaving everything else behind.
The Colonel called back and said the General had said it was okay providing that Carter kept his hotel rooms and promised to be back in a week. Carter and his partner rushed to the airport hours ahead of the scheduled flight. While packing Carter had told his partner to pack only one small bag that could be carried on board the airplane. He was afraid that someone might slip some drug, guns, or other contraband into them and that would give them an excuse to detain them. At the airport they stood over their bags for the same reason. Once on board the airplane they were still tense until the plane began making speed down the runway. Just before takeoff, the pilot cut back the power and taxied back to the gate. Carter and his partner were sure it was because of them. The cabin door opened and two uniformed Majors and a Colonel entered. The stewardess paged Jack Carter to the open door. Carter approached and the Colonel said he was required to search his baggage.
Carter, who was in First Class, summoned false courage and made a scene. He refused to let them search his on board luggage stating that customs had already examined it. He also said he was an American citizen on an American plane with legal exit permits. The Colonel hesitated and finally called someone on the hand held radio he was carrying. The conversation was in Tagalog and ended with a "yes, Sir". He then told Carter he could return to his seat. Carter and his partner did not breathe again until the plane was airborne and then not until they were well over the Pacific.
President Marcos remained the dictator of the Philippines for another eleven years. By all rights Carter's role in this treasure should have ended with his escaping from the Islands with his life. It would have, except months earlier Carter and his partner had photographed all of the maps with both a polaroid and a 35mm camera. These pictures were sent home along with hundreds of crucial documents. There was no threat to Carter at the time but he wanted to have the pictures to work with whenhe returned home, and anyway they were taking up too much space in his room. Now, having burned the originals, these photographs were the only copies of the maps that existed. He carefully hid them when he finally arrived back in Nevada.
Carter and his partner came home to a living hell. They had gambled everything on the promises of Marcos. They were broke and their business was destroyed. Later they would learn that Marcos had a lot to do with this even while they were still digging at the Teresa site. Marcos made many attempts to entice Carter to return to the Philippines saying that "all is well". From the Ambassador he learned that Marcos had recovered $6 billion from the cruiser Nachi and had already brought up $8 billion in gold from the Teresa site. This was when gold was selling for $38 an ounce. Carter knew from the maps that there was a lot more in both sites. Still 1/11th of $14 billion was tempting, but he remembered the .45 pressed behind his ear. He didn't have enough money for food, but he resisted the temptation. Carter did send a letter to the President demanding his share. There was no reply. In late 1976 Carter read in the newspaper that the Ambassador who was a member of the Leber group was giving a speech in Nevada. He decided to confront him and had prepared another letter for the President this time threatening to go to the press unless Marcos honored his agreement. The Ambassador refused to talk to him, but he took the letter.
Carter and his partner's woes mounted. They had lost everything including their homes. Marcos agitated their stockholders and they had lost a civil suit because they did not have the money to put up a defense. They were indicted for fraud because of the loans they had obtained from the powerful right wing organization. With no money for a defense and with all of their company records stolen they were forced to plead nolo contendere to wire fraud. The loans were arranged by telephone. There were other reasons for this plea, his partner was dying and the court appointed attorney had done nothing to prepare a defense. They were given probation by a Federal Court. Now, as non-convicted felons their careers were over. They moved to Las Vegas hoping to start over. Carter went back to selling cars and his partner went on welfare until he died from a broken heart within two years.
Carter kept track of what was happening in the Philippines as best he could. One day he received a tape of a phone conversation of two Leber group members discussing a contract that General Ver had made with the Chicago Mafia for Carter's assassination. Carter took this threat seriously and sought the advice of U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt. He knew Laxalt since he had been the second in command of his honor guard when Laxalt was the Governor of Nevada. He had prepared 32 hours of audio tapes including many of the phone conversations of the various players. He also provided the Senator with over a thousand copies of the documents that would support the tapes. Laxalt's advice was to go public with the story. He also took the tapes and documents to the U.S. State Department who told him they knew all about the Carter involvement with Marcos. The tapes and documents would be later turned over to a Senate subcommittee.
Meanwhile Carter had gone to see Hank Greenspun, the owner of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. He brought in Jack Anderson, the syndicatecolumnist of the Washington Post, to investigate the story. After verifying the tapes and having the signatures on the documents authenticated, both Anderson and the Sun coordinated in writing a lengthy series of articles which were published on the same day that became a media frenzy throughout the world. This was in 1978. Marcos was in trouble and denied everything. He launched a media campaign of his own to counter Carter's story. He also called off the hit squad, but for how long?
The stories had revealed that Carter had escaped with copies of the maps. Marcos was livid. Colonel Villacrusis had lied to him in assuring him that he still possessed the maps. When Marcos finally learned the truth he made many attempts to get Carter to "kiss and make-up". At one point he agreed to send Carter $5 billion worth of gold to Nevada in 747s which would represent Carter's 1/11th share. The planes were loaded and sent, but at the last minute Marcos diverted them to Zurich. Carter would later learn that Marcos had sent Carter's share to Hong Kong and had planned to pay him on the same day these stories were printed. Years later Carter was thankful that he didn't know about this Hong Kong gold for he might have gone to get it and conveniently been killed in the
British Colony. During the next eight years there were other attempts to enlist Carter. Carter remained steadfast; he insisted on being paid his share first and then he would give Marcos one map at a time. It never happened. If Carter were to suddenly become very wealthy, the world would know that the treasure stories were real.
These stories deluged Carter with all of the kooks and wannabes in the world. They were coming out of the woodwork. He resisted all of their grandiose schemes. There were two incidents that he took seriously. One involved a son of a famed American aviator and an equally famous astronaut. They had found what they thought was the location of a sunken Japanese hospital ship, the Awa Maru, which was one of the treasure ships that was sunk by an American submarine at the end of the war while on its' way to Manila. One Japanese sailor who had survived the sharks had been rescued and he told of the treasure on board. The second offer involved the Australian government and a well planned removal of treasures from the Island of Corregidor. Carter succumbed to this plan and the outcome was a comedy of errors. With his partner dead, Carter waited patiently until after Marcos was removed from power and was spirited out of the country during the "People's Revolution" in February 1986.