Although gold deposits have been found in all parts of the Philippines, Chinese traders in the 3rd century referred to Luzon as the “Isle of Gold”. The cities of Manila and Olongapo are located on the island of Luzon. Gold mines in the Philippines yield more than 30 metric tons per year, nearly the same amount as before the industry collapsed due to the Pacific war (during World War II). I don’t know what the gold value is these days, but that’s a lot of gold.
Yamashita’s Gold (or Yamashita’s Treasure)
As you can probably guess, the Philippines is rich in mineral resources. It makes me wonder why anyone would concoct a story like Yamashita’s gold. Supposedly, the World War II Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita hid gold and golden treasures in caves, tunnels and underground complexes somewhere in the Philippines.
There must have been some evidence to its existence, or so you would think, because a Philippine treasure hunter named Rogelio Roxas filed a lawsuit in the state of Hawaii in 1988 against the former President and his wife, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, and won. He claimed to have found the gold and then had it taken away from him when Marcos found out about it. He also claimed to have been beaten and imprisoned for up to a year by the Marcos regime.
The Philippine Gold Rush
In 1995, a Philippine law was passed to allow foreign investors 100 percent ownership of mines in the Philippines. The law was contested in 2005, but upheld by the Philippine Supreme Court.
As usual, many Filipinos dislike the situation, citing it as another way for the country to be exploited. Filipinos should own and run the mines, they say, without knowing that it takes a lot of money to open and keep up the mines — money that the Philippines government, as well as local investors, just don’t have. Others state that mining ruins biodiversity while exacerbating natural disasters, while not benefiting the Filipino people.
Mining operations, be it gold or any other precious metal, have been going on in places all over the world. Many economies of the US were founded on mining enterprises. As dangerous as mining can be, it does offer jobs for local residents — jobs that might not otherwise exist.
Owning and Wearing Gold in the Philippines
Investing in gold is a worthwhile pursuit in almost any place you may live, not just the Philippines. As paper money loses value, gold seems to keep its value. It’s a good hedge against inflation. When it comes to the point where you need to sell gold, don’t look to me for answers. I have never sold gold to anyone or any place. In fact, if I ever get into the situation where I need to sell gold, I’ll have to do research and learn how to sell gold without getting ripped off.
Wearing gold in public places in the Philippines isn’t a good idea. That is, unless you want to lose that gold. In Manila, gold necklaces, bracelets, watches and even rings (including the fingers) have been stolen from people who proudly wear their gold. The incidents have decreased since the 1980s, but it still happens.
Can you believe I don’t own any gold? I don’t wear jewelry. Ever. The only thing I wear is a cheap watch. I don’t even wear a wedding ring, but that’s a different story I don’t want to write about. The only thing I’ll say about it is: Fat finger.
The History of Gold
I wouldn’t know where to begin.
Gold has been used for financial transactions and ornaments since the beginning of recorded history. In fact, it’s biblical. I can’t get through a single historical reading session, and I really like reading history from different perspectives (country views), without gold being mentioned at least once.
I’m sure the history of gold in the Philippines is as rich as it is in any country. Because of the diverse history, however, I doubt much of it has been written down for people of the present day and age to read about.
Update March 31, 2014
As I mentioned, Luzon isn’t the only island in the Philippines with gold on it. MindanaoBob has staked out a claim at a gold mine on the island of Mindanao and is even taking part in a series on the Discovery Channel.
(It turns out this was an April Fool’s Day prank. Unfair, though, because he pulled it on the 1st in the Philippines while it was still the 31st in the United States.)
[Photo Attribution: By User SilkTork on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]