5 mysteries in Philippine history

History is the record of past events. But some events written in documents remain a mystery yet to be solved or confirmed. Here are five of those: 

The hunt for Yamashita treasure

During World War II, the Japanese army looted its neighboring countries and supposedly amassed an unfathomable amount of wealth. Before surrendering to the American forces, General Tomoyuki Yamashita devised a plot to keep the stolen riches hidden away.

5 mysteries in Philippine history
General Tomoyuki Yamashita (
Allegedly creating 175 tunnels across the country, General Yamashita had help from then Japanese Prince Takeda in designing and keeping the locations of the tunnels a secret. In a last-ditch effort to do so, the two enclosed the last tunnel with both Japanese soldiers and prisoners of war who finished the construction of the tunnels.

Eager treasure hunters have undertaken the arduous search for the contested treasure of Yamashita. While there have been stories that claim the discovery of the tunnels and the riches concealed within, no such claims have been confirmed to be true.

The mysterious case of Amomongo

Back in 2008, there have been reports of an elusive creature terrorizing the residents and animals of Barangay Sag-ang, La Castellanan in Negros Occidental. 

According to separate reports from Elias Galvez and Salvador Aguillar, they were walking around town at night when they were attacked by a hairy creature with long nails. They were reportedly treated for scratches on their face, abdomen, and back. Due to Galvez and Aguillar’s accounts, residents have been careful not to roam around the barangay at night.

5 mysteries in Philippine history
An artist’s depiction of the amamongo creature. (
It was also noted that at least 50 chickens and a goat also fell to the violent attacks of the strange creature that has been named “Amomongo,” meaning ape. Despite the creature being called and described as having ape-like characteristics, there are no known apes native to the Philippines.

The teleporting soldier

Gil Perez was a regular soldier of the Filipino Guardia Civil in the 16th century. It was a day after the governor was assassinated by Chinese pirates that he took his post as a sentry at the palace of the governor-general in Manila.

According to stories, Perez decided to rest his eyes for a second and leaned back on the wall of the palace after a long day of guarding and waiting for the replacement of the governor. When Perez opened his eyes again, he found himself in an unfamiliar environment. 

5 mysteries in Philippine history
A depiction of Plaza Mayor in Mexico City. (
From the governor general’s palace in Manila, Perez somehow ended up in Mexico City’s Plaza Mayor. He was placed in jail after questioning as authorities suspected he might either be a deserter or a servant of the devil.

Aside from the fantastical nature of Perez’ story, historians are also skeptical of its authenticity as it was only recorded a century after it supposedly happened.

The lost island of San Juan

San Juan, an island to the northeast of Mindanao, was recorded in maps from 16th to 18th century. It was in a map designed by Murillo Velarde in 1734 that San Juan quite literally vanished from the map. Subsequent reiterations of the map also made no mention of the island.

A range of theories was developed to explain the apparent disappearance of the island, from a tragic sinking of the island similar to the lost city of Atlantis to a mere human mistake by cartographers.

5 mysteries in Philippine history
A map of the Mindanao islands created by Jacques Nicolas Bellin in 1750. (
It was a cartographic board game created by Antonio Pucini in 1665 that apparently solved the mystery of San Juan. San Sio—present day Siargao—occupied the area where San Juan was supposed to be. This theory was not given credence until more accurate Jesuit maps were established where Islas Carolinas was situated where San Juan was originally thought to be.

San Juan was an island that was seemingly lost to history until a board game came along followed by more accurate depictions of the Mindanao islands.

The walled city’s underground tunnels

During the Spanish colonization, there is said to be a system of tunnels running beneath the walled city of Intramuros. It supposedly served as a clandestine rendezvous for priests and nuns. 

It was due to the reconstruction of San Ignacio Church in 1949 after World War II that what was thought to be a passageway was uncovered when contractors were digging around the area. Filipino anthropologist Dr. E. Arsenio Manuel wrote a paper about the underground tunnels they uncovered, entitled “Subterranean Structures in Intramuros.” He called for further research but no follow-throughs were made, thus the tunnels remain shrouded in mystery.

5 mysteries in Philippine history
A system of tunnels is believed to be running beneath Intramuros. 
Historian Jose Victor Torres proposed that the tunnels uncovered in 1949 were not an underground tunnel but rather a crypt. A total of 204 niches were discovered in the 1980s with an inscription that read “Remains of Priests and Brothers.”

Even with the unearthing of the tunnels in 1949 and the crypt in the 1980s, there has been no concrete evidence that either of the two subterranean structures are connected to the rumored underground tunnel system of Intramuros.

More of the world’s histories are yet to be unraveled. Explorers Justin Fornal and Emiliano Ruprah follow the tracks of some of the most mystical objects lost to history in Unexplained and Unexplored every Wednesday at 8:10 p.m. on Discovery Channel.

Topics: mystery , World War II , , Yamashita treasure , Amomongo , Justin Fornal , Emiliano Ruprah , Unexplained and Unexplored
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