Thursday, July 19, 2012

A day in the bushes to back up their buried treasure stories

It seems that personal accounts of buried treasures never go out of style here. And I love surprises, such as discovering the seeming willingness of people you meet, even for the first time, to share their own stories and back them up with proof when you show skepticism – like taking time out to physically show what you thought were just imaginary treasure sites, to give you the chance, perhaps, to merge fantasy with reality, but that’s for as long as you’re willing to walk into the bushes.

Into the bushes, all in a single day. 

Buried treasures in caves, caverns, rock crevices, beneath old trees, tao (people from another world who guard hidden treasures appearing and disappearing from thin air), many admissions of actual involvement in treasure hunting – accounts seem endless. Some have found something according to someone; one left to live a good life elsewhere after reportedly unearthing gold from someone’s backyard while working on a fence; one talks about a mysterious death in the family as kapalit, payment for the find as required by the tao… But personal involvement of those you might chance upon and who might eventually confess their knowledge, have a thing in common: first, they’ve undeniably found their treasures but in those cases, something eerie happens during the last few minutes, when the buried treasures are about to be pulled out from the pits – they are sucked down into the deep bowels of the earth, never to be found again, of course. In other instances, water would suddenly flood the treasure site in seconds and metal detectors, after confirming the presence of gold, would suddenly fall silent, unable to trace anything anymore.  


And more stories, but with back up proof this time?

It appears that there's no real distinction as far as the source of the buried treasure story is concerned. The accounts do come from people from all walks of life –  from the exploited poor to the high and mighty and chichi society . So either they all hopelessly lie about their stories or some are genuine, probably worthy of some pursuit.

Man-made dungeon of natural stones and darkened cement with a small entrance leading to a big chamber.


 Mr. A, one informant, refused to accompany us there for whatever personal reason, but graciously asked his wife who was babysitting for her grandson to take us there (in second photo above). Thick growth has covered the area that it took a while for the woman to locate it. Having rained the night before, it was not tempting to go down into the big hole to check the hidden chamber on the western side. We also didn't have any flashlights. According to Mr. A,  it had been emptied of whatever was hidden there, and there were many, by men who came in a batel a long, long time ago, an episode that he himself witnessed as a young boy.


Entrance leading to a spacious chamber.


Mr. A  said other treasure hunters followed years later but no one ever knew if anything more was found.
He remembers having found there a plate he used to keep, now lost, designed with characters he could not recognize, but he was certain the plate was made of aluminum. Mr. A expressed disappointment that we did not explore further inside, insisting it was safe and we would have seen how neatly the stones on the walls were arranged. 

From this site we headed to the secluded beach and therein wondered  if this piece of rock, found about 70 meters away from the open pit, is man-made or plain conglomerate.

Into a mangrove forest.


Hours later a Mr. B then led us to a distant coastal barangay where his family owned a coconut farm bordered by the shoreline. He wanted us to see a square depression showing that the sides had been created using fist-sized stones and cement. Being in the middle of a thick mangrove area that only goes under water during extreme high tide, no one knew who built it. His father and grandfather knew about it but they never, never in their lifetime, figured out what it was for. 

Mr. B had not checked the actual site for years now and appeared to have difficulty tracing it. He knew there were attempts to get into the bottom of it in the past, but upon finding it this time, was completely surprised that it had actually been excavated by who knows who.

A navigable estuary on the north side some 80 meters away.

This hole that could be found in another Marinduque barangay was dug up by strangers more than ten years ago, according to a Mr. C. Two large gusi, jars with treasures were purportedly recovered here by the diggers who did not even attempt to hide their deed by refilling the pit with soil. In fact, no one cared to refill this gaping hole all these years. 

Markings etched in rock from another site where caverns abound and no one paid attention to, or maybe just my imagination this time. But enough perhaps, for a short day.
Another tell-tale sign?

Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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