Most of us have heard of Yamashita’s treasure, which is supposed to be buried in various spots all over the Philippines. Whether one believes the stories or not, tales of treasure hunts, especially successful ones, will always capture the imagination. That is why droves of treasure hunters have flocked to the Philippines for decades, in the hope of unearthing of these fabled riches.
The time for such free-reign digging in the Philippines has come to an end. The Philippine government will now regulate all treasure hunts in the country, in order to “protect the country’s natural and cultural heritage”. The terms of the regulation are as follows:
* Only Filipino citizens can conduct treasure hunts.
* All treasure hunters need to acquire a one-year permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and post a surety bond.
* Found items will be evaluated by the government, and those with historical or cultural value will be kept by the Philippines. The finder will be given a share of the value, assessed by committee.
* Caves that have cultural, palaeontological and historical value, within ancestral domains, and other significant caves are off limits to treasure hunters.
This regulation aims to stop the plunder of treasure found in the Philippines. I can see that it will have good and bad consequences. It’s good because cultural and historical items and sites will be protected. There will be proper documentation of found treasure. But it can also be a bad thing, if it drives successful treasure hunters underground, fueling trade of valuable antiques in the black market. Also, I think there should also be openness to the public about all treasures that go through the committee and the department. We don’t want valuable items to be “lost” again after they have been found, do we?