© 1999 Edward Michaud
After the end of the Pacific war in 1945, most
of the remaining silver was recovered by the US Navy through elaborate
diving and dredging techniques, but there were still over five million
silver pesos unaccounted for. A small group of American divers attempted to
work the site during the early 1960’s. Over two months of diving resulted in
the recovery of about one-half million coins. Their original agreement with
the Philippine Government allowed them to keep only about one-third of the
haul, so recovery operations were suspended. The balance of these coins
still remain at their original dumping locations inside San Jose Bay.
great deal of research through Government Archives and interviews conducted
with the participants of the various incidents described thus far, the
Author was able to actually visit the scene of these activities on and off
Corregidor Island in 1988. At the time of my visit the island appeared from
the distance to be the typical island of tranquility with its lush jungle
foliage. The attractiveness of its green carpets belied the terrible beauty
of its war-torn history. In 1945 the island resembled the surface of the
moon with shell-pitted scars from one end of the island to the other.
According to the interviewed veterans who participated in the island’s
wartime history, there wasn’t any living thing left on the "Rock" by the
time it was all over and done with. Now, nature has reclaimed and covered
the sins of man - At least most of them.
one-month stay I was able to view the many sights on the island that were
normally off the standard tourist tracks. I also had the opportunity to
explore the waters off both the North and South Docks. The bottom terrain in
the water really tells the truth of what happened there so many years ago.
Remnants of the "toys" of war, such as rusted machine-guns, ammunition,
parts of wrecks, along with pieces of what used to be the docks themselves,
litter the bottom. Occasionally, a silver peso or centavo would come to
light after fanning away a few inches of sediment, along with personal
momentos such as watches and trolley tokens. At one point I even came across
two US Navy torpedoes lying side by side just off the Barrio San Jose Beach,
(called Black Beach by some). Needless to say, I fanned the sand back over
them and left the area rather quickly; at the same time trying not to have a
the island I was also able to query the local inhabitants about the various
legends regarding the lost treasures. One must keep in mind that most of
these inhabitants were not around when the events they describe supposedly
took place. In general, the island of Corregidor itself no longer contains
any large treasure-trove to search for. Research and personal inspection on
my part has convinced at least myself of that. However, I note the following
stories because there is at least a fabric of truth in all of them.