Yamashita: The Tiger's Treasure

Yamashita: The Tiger's Treasure is a 2001 Filipino epic adventure-drama film directed by Chito S. Roño and starring Armando Goyena, Danilo Barrios, Albert Martinez, Vic Diaz, BB Gandanghari, and Camille Prats. Its plot concerns a hidden Yamashita treasure. It was released by Regal Entertainment. The film won a total of 11 awards in various award-giving bodies including the coveted Metro Manila Film Festival for Best Picture.[1]

Yamashita: The Tiger's Treasure
Yamashita the tiger's treasure.jpg
The original DVD cover
Directed byChito S. Roño
Produced by
  • Douglas Quijano
  • Sherida Monteverde
  • Allan Escaño
Written byRoy Iglesias
Music by
  • Nathan Brendholdt
  • Kormann Roque
CinematographyNeil Daza
Edited byManet Dayrit
Distributed byRegal Entertainment
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • December 25, 2001 (2001-12-25)
Running time
113 minutes
Budget80 million (estimated)


The Rosales family are a wealthy Filipino American family engaged in business and investment living in an upscale neighborhood in San Francisco, California. Jobert Rosales is the grandson of Carmelo "Melo" Rosales, an elderly Filipino World War II veteran living in the United States who tells his war stories to his grandson Jobert. In one flashback, he tells the story of his participation during World War II, when his troop was ordered to bury the Yamashita Treasure.

One day, Jobert returns home to find his parents murdered and his grandfather missing. Jobert decides to go back to the Philippines and on the flight, he finds the clues to a hidden treasure in his grandfather's coded, wartime journal, which will later serve as a crucial key to the location of the treasure and becomes engrossed with it. During his trip to the Philippines, news of his parents' murder and grandfather's appearance spread around the globe. However, upon arrival in Manila, Jobert is unaware that he has become the center of attention, especially when a news reporter gives him a business card at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. His nervousness increases after an uncomfortable interrogation with police general Rivas.

Jobert happily reunites with his old friends and former classmates but the reunion turns sour when they are ambushed and abducted by mercenaries, who take them to Edmundo "Emong" Mariano (Albert Martinez). As Emong reveals his innocence and his concern for Melo's safety, a man named Nolasco arrives and reveals that they sent the mercenaries, adding that the said "abduction" was a preventive operation to protect Jobert and his friends from being captured by Paok TF, a criminal syndicate interested in the treasure with the intention to abduct and kill Jobert and his friends after they find the said loot. Nolasco reveals himself and Emong to be top Philippine government officials with the latter serving as the country's Yamashita treasure expert, and adds that Melo was kidnapped by the same syndicate, headed by Naguchi (Vic Diaz), a Japanese World War II veteran and Jarco (BB Gandanghari). When Nolasco states that they know how to find Melo and save him, an ambush occurs, wherein Emong leads the team's escape. After a highway chase with the syndicate's henchmen, the team boards a speedboat that will take them to an inter-island ship, which will serve as their safehouse.

While on the ship, Jobert reads the journal. Flashbacks of Lolo Melo's life show his happy life with his younger brother, Peping, whom he gave an expensive harmonica as a gift before he enlists in the Army. Upon the outbreak of World War II, Melo and Peping were captured by the Imperial Japanese Army. While they were tortured by Japanese troops, he and Peping consoles themselves to relieve their sorrow by listening to the latter's harmonica music. That goes on until General Tomoyuki Yamashita orders them and some POWs to be herded in a Japanese transport ship bound to Mindoro. They suffered severe maltreatment, from rotational torture, feeding them with meager rations, from spoiled rice to boiled camote roots and among others. The journal, revealed as the treasure map in pieces, confirms Mindoro province as the site.

Meanwhile, one of Jobert's friends suspects something about Emong's identity and intentions. Another flashback reveals of Melo's war life. In Mindoro, the POW's are forced to dig several large tunnels to bury something. The ship, carrying Yamashita's loot, arrives in Mindoro and the POW's were ordered to place the treasures in the tunnels and place some traps, including land mines. Melo and several others are forced to seal the area after the duty and an American air raid attacks them, burying also his younger brother and some of their fellow prisoners alive. Peping plays the harmonica one last time, as his co-prisoners die due to suffocation while he dies of his wounds.

Upon arrival at Mindoro, the team are met by Jarco and his henchmen. Jobert reunites with Melo, captured by the syndicate's team as asset, bargaining chip and guide, along with multiple trucks to transport the loot. Melo and Jobert leads Jarco and the henchmen into the tunnels, seemingly full of gold, loot and the legendary Golden Buddha. Melo tells Jobert to leave the tunnel as he confronts the henchman. As Jobert's group leaves, Jarco's henchmen try to kill them but a distraction in the form of a military backup following Naguchi's moves, arrives and disposes the henchmen. The group are eventually rescued by Emong, who is revealed to have called the military for help.

Back at the tunnels, Melo discovers his younger brother's skeletal remains, along with the rusting harmonica he gave many decades ago. Jarco, seemingly mesmerized by countless loot in his front, opens the Golden Buddha only to step on a land mine, causing a chain of explosions that destroys the tunnel, killing everyone including himself. Before Melo dies, he plays the harmonica one last time, while Peping's spirit smiles in front of him and embraces him.

Emong and Jobert's group leads the military to the location of the tunnels only to arrive too late after the explosion. Realizing that some of Naguchi's surviving henchmen are leaving with the loot and treasure loaded in trucks, Jobert tells Emong to call local and national media about the incident. The media frenzy about the treasure causes the local populace, along with several law enforcement agencies to erect several blockades and create human chains to halt the convoy. The people power succeeds and the henchmen are arrested. Naguchi and Rivas, now revealed to be his accomplice and the mastermind behind the incidents, are also taken to custody. After a flashback shows Yamashita's execution by hanging, Melo and Peping's remains, as well as those of other POWs are exhumed and buried with full honors in Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The epilogue reveals that Philippines had paid all its debts and indemnity for veterans and other war victims. Melo and Peping are posthumously awarded the Philippine Medal of Valor, and EDSA was renamed Carmelo Rosales Avenue due to his honor, heroism and resilience.


Main rolesEdit

Supporting rolesEdit


The film was shot in United States and Philippines. Roadrunner Network, Inc. is responsible for the majority of visual effects. The titles were made by Cinemagic. The films were printed by LVN Pictures.


The original film score was composed and conducted by Nathan Brendholdt and Kormann Roque. It was recorded at The Music and Sound Gallery. The sound mixing was done at The Elemantal Music.

"The Treasure In You" is the theme song of the film, composed by Elvin Reyes and Normann Roque and arranged by Ruth Bagalay. It was recorded by singer Pops Fernandez.



In review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 57% and an average score of 3.5 out of 5 from users based on 80 reviews.

Home mediaEdit

The official home video of the film was released on November 15, 2005 in Region-3 DVD format.


2001 Metro Manila Film FestivalEdit

  • Won best picture
  • Won best director for Chito S. Roño

2001 FAMAS AwardsEdit

  • Won best actor for Armando Goyena
  • Won best art Direction for Max Paglingawan and Fernan Santiago
  • Won best special Effects for Roadrunner Network, Inc.
  • Won best supporting Actor for Carlo Muñoz.
  • Won best visual Effects for Roadrunner Network, Inc.

Young Critics Circle, PhilippinesEdit

  • Won best cinematography for Neil Daza
  • Won best visual Design for Max Paglingawan and Fernan Santiago
  • Won best achievement in Sound for Ross Diaz, Ronald de Asis and Albert Michael Idioma
  • Won best achievement in Aural Orchestration for Kormann Roque and Nathan Brendholdt



When the film won the Best Picture award over the much favored film Bagong Buwan (a film about the military conflict in Muslim Mindanao directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya), many moviegoers and critics were shocked over its selection for the top award as the movie was presented as an adventure film tackling the legend about the lost gold of Yamashita in the Philippines. For the most part, Yamashita was a fantasy and its subject matter was considered irrelevant to Filipinos.

Pearl HarborEdit

Prior to its release, Yamashita rode a wave of hype as the Philippines' answer to Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor due to a scene on the film featuring Japanese fighter planes attacking a Philippine base which gratefully aped a scene in Pearl Harbor. The scene was made using the most advanced visual effects technology available at that time.


  1. ^ Yamashita: The Tiger's Treasure 2001 directed by Chito S. Rono, retrieved 19 March 2012

External linksEdit