Tag Archives: Ferdinand Marcos

Special Sale of The President’s Gold & Preview new novel in the Gold Series

For those of you who enjoyed reading The President’s Gold, I wish to advise you that I have started writing the sequel, Tarnished Gold. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, the first two novels of the Gold Series, as well as the final one, are all historically accurate, based on my detailed research, beginning after the Japanese buried the gold in the Philippines and covering the roles of Yamashita, the Yakuza, the CIA, Marcos, and Santa Romana’s recovery of the gold. All these novels, including Tarnished Gold, which picks up two months after the end of The President’s Gold, are historical thrillers. In the Gold Series, as well as all my other novels, I drop several characters into the historically accurate timeline to give the reader an up-close-and-personal feel for the story as it plays out. The President's Gold

My research into the buried gold in the Philippines led me to two expert appearances in television documentaries related to recovered gold. In those interviews, I relate roles of both individuals in the Philippines and leaders in the United States.

While I am currently deep in writing the journal of a Vietnamese family that escaped Vietnam, the main characters in the Gold Series, Frank and Rosalita, have been pestering me to finish their story. That comment will only make sense to you if you are a writer. Characters get in your head and the talk to you. (No, adult beverages and schizophrenia have nothing to do with it. Most likely?)

Tarnished Gold has been outlined and partially written for several years. Besides finishing the Frank and Rosalita story, it also finishes the story of the two rosaries. If you’ve been reading the Gold Series you know who currently possesses each rosary and what larger story they tell. The rosary portion is part of the true story of the Gold Series.

When I finished my outline and drafted the story, I realized that I needed to develop one of my characters, Tao, who had several cameos in The President’s Gold, as I was planning a bigger role for him in Tarnished Gold. Since he was Vietnamese, I decided to write a novel on Vietnam, called Pawns, which led to another series of novels. I wanted those who follow my novels to understand who he is and know about his past that drives him. Unfortunately, it took me away from a timely finish of the Gold Series, but now it’s time.

So yes, to answer the question on some of your minds, I am writing two manuscripts at the same time, while the bulk of my time is devoted to the Vietnamese family escape, which should be finished in about a month. Lately, I have been known to sneak over and do a little writing on Tarnished Gold. As a matter of fact, in the next couple of days, I will be posting a finished version of the first chapter of that book.

If the Gold Series intrigues you and you have not read it, I am going to run a special starting on July 10th on The President’s Gold for those of you looking for something to read while enjoying your Summer vacation. I promise you this novel is full of fireworks.

Below is the hyperlink to Tarnished Gold Chapter One – WHICH IS FREE

Tarnished Gold Chapter One

History Channel Series – Lost Gold of World War II

On Tuesday, March 19, at 10 p.m. EDT, The History Channel is starting a new series on the gold the Japanese stole during World War II and buried in the Philippines. The series, Lost Gold of World War II, is about a Filipino family who believes gold is buried on their property and wants answers.

In October 2018, a Filipino here in the U.S. working with the team in the Philippines contacted me to unlock some of the unknowns or correct some of the inaccuracies of the story behind the gold. The first thing I asked was how they found me—and why me? They had seen the documentary a London production team put together for Myth Hunter’s regarding “Yamashita’s gold,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZU_xHCA4j4, which focused on the plight of Rogelio Roxas and the Golden Buddha. I learned several of the other experts regarding this “Lost Gold” have since passed away. Which leaves me as one of the few experts of the overall story still alive and willing to participate in their series.

On December 3 of last year, the young Filipino and the History Channel film team showed up at my residence to get to the bottom of these stories. We spent most of the day in a question and answer session regarding from what countries the gold was stolen, who was in charge of burying and documenting the gold, and why it was brought to the Philippines. The next round of questions revolved around whether any of the gold had been recovered.

When the filming was completed, the production team informed me the series would likely start in March of this year. A couple of weeks ago, a friend called and asked if I knew anything about a series called Lost Gold of World War II. Naturally, I replied yes, I’m in it. The next morning, I sent an email to the producer, who confirmed the series was starting on March 19, and I would show up in episode 7 or 8. Here is a preview of the series: https://www.history.com/shows/lost-gold-of-world-war-ii.

I was surprised to learn no one in the production team or the Filipino knew anything about my novels, The President’s Gold (http://www.donkesterson.com/the-presidents-gold/) or Gold of the Spirits (http://www.donkesterson.com/gold-of-the-spirits/). They said they would read them to fill in more detail than I was able to give them in their one-day visit. I cautioned them the Filipino family to be very careful, as pursuit of this buried gold was very dangerous. They left wishing they had more time for questions and answers, as some of my answers led them toward questions they had not even pondered for their Gold series.

Be sure to watch this series and let me know what you think.

The President's Gold

Writing about Gold in the Philippines

In 1996, I was asked to appraise and discover the history of a gold certificate. This led me into a ten-year research project mostly centered in the Philippines, but also in Southeast Asia. The research became so fascinating I decided to write a book centered on the subject of gold.

During World War II, the Japanese had a recovery team, the Golden Lily, named for Emperor Hirohito’s favorite poem growing up. The Golden Lily group was composed of a team led by Hirohito’s brother Prince Chichibu, and it included Prince Takeda, Prince Mikasa, Colonel Taisho, Major Nakasone, Rear Admiral Yoshio Kodama and Rear Admiral Ryoichi Sasakawa.

The Golden Lily’s recovery began in China, first taking gold from Manchuria, then NanJing. As the Japanese continued to conquer territories throughout Asia, they removed that country’s gold, taking it to Nagano Bullion Bunker at the Emperor’s palace. Later in World War II, as the United States Navy began to rule the seas of the Pacific, the Japanese changed their tactics and started taking the gold to the Philippines. At the beginning of World War II, the Philippines was a United States territory and was one of the first territories conquered by the Japanese. Hirohito and the Japanese military staff believed that, even if they lost the War to the United States, they could negotiate to keep the territory of the Philippines. However, when Germany surrendered before them in 1945, their plans fell apart. By the time Japan surrendered in September 1945, they had buried extensive amounts of gold throughout the Philippines. The Japanese didn’t just bury the gold; they buried the soldiers and slaves (POWs) who assisted with the burial. Additionally, they booby-trapped the burial sites. The Golden Lily team prepared encrypted maps to document how to recover the gold. Only two sets of maps were made, so that, in theory, only the Japanese could recover that gold.

Japan was forced to unconditionally surrender, thus no Philippines. Almost immediately, the Japanese began to locate and recover gold in the Philippines. Yoshio was the first of the Japanese to return to the Philippines to recover gold. Two years after World War II, President Truman started the CIA, but the United States was experiencing a poor post-war economy, so their budget was very small and incapable of competing with the British MI-6 and the Soviet spy network. The CIA need funds to operate, so they turned to Captain Edward Lansdale, who had run a underground network in the Philippines toward the end of World War II, to use his organization to recover gold in the Philippines. Lansdale turned his recovery operation over to Santa Romana, also known as Father Jose Antonio Diaz, who was in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II as a Catholic priest. Very little information is available on Santa Romana, one of the most critical men in the funding of the CIA. Most people have never heard of this very important individual in the fight against communism, as he operated as far into the background as he possibly could.

Fast forward to the late 1960’s, when President Ferdinand Marcos was elected. Marcos served in the military during World War II, and when the War was over, he got into politics and made connections with many influential diplomats. These connections led Marcos to gold recovery operations never seen in the history of the world. By the mid-1970’s, Ferdinand Marcos was by far the richest man in the world, and his security team was led by the evil Colonel Fabian Ver, who prevented anybody else from recovering gold in the country.Silhouette fedora

This and more was what I uncovered during my ten-year research of the gold certificate. So I wrote a 1000-page history book about Southeast Asia including my findings. My editors were reviewing the history book; they believe the part about Marcos and the gold made a good work of fiction. Thus, I created several fictional characters, dropped them into the Philippines and the history regarding the recovery of gold in the Philippines and called it The President’s Gold. I had so much fun writing that novel that I went back and wrote the prequel to it, Gold of the Spirits, for which I am currently seeking agent representation. I also have planned a sequel to The President’s Gold, picking up where The President’s Gold left off.

 

STOLEN GOLD AND OTHER ARTIFACTS

Within the next couple of weeks, a movie will be coming out called The Monuments Men.  This movie is based on a startling, real-life event that occurred in the final days of World War II in the European Theater, the discovery of the Merker Mine.

In the last days of the Third Reich, Hitler had the German Central Bank move all their currency and gold to this mine, which already housed the gold and artifacts stolen from the Jews and the conquered countries throughout Europe.Silhouette fedora

The real story behind this discovery is compelling. Sometime around April 5, 1945, French individuals were interrogated by US Army Counterintelligence Corps from the Ninetieth Infantry and learned of the potassium mine at Merker, Germany. This information was passed on up the Army intelligence chain to G-2. Soon, Lieutenant  Colonel William A. Russell entered this mine and made the startling discovery. As the artifacts were being documented, even General Dwight D. Eisenhower showed up at this mine to review the findings.

Do you know that the same things happened in the Pacific, following the defeat of Japan? Why have we not heard about it? The events in Europe were treated completely different from the events in the Pacific. Why? After the War in Europe, the British, the French, the United States and the Soviet Union divided Germany into four parts, with each country providing supervision in each region. Information was shared among the Allied Parties, except, of course, for the Soviet Union. In the Pacific, it was solely the United States.

I was hired by an international banker to research an owner’s missing gold, which led to more than a decade of researching World War II in the Pacific. This evolved into researching the events that lead to the war and the events immediately after the war. More particular, my research was focused on what happened to the gold and the Asian country’s treasures. The results of my research were placed into a three-volume history book of over one thousand pages that focuses these events. Later, I prepared a series of fiction books with my historical research serving as the underpinning. “We the people” need to be educated about these events. Were we taught these things in school? No, history and geography have been largely ignored in school for the last three or four decades. However, this is not where the answer lies: the government never wanted us to know what happened in the Pacific following World War II. Before and during World War II, we supported the wrong leader in Nationalist China, Chiang Kai-chek. President Franklin Roosevelt had big plans for China following the defeat of Japan; however, when China fell to Mao and the Communists, President Truman had to scramble to make quick changes. With General MacArthur running occupied Japan, Truman decided that Japan would become the country to rebuild. This was a country the United States had virtually destroyed; the infrastructure and many of its young men died in that conflict—those who would be critical to revitalizing the country.

Under the watchful eyes of General MacArthur, Japan got to keep all of their stolen gold and virtually no public record was made of the discoveries or even its existence. Then amazingly, within fifteen years, the world was touting Japan as the Economic Miracle.

Can anybody figure out how that happened?

 

Bruce Willis, 3000 Pairs of Boogie Shoes and Presidential Discotheques

I have to admit . . . I was a more than a little surprised to learn that David Byrne (former front man for the Talking Heads) has a new musical about Imelda Marcos and her disco dancing days. The musical is called “Here Lies Love” (reviewed here) and features actress Ruthie Ann Miles portraying the First Lady of the Philippines shaking her groove thang.

Of course, surprise is one of those emotions that comes often to me as I’m researching scenes for historically accurate writing, which is what led to Imelda’s disco scene in my fictional novel The President’s Gold. For example, I was surprised to learn, while researching the layout of the Marcoses’ Malacanang Presidential Palace, that Imelda had a discotheque built atop the palace.

Sure, I knew about her shoe fetish—who hasn’t heard that she owned over 3,000 pairs of designer shoes? But a custom-built disco hall in which to wear your boogie shoes? I mean, can you imagine what we’d say if Michelle Obama spent taxpayer dollars on a mirrored disco ball and private performances by top rock bands, as Imelda did during her tenure as First Lady of the Philippines?

Too bad Imelda no longer hosts private disco parties, because maybe, just maybe, she could invite Bruce Willis and his friends to entertain her with a Boy Dance Party, as seen this past weekend on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Research—and the surprising results to which it often leads writers—is one of the best parts of writing historically accurate scenes. What have you discovered recently when researching facts for your own stories? And while we’re at it, what do you think about a Presidential Palace with a private discotheque? Isn’t it amazing what stolen war gold can buy! 

 

–Don Kesterson

The Flawed Hero or a True Evil Villain?

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Image courtesy of bandrat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Can a good guy in a story really be 100% good? Would we love him as much if he were? Each of us has faults and flaws, and in a powerful work of fiction, it’s important that we have characters in whom we see reflected a tiny bit of ourselves—the good and the bad.

Recent popular series such as Showtime’s Dexter, AMC’s The Walking Dead and AMC’s Breaking Bad star protagonists (good guys) who did terribly bad things—murder-and-cooking-crystal-meth-kind-of-bad things. Yet these stories are hugely popular. If you’ve ever taken a fiction-writing class, you’ve likely been told to give every good guy in your story a flaw, and give every bad guy a redeeming quality. It makes them more human, more relatable to the rest of us.

In my recently published political thriller, The President’s Gold (Book One in the forthcoming Gold novel series), I worked to make each of my main characters walk this tightrope between good and evil, and I believe I succeeded—with one exception. General Fabian Ver, who was actually once a living person and the vicious henchman of the Philippine’s President Ferdinand Marcos, is depicted in the novel as I believe he really was in life; as pure evil. No matter how far and wide I looked for wonderful things this man did for humanity, my research revealed only more and more heinous, brutal acts. He tortured, he maimed and he killed, all in the name of finding hidden war loot stolen from the Japanese. I should also tell you that his methods of torture were the kinds that make Jason Vorhees of the Friday the 13th horror franchise seem like a mischievous kid in a Pittsburgh Penguins mask. In other words, Ver was the epitome of wickedness. Hence, I depicted him as such.

Readers and writers, what do you think? Do you favor antiheroes in a story, or do you prefer knights in shining armor who can do no wrong? And do you believe an antagonist—the baddest of the bad—should be portrayed with redeeming qualities? What was your impression of General Fabian Ver in The President’s Gold? Please leave me a note below. I look forward to reading your thoughts!

–Don Kesterson