From the age of five, Felix Cata-al began looking for relics of World War II in the Valencia region of the Philippines, where he lived.
This area, surrounding the nearby Mount Talinis, was the site of furious battles fought by U.S. forces and Filipino guerrillas against the Japanese, who made their last stand in Negros Island in 1945. In fact, there is a Filipino American Japanese Amity Shrine in the highlands of Valencia to commemorate the battle. Felix’s late father Porforio Cata-al was a part of the guerrilla movement, and after the war, started collecting war artifacts that were scattered around the region.
Felix inherited this passion for his town’s role in world history, and helped expand this personal collection, which is displayed at their home museum. Spent and unfired ammunition, grenades, unexploded bombs and mortars, rifles, pistols, knives, machine guns, personal items, equipment, bones, uniforms, helmets, teeth, field manuals, an American jeep, parts of Japanese fighter airplanes, and Nazi German artifacts—the museum has it all.
A history aficionado’s dream is to find Yamashita’s treasure, the alleged war loot stolen from across southeast Asia by Japanese forces during World War II, and hidden in caves, tunnels and underground complexes, all over the Philippines, including the Mount Talinis region. As this region was one of the last holdouts of the Japanese military and much of the loot has never been found, many believe rumors the treasure is still hidden in the area.
Felix runs the museum today and has researched every object he owns and loves to share facts about the history and use of every piece on display. He also has a wealth of war stories from locals and soldiers who fought during that time. Over the years of searching, he even discovered the remains of 26 Japanese soldiers, which he handed over to the Japanese government.