MANILA (Kyodo) A Filipino man who found a collection of Japanese photographs in an old abandoned house in the northern Philippines that was used by the Japanese military during World War II wants to return them to their rightful owners.

An album containing more than two dozen photos was found tucked between a post and a wall of the two-story wooden house in Basug, a village in Santa Town, Ilocos Sur Province, in the northwestern part of Luzon Island.

“I want to track the owner down,” said architect Rey Florentino, 52, who found the 15-page album seven years ago.

“These pictures must be very valuable to the owner. They obviously have sentimental value,” Florentino said in an interview.

A photo of a young girl clad in a kimono is among the black-and-white photos of people found in the album. There is also a group photo of soldiers, a banquet photo and photos of babies and women.

Florentino, a restorer of old, historical houses in the provincial capital, Vigan, said the album was found as the house was being dismantled.

“We (initially) thought it was an ordinary album. I was amazed when I saw that it was a Japanese album with Japanese writings on it,” he said.

He said he was told by villagers that the house was an Imperial Japanese Army outpost during the war and that since then there has been talk that it is inhabited by ghosts.

“The house was very strategic. It was located on a cliff, by the Abra River. I was told that there were even dogfights of American and Japanese planes in an open field in front of the house. The house had a very commanding view of the area overlooking Vigan,” he said.

The photo album, which is in tatters, is titled “A Gift from the Matsunaga Troop.” It neither lists the name nor address of the owner.

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