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History Owes an Apology

Nikki Rae, TK Apps Batch 1617A

On the 15th of October, Tomo-Kai held an outreach with Liga ng mga Lolang Pilipina, or LILA Pilipina for short. It is an organization comprising a group of lolas who had been comfort women at the time of the Japanese Invasion in the Philippines during World War II. Three lolas were present during the event; Lola Narcisa Claveria (87), Lola Felicidad Delos Reyes (88), and Lola Estelita Dy (86) who is the only resident lola of the organization at the moment. In attendance were our Filipino members and some Japanese exchange students.

About LILA Pilipina
LILA Pilipina was first called Task Force on Filipino Comfort Women, and was composed of 7 organizations. It was established on the 24th of May in the year 1994. LILA Pilipina aims to supports the rights of the Filipino victims of the violence and sexual assault inflicted by the Japanese soldiers during World War II. Shockingly, the average age of the Filipinos taken as comfort women was between 13-14 years old.

For a little more than 20 years, LILA Pilipina and other Filipinos have joined hands, giving a strong fight for justice. It is a fact that the Japanese Government has been one of the biggest donors of the Philippines, but we can never exchange this for our countrymen. Up to now, the lolas still appeal to the Japanese Government asking for (1) an apology, and (2) recognition in history. Apparently, the Japanese Government had already ‘changed history’, saying “There were no comfort women, only prostitution.”

The Lola’s Stories
With tears in her eyes, Lola Narcisa Claveria started narrating the memories that hurt her the most. The Japanese forces reached her town in 1943 during World War II. On a certain day of the same year, the Japanese forces raided and burnt her town to the ground, taking Filipinos to the garrison. The Japanese forces exhausted the Filipinos of their rights. In the garrison, Filipinos were not allowed to talk nor get near each other; they were to follow what the Japanese told them lest they get punished. Bombs came one day. The Japanese forces escaped to safer places but left the Filipinos locked up in the garrison to die. Filipinos from outside the garrison heard their cries and helped set them free. But more hardships came right after; the ultimate fight the Filipinos had to face was hunger. When the Japanese lost the war, they left the Filipinos with everything in disorder. It happened and there were victims.

The lolas told their stories in order to let the world know of what they had been through. Had there been no wars, the lolas would have walked and laughed freely with friends and family, just like us. For the next generations to not have the same experiences, the lolas took the responsibility of winning this issue against the Japanese Government. The fight of LILA Pilipina doesn’t only involve Filipinos and Japanese, but also the whole world.

A Reflection
“The Japanese ruined the lives of people but developed their right to grow.” –LILA Pilipina

These words are one of the most painful I’ve heard so far. The dead are remembered, but the living are sometimes buried in neglect. I felt anguish and disgust hearing the stories of the lolas and I know that I’m not, even a single bit, allowed to do so. After all the fighting the lolas had done, I shall stand on their side, keeping the peace and helping achieve justice. A friend, one of the Japanese students who came, asked for my help to thank the lolas. She is Japanese and still can’t speak Filipino fluently, but I can see that she stands on the same side.

For the freedom, I’d always be grateful just the same.



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