Tuesday, April 5, 2011
We give thanks that our lives touched yours on life’s journey
For the time wqe walked with you on this earth
For the time that we meet you in our dreams:
We thank you our beloved Lola Ammonita
And will remember your courage, your deep commitment
To tell the truth, no matter what it cost you stood firm and spoke your truth to all the powerful – in Tokyo, in Geneva, in New York.
You shared your truth with all the other lolas, the harmonies,
The grand mothers of Asia.
Who will forget you speaking at the World Court of women in Cape Town
A frail and gentle creature, speaking truth to power
Who will not remember you addressing the women and Sarajevo
Entreating them not to let silence engulf
The terrible violence that had been done to them
speak, you told the women, because in speaking too, there is healing.
We wept: We all learned from you, took hope from you
Took a little of the magic of your wisdom, you gave so easily to everyone:
Yet, you had time to laugh; to sing, to dance.
You never forgot to hold on to your dreams:
And yes, you loved to dress in beautiful clothes
You had so much pain; yet you turned that pain into great courage,
Never giving up: you have taught your daughters well
And so, with our deepest love, sighs from the deep sea of affection
Laughter from the colorful field of the spirit, tears from the endless heaven
Of memories, we light our lamps to show you on your way
Your daughters in Asia: Corinne, Nelia, Jiaxiang, Siriporn, Aruna, Eileen, Meena, Farida, Neelam and Ita (of the Asian Human Rights Council)/ November 4, 2005.
Note: Filipino Grandma “Lola” Ammonita Balajadia, a victim of Japanese military sexual slavery, passed away in October 2005 at the age of 78 after being stricken with cancer. She served as President of the Lolas Kampanyera Survivors Organization since its founding in 2000. She has spoken and participated in several Courts of Women public hearings as well as international conferences organized by AWHRC in various countries of the world.
To those who sent us e-mails for the book, Justice with Healing, we apologize for not replying to your queries. However, if you wish to reorder, we will be more than glad to accommodate you.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
With Lola Menen Castillo speaking before Amnesty International in Bangkok
I am writing here to share my story as the daughter who waited on the sidelines, sometimes assisted the person she loved most—her mother, to understand her cause, her passion and persistence.
I remember how it all began. I was 11 and we went to Seoul. There was a meeting and it was in December. The experience was a Iot of firsts. It was the first time that I experienced snow. It was the first time that I visited South Korea and the first time I was able to see my mother in action.
That experience brought the birth of Task Force on the Filipino Comfort Women and Lola Rosa Henson. My mother would sometimes bring her to our home and I would often wonder why she would cry as she told her story. I did not understand a lot of things at that time. I was a child then.
It was painful to see my mother away. I had to grow up without her. I learned to be strong and independent without her. Because in my heart, I knew she was doing something good, something right.
She raised me to look at life with optimism. She said that we should let go of worries, forget about things beyond our control and think about what we can do.
And as I gained experience, skills and maturity, I would sometimes be invited to immerse myself in her work. I would be tasked to care for the Lolas, to accompany them and to translate their stories to those who would listen.
I would write their stories. And I would sometimes look at my mother in wonder. She knew all of the comfort women’s names. She knew their relatives. She was close to their families.
In rare occasions that we are alone, she would sometimes blurt out things that would catch me by surprise. My mother’s mother died at 53. I never met her. My mother said she feels blessed. She may have lost her own mother, but she gained hundreds of mothers. She was referring to the Lolas. The Lolas would treat her like their own and vice versa.
My mother is a strong woman. It was an unspoken trait that we have. I never dared cry in front of her as she never cried in front of me. But there is always an exception. Heartbreaking moments when tears would fall uncontrollably are exempted. These were moments when one of the Lolas die.
And each time, I can feel my heart being eaten up. Is there still hope for the Lolas? They kept their secret for so long. And when they told their story, most of them did not have enough time to see it through.
When the Lola’s daughters would ask me, “When would justice be given?” My heart would be eaten up once more. There is no definite answer to that question.
But then, there are the good people, who would help us tell the world what has happened. We have travelled far and wide. Lobbied like crazy and yet—time is running out. I want the Lolas to experience what is just and due for them while they are still alive.
I don’t want my mother’s love and passion, her commitment to the Filipino Comfort Women for 17 years, to be all in vain. Given the choice, I want us all to be alive to see the day.
Help us with this cause. Let’s make the Japanese government see that they have to do what is just. Legal compensation and a public apology—for all victims of Japanese Sexual Slavery in World War II. Now.
Let us show the world that love, goodness, kindness and justice exists.
A visual CD was released by the Visual Worship Institute of South Korea consisting of beautiful photos of the remaining comfort women of the Lolas Kampanyera. They travelled to Manila, Arayat, Pampanga and Roxas City, Capiz to photo document the persevering Filipino Comfort Women Survivors this 2009.
Song of the Lolas: Beyond the Healing was done in honor of the Lolas Kampanyera, survivors of the World War II Japanese Military Sexual Slavery in the Philippines.
Director: Cheol Ham
Music: Aija Kim, John Lennon and Ennio Morricone
Produced by the Visual Worship Institute
2009 All rights reserved by the Visual Worship Institute
"Lola" means "grandmother" and is also a term of endearment to express affection and respect for the elderly in the Philippines.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Fedencia(3rd from left) leads the Quilt Parade of the LOLAS Kampanyera Organization held in January 31, 2001 at Quezon City, Philippines. Other comfort women Lolas join her in the display of hand made quilts depicting each Lola’s story of sex slavery by the Japanese military during WW II.
Fedencia (sitting in front, 3rd from left) shown in photo with other Filipino comfort women survivors in the Philippines during the Lolas Christmas party in December 1999 organized by friends and supporters of the AWHRC, the Zonta Club of Makati-Paseo de Roxas and the Buhay Foundation for Women and the Girl Child.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Last Friday, July 25th, at the Ateneo de Manila University, the students took some time out of their busy schedules to attend the Forum called "Cry for Justice." Some 80-100 students, faculty and others came to hear presentations about the shameful history of World War II atrocities that took place here in the Philippines and in other parts of Asia during WW II.
This event was sponsored by the ALIWW (Ateneo Library For Women's Writings) and its executive director Ms. Rica Bolipata-Santos was there to greet the people in attendance. The afternoon also heard from Ms. Nelia Sancho, the National Coordinator of the Lolas Kampanyera Survivors organization who provided a slide show presentation which informed us about the history and background of the phenomenon called the Japanese military sexual slavery or the comfort women system, as well as the current situation for the Filipino elderly women survivors called the Lolas and the Japanese government's current stance towards them. Ms. Sancho also took some time to launch the newest book of testimonies from Lolas who survived the ordeal of being sex slaves of the Japanese military during WW II. The book is called 'Justice with Healing (Anthology of Stories of Former Sex Slaves in the Philippines)', which is available through ALIWW or the office of the Lolas Kampanyera Survivors Organization.
Other forum panelists were Canadian teacher, Mr. Greg van Vugt, who spoke about his recent trip to China and South Korea where a group of Canadian teachers were exposed to the history of World War II. The group of 32 teachers was sponsored by Canada ALPHA (Association of Learning and Preservation of WW II History in the Asia Pacific) which arranged for the teachers to visit monuments, historic sights, and to meet with survivors of horrific actions during that war. The most touching for Mr. van Vugt of his history education tour was meeting with the former sex slaves in Shanghai, Nanjing and Seoul. He shared some of their stories.
Most importantly the forum heard from the Lolas themselves. First to speak was Lola Fedencia David, 80, of Dasol, Pangasinan, who gave her personal testimony of what happened to her during that sad and tragic time in Philippine History. She was 14 years old when the Japanese forces forcibly abducted her and brought to the Japanese garrison to serve as a sex slave for the soldiers. She gave a passionate talk and many in the audience were visibily moved.
The final appeal was given by Lola Lety Guinto of the Lolas Kampanyera for the passage of HRN 124 in the Philippine House of Representatives and the draft Post War Compensation Bill for Victims of Japanese Military Sexual Coercion in WW II now pending in the Japanese Diet. Finally, Ms. Mariquit Soriano, of Buhay Foundation for Women and the Girl Child, who moderated the afternoon announced that the special movie screening of “Iris Cheng’s Rape of Nanking” was to be reset to another date because of the limited time left for the Forum. The co sponsoring organizations of ALIWW – the Lolas Kampanyera Survivors Organization, the Buhay Foundation for Women and the Girl Child as well as the Asian Women Human Rights Council thanked ALIWW for holding the Forum to listen to the Lolas testimonies and providing space for discussion of historical lessons and events in World War which impacted on the Filipino women.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Promotion of Resolution for Issues concerning Victims of Wartime Sexual Coercion Act (Bill)
In view of the fact that prior to and during World War II, with the involvement of the Impreial Japanese Army and Navy, organized and prolonged coercion of sexual acts were carried out against women and, because of such coercion, the dignity and honor of the women were severely violated and considering that it is the imperative task for the nation of Japan , under its responsibility to take quick steps to restore the honor of the women, the objectives of this Act lie in providing the necessary fundamental grounds for the resolution of the issues concerning the victims of wartime sexual coercion and, by doing so, in improving the trustworthy relationship between the peoples of the concerned nations and our people and in making it possible for our country to occupy an honored place in international society.
In this act "wartime sexual coercion" means the act of organized and prolonged sexual coercion of women, who were recruited against their will with direct or indirect involvement of the imperial army and navy before and during the past World War, as well as the series of military actions including incidents prior to it.
In this act, "victims of wartime sexual coercion" are the women who have suffered from sexual coercion during the wartime and are not those who had a permanent domicile registered under Koseki-ho (Act no. 26 of the 3rd year of Taisho),
(Measures to Restore Honor)
The government must singularly express an apology for the violation of the honor and dignity of the victims of wartime sexual coercion and implement necessary measures to restore their honor as soon as possible.
The measures in the preceding paragraph shall include monetary payment to the victims of wartime sexual coercion.
The government must estavlish fundamental policies on measures for the resolution of the issues concerning the victims of wartime sexual coercion ("the fundamental policies" hereafter).
The fundamental policies shall prescribe the following terms:
(1) The terms concerning the contents of the measures and the methods of their implementation as stated in the previous Article.
(2) The terms concerning the matters such as negotiations with the concerned states that would be necessary to implement the measures as stated in the previous Article.
(3) The terms concerning the investigation of yet to be uncovered circumstances of wartime sexual coercion and the damages caused by them.
(4) Other than the terms stated in these three paragraphs, the terms that are necessary for the acceleration of a resolution with regard to the victims of wartime sexual coercion.
(Care for Relationship with the Governments of the Concerned States)
In implementation of the measures as stated in Article 3, bearing in mind the relationship with the international treaties and other international agreements that our country has concluded, the government shall exercise special care for its process, in discussing the matters with the governments and other authorities of the concerned states , and securing their understanding and cooperation.
(Care for Human Rights of Victims of Wartime Sexual Coercion)
In implementation of the measures as stated in Article 3, the government, bearing in mind the intention of the victims of wartime sexual coercion, shall fully exercise care for their human rights.
In carrying out the investigation as stated in Article 4, Paragraph 2, (3), the government shall exercise care not to violate the honor of the victims of wartime sexual coercion and of other concerned individuals.
(People's Recognition and Understanding)
In implemetation of the measures as stated in Article 3, the government shall try to secure recognition of and understanding for the measures among the general public.
(Measures including Budget)
The government shall secure the budgetary, legal or other measures that are necessary for the promotion of a resolution of the issues concerning the victims of wartime sexual coercion.
(Report to the Diet)
Every year, the government shall report to the Diet on the measures that it has implemented for the resolution of the issues concerning the victims of wartime sexual coercion and on the findings produced by the investigation as stated in Article 4, Paragraph 2, (3) and it shall also publicly announce the summary of the report.
(Council for Promotion of Resolution for Issues concerning Victims of Wartime Sexual Coercion)
The Council for Promotion of Resolution for Issues concerning Victims of Wartime Sexual Coercion (the "Council", herein after) shall be established at Naikakuhu (the Ministry of the Cabinet).
The Council has the following administrative functions:
(1) To outline the draft fundamental policies.
(2) To arrange the necessary coordination of the pertinent administrative institutions regarding measures to resolve issues concerning the victims of wartime sexual coercion.
(3) To promote the investigation in accordance with Article 4, Paragraph (3).
(4) Other than stated in the previous three sub-paragraphs, to examine the important matters regarding the promotion of the resolution of issues concerning the victims of wartime sexual coercion and to promote the implementation of pertinent measures relative to them.
The Council, when it considers it necessary to carry out the business within its mandate, may ask the heads of concerned administrative authorities and concerned local authorities to cooperate in the submission of documents, clarification of materials and so on.
The council, when it considers it necessary to carry out business within its mandate, may request the necessary cooperation of any persons other than those stated in the previous paragraph.
(Organization of the Council)
The Council consists of a President and Council Members.
The Prime Minister shall appoint the President.
The Prime Minister shall appoint the Council Members from among the Chief Cabinet Minister, the heads of the pertinent administrative authorities and Ministers with the special mandate stipulated in Article 9, 1 of the Establishment of Cabinet Act.
(Committee for Promotion of the Investigation)
The Committee for Promotion of the Investigation shall be set up under the Council in order to authorize it to carry out the tasks stated in Article 10, 2 (3).
The Committee for Promotion of the Investigation, regularly or whenever necessary, shall formulate the progress of the investigation as well as its results in accordance with Article 4, Paragraph 2, (3) and report them to the President.
The Prime Minister shall appoint the members of the Committee for Promotion of the Investigation from among those staff of the pertinent administrative authorities with the appropriate knowledge, expertise and experience.
(Delegated Legislation by Ordinances)
In addition to what has been stated in the three previous articles, necessary mechanisms concerning the organization and management of the Council shall be legislated by ordinances.
(Tentative Translation by Sen. Shoji Motooka's Office, March 2001)
Special Thanks to Mr. Ken Arimitsu for providing us with this document.