Their Struggle for Justice
Lola Isa and Lola Pilar struggled to live a normal life. “I dreamt of being like my grandfather who was a teacher. But the Japanese took that away from me,” Lola Isa said while crying. She said she is so enraged by the inaction of the Philippine government and that her tears are more because of anger than agony.
They were not able to continue their studies since the Japanese occupation. They also went through psychological problems as they were perceived as dirty women who worked as sex slaves for the Japanese soldiers. But Lola Isa was thankful that his husband Aneceto was able to understand what she went though. “His two sisters were also victims and they were never found at all.” Lola Pilar, on the other hand, did not tell her first husband of her ordeal. Her first husband died, they have three children. Her second husband knew about her ordeal when she went public after Henson. “He was ashamed; he even said that he married a whore. Now we are separated.”
Lola Isa has six children and Lola Pilar has seven children, two of them have died.
Despite old age, both are determined to continue fighting until they achieve justice. “We demand for not only an apology and compensation. We demand that our story be written in history, that there were women like us who they abused and some were even killed. We believe that by giving us justice this grave violence against women will never happen again,” said Lola Isa.
“We would never get tired of fighting. This struggle is not only for us but for all victims of violence against women,” Lola Pilar said. The lolas of Lila Pilipina also support the fight of other women victims of rape by American soldiers like Nicole and Vanessa as well as in other parts of the world like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Extremadura said they have exhausted all venues to make the Japanese government accountable. But justice remains elusive. The US, Canada, the Netherlands and the European Union have already passed resolutions supporting the demands of comfort women while the Philippines did not even pass one.
Victim of sex slavery during the Japanese occupation join Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luz Ilagan during the filing of a resolution urging the Japan government to formally acknowledge and apologize for their atrocities. (Photo courtesy of Gabriela Women’s Party / bulatlat.com)
On Nov. 8, Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) refiled House Resolution No. 576, a resolution urging the government of Japan to formally acknowledge, apologize for and accept its historical responsibility over the sexual slavery of young women during World War II.
“Despite having Filipino victims estimated to reach thousands, the Philippines is the only country in the world that chose not to support the claims of its comfort women. Instead, the government upheld the San Francisco Peace Pact where the State allegedly waived all further claims for compensation in exchange for nominal war reparations.” GWP said in a statement.
What is even more painful for the lolas is that their own government did not even make a move to make the Japanese government responsible for their crime. The country’s Supreme Court denied their petition, worse, the decision was even plagiarized. “It was not only plagiarized, it was also twisted,” said Extremadura referring to the decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo who allegedly lifted portions from foreign sources without proper attribution. “This is an injustice committed by our very own judicial system,” she added. (Bulatlat.com)