This storybook highlights stories of Filipino ‘comfort women’ survivors

Published April 11, 2021, 9:07 AM

by Gabriela Baron

A 63-page illustration storybook highlights the stories of Filipino “comfort women” survivors known as “Lolas,” told from the perspectives of their daughters and granddaughter.

(Photo courtesy of Gantala Press)

“My Mother is More Than a Comfort Woman” features four short narratives on “comfort women” survivors in the Philippines. The book is presented in three languages— Filipino, English, and Japanese.

Comfort women were the victims of the Japanese military’s sexual slavery system during World War II.

“There is an urgent need to find an alternative way to convey the legacy of the Lolas. Since many Lolas spoke up in the early 1990s, they have continued fighting for justice, sharing their wartime experiences, and protesting against wards in order to avoid generation of ‘comfort women’,” wrote the Storybook Project Team.

(Photo courtesy of Gantala Press)

The team also underscored the youth’s role in “carrying the legacies of the Lolas,” noting that it is getting “more and more difficult” to hear firsthand life stories from the Lolas themselves since most of them are already in their nineties and many Lolas have passed away and there are only few books or other media focusing on the life stories of the Lolas.

As of 2019, only three Lolas were still sharing their wartime experiences, according to the team.

“The authors wanted to make something that was not directly depending on the Lolas themselves, but on younger generations who can act on it,” the team said.

(Photo courtesy of Gantala Press)

The authors interviewed the second or third generation of the Lolas’ families.

“In many cases, when the ‘comfort women’ survivors were interviewed, the focus of the interviews tended to be limited to their wartime experiences. Interviewing the family members of the Lolas was a way to find out their perspectives on their mothers or grandmother, to learn how they have lived after the war and how they associated with their family and many other aspects of their lives,” the team added.

“We hope this book can honor the Lolas, or Filipino ‘comfort women’ survivors, as marvelous women who have continued fighting for justice and lived through the years despite all the difficulties.”

The book is published by independent feminist publisher Gantala Press. Founded in 2015 by an all-Filipina team, Gantala Press banners women’s stories and issues in their publications, small press fairs, discussions, workshops, and their participation in people’s movements.

Proceeds from the book will support Liga ng mga Lolang Pilipinas or Lila Pilipinas, an organization of Filipina comfort women.

Established as the Task-Force on Filipino Comfort Women (TFFCW) in 1992, Lila Pilipinas supports the Lolas to speak up, demand justice, and file lawsuits against the Japanese government.

The group has documented 174 cases of testimonies of Filipino “comfort women.”