Iba ‘Yan pays homage to Filipina comfort women who inspire with stories of incredible strength and courage

As we celebrate the National Women’s Month, Iba ‘Yan featured the incredible, remarkable, and inspiring stories of strength, courage, and hope of Filipina comfort women who excruciatingly suffered during the Japanese occupation in the Philippines by shedding light to their traumatizing experiences and endless fight in its latest episode last Sunday, March 28.

For the first part of this feature, host Angel Locsin met Lola Narcisa Claveria, an 89-year-old who, despite her age, is still strong and can take care and even recognize every plant she has.

She willingly recalled how she was traumatized when she became one of the victims of military sexual slavery during World War II. According to her, the Japanese soldiers did not only sexually abuse her when she was around 11 to 12 years old and her sisters, but they also treated their whole family inhumanely as they physically abused her father, beat her younger siblings up, and molested her mother when they raided their home.

Lola Narcisa’s sister was brought to the Japanese’s garrison while she was brought in a house along with other women. She could vividly recall how sadistic the Japanese military men were towards her and all other Filipinas she was with. They coerced her to take a bath and raped her once she’s done.

When she was transferred to the garrison with her sisters, their lives became more miserable as they were forced to serve the Japanese men. She emotionally remembered how they all didn’t wish for the night to come because that’s when the Japanese military would rape and physically abuse them.

As the Filipino guerrillas finally rescued and freed them from the garrison, Lola Narcisa and her sister weren’t able to find their other sister anymore, as well as their parents and two siblings. Their home was already burned down, too, along with the other houses in their barrio.

Records and studies have shown that there were almost a thousand comfort women who were abused and maltreated by the Japanese colonizers. Attorney Katherine Panguban, one of the lawyers who continuously seek justice for the Filipina comfort women, disclosed that the victims already filed a complaint before the Japanese government in the 1990s and asked for an official public apology from them for all the abuse and oppression that their military men inflicted on the Filipina women during the World War II. They also asked for compensation and recognition, but the cases were unfortunately dismissed as the Japanese government argued that there was already a San Francisco Treaty between the Philippines and Japan in 1956, indicating that the war crimes committed by the Japanese colonizers were already compensated.

Thus, Lola Narcisa said that she really wants to live much longer so that she can still be able to share the younger generations the unforgettable and unforgivable plight that she and her family went through under the Japanese soldiers. She also hopes to have the chance to see her sister who she hasn’t seen nor been with ever since that darkest period of their lives. Justice is all that Lola Narcisa wants for her and all the comfort women who until now carry the trauma from the terrifying experience they had during the Japanese occupation.

Angel also met Lola Fedencia David, another victim of military sexual slavery during World War II who also seeks justice alongside other Filipina comfort women like her. Life has been difficult for them, but all her eight children were still able to pursue their studies because of her admirable hard work and determination.

But behind all the successes of Lola Fedencia as a mother is an incomparable trauma that she could never take away from her anymore. Just like Lola Narcisa, she also became one of the comfort women during the Japanese colonization era. She and her grandmother were also brought by the Japanese military to the garrison and were forced to give them service.

Lola Fedencia could recall that if she wouldn’t do what the Japanese military commanded her to do, they would physically abuse her by tying both her hands behind her back and letting her soak under the scorching sunlight. There were also instances that they would ask her to drink a pail of water and the remaining amount would be poured onto her. Besides, one of her most unforgettable experiences was when the they tore her ear. And when asked what motivates her to share her story, she said that it’s because she doesn’t want it to happen to anyone anymore.

Do not miss the next episode of Iba ‘Yan as more strong-willed women share their stories of sufferings and their stories of hope.