Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lola Estrella



Lola Narcissa tells this story about her family. During the war, the Japanese took all the girls from the house and kept them in the town hall. That was the comfort station, the garrison. Lola Narcissa was only 12. Her oldest sister, Estrella was in Manila during that time of abduction. The sisters never saw one another again. It was assumed that Estrella was dead.

More than fifty years after the war, during a demonstration in Metro Manila, some twelve hours from their province in Abra, Lola Narcissa steps into a local convenience store to use the bathroom. Walking through the store, a woman caught her eye. She looked familiar. Walking back through the store, Lola Narcissa stopped and asked her where she was from. The woman named Lola Narcissa's hometown. Lola Narcissa asked another question. What was your mother's name? The woman answered. What was your father's name? Another answer. And finally, she smiled and said, what is your name? Lola Estrella named herself and Lola Narcissa wrapped her arms around her. But wait, that is not the end of this amazing story.

Anong yari? Lola Narcissa wanted to know. Where were you?

The war, answered the older sister. I was taken by the Japanese soldiers. Ginagamit nila ako. They used her. She too was a former comfort woman.

Talaga? the younger sister asked in disbelief. Lola Narcissa never imagined they were experiencing the same physical and mental abuse so faraway from one another.

What are you doing here, Lola Estrella wanted to know.

Lola Narcissa was in the street just around the corner from Lola Estrella's store, fighting for justice.

And that is the story of how the sisters were separated by war, and fifty odd years later brought back together because of that same war. Now Lola Estrella joins her younger sister in the streets. She too fights for justice.

Never again. No to another generation of comfort women.

When you sign the petition, when you write to your congressperson, when you spread the word about this fight, you are saying no to the abduction and systematic rape of the women of WWII. You are saying it was an unacceptable and inhumane act then. It is an unacceptable and inhumane act now. What is this act of aggression against our mothers, our sisters, our daughters and our most beautiful nieces? You are saying we do not treat our women this way. We honor them. We respect them. No to another generation of comfort women. That is what you're saying.

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