Thursday, July 5, 2007
I arrived at LOLAS' HOUSE on the fourth of July. They were singing into a mic to images on a videoke machine. They were so involved that they didn't even see me standing there, but when they did, OH BOY! So many hugs and kisses.
That afternoon I shared with them the great news from the United States supporters -- the Friends of the Lolas in America -- working so hard to pass House Resolution 121. I shared with them the names and faces of the local UM Chapter of 121 Coalition and the work of 121 Coalition at large. We talked about Mike Honda and the rest of the "Congristas" in Washington DC.
As I spoke in my broken Tagalog, LILA Pilipina director, Rechilda Extremadura translated the more difficult ideas and phrases. Meanwhile, the lolas read the messages many of the supporter sent to them in the green book. One lola told me it made her feel so good to see how "fat the hearts" of the supporters are in America.
They are really grateful for the efforts of House Resolution 121. They hope it passes and that Japan takes note.
They hope that rather than speaking to the press or to President Bush or to members of the Diet that the Japanese government talks to them directly.
They are so glad for our efforts, but that is not to say are sitting still in Manila. The lolas of LILA Pilipina and their friends and family -- Friends of Lolas -- are still campaining hard.
They are happy that so many of us have joined their efforts.
(If you are interested in starting a Friends of Lolas Chapter in your area, email me at email@example.com)
Sunday, July 1, 2007
On Wednesday the 27th, UM 121 Coalition team visited the National Alliance of Nurturing for the Aged and Youth -- otherwise known as NANAY -- the tagalog word for mother.
N A N A Y, Inc. is a charitable organization made up of individuals who are committed to providing psychological, social, health and emotional support for youth and elders 60 years of age or older. Its major goal is to preserve cultural heritage and to assist, support and promote the welfare and well-being of youth and elders in the community, irrespective of race, sex or creed.
Perhaps this was the most intense of the public readings of survivors' testimonies. Many of the women were living in the Philippines during the war -- some too young to remember, or old enough to know they were being hidden, but too young to understand why.
After the readings, we sat with the women as they dictated their letters to us, or wrote letters to Congresspersons in their native dialects. While many understood the effect that the "comfort women" issue had on the Philippines, many of the letters took note of the women taken from so many countries.
As one of the coordinators translated some of the letters, she pointed to half finished sentences or ambiguous terms. "It means they know," she told me. "They know and they cannot say it or they don't want to remember it."
I offer some of the women's translated letters here.
I am happy here at our Nanay Center -- that we can celebrate together. However, there are other conditions (that the writer refuses to remember).
Please support House Resolution 121.
North Miami, FL
I am 87 years old now, but when I reflect on all the things that happened to our womanhood, the time of the Japanese war, I am moved to beg you to support House Resolution 121 -- to be united in the cause.
North Miami, FL
I want to ask help for the old women. Please support House Resolution 121.
Thank you a lot.
Please support House Resolution 121 so the Japanese government will apologize to the comfort women in all countries the Japanese occupied in the second world war.
Thank you very much for your kind support for the resolution.
North Miami, FL
I am saddened ... Would you please support House Resolution 121 -- to pass it among you ...
US Rep. Mike Honda
15th District (CA)
For Immediate Release: Contact: Daniel Kohns 202.225.3327
June 26, 2007 firstname.lastname@example.org
HONDA APPLAUDS OVERWHELMING COMMITTEE PASSAGE OF ‘COMFORT WOMEN’ RESOLUTION
Very Confident of Full House Approval
Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) issued the following statement regarding today’s House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ 39-2 passage of H. Res. 121, Mr. Honda’s resolution calling on the Government of Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner” for coercion of young women into sexual slavery before and during World War II:
“Today’s overwhelming vote was a resounding victory not only for the hundreds-of-thousands of former ‘comfort women’, but is a tremendous affirmation of Congress’ commitment to upholding universal human rights. I am immensely grateful to Speaker Pelosi for her steadfast support of this legislation, and to Chairman Tom Lantos, Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and subcommittee chair Rep. Eni Faleomavaega for their leadership and enthusiastic support of this resolution. They, and the 37 other members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs who voted in favor understand the importance of recognizing this gross human rights violation. On behalf of the comfort women, I was deeply moved by their compassion. I look forward to my resolution moving to the House floor in the near future, where I am very confident it will pass by a wide margin.”