Postcard for the Lolas of LILA Pilipina

Mga Lola,
Kamusta kayo? We are busy doing so many things, trying our best to share with others your stories. Itong litrato -- kita ninyo? This is a picture of the young women from the University of Miami -- many of whom are part of the Yellow Rose Society -- at their Women's History Month event, In Her Shoes. They asked me to tell your stories so they could stand in your shoes and so they could know what you have been through. Of course, nobody can really stand in your shoes for your experiences are too horrific to imagine and KNOW. When we recount them, when we try to imagine them, when we dream of them, it is still too unreal for any of us. Maybe, when you think of that time, you feel the same way. Did that happen? How could anyone -- man or woman, Japanese, American or Filipino do this violence on anyone -- man, woman, Japanese, American, Filipina, Korean, Chinese, Indonesian -- WHOMEVER? How?

Now these young women here, who heard the story of your friend, Urduja Samontes, (oh that lovely character of a woman) were so moved, that next week they are going to host a read-a-thon. I know you are asking yourselves, ano ba yan? Several of the women will get their friends to sponsor them to read one of your testimonies in a public reading. Say one peso per reading, or five pesos per reading. Really dollars, so maybe more like 100 pesos a reading or 500 pesos a reading. And they try to get as many friends as they can to sponsor them. Maybe get 25 sponsors. And if they do one reading that's 100 pesos times 25! We will gather in a public space at the University of Miami -- a place they call the Rock -- and the dalagas will read your testimonies into a microphone -- and your words will reverberate throughout the campus, hitting banyan tree barks, and library walls and reaching for the sky. We will speak your words with the reverence of prayer.

We want to share your lives experiences in order to learn from war. In order to be better warriors who fight for peace, for decency and justice.

We know that your Lolas' House has fewer inhabitants these days, but for those of you who still organize and protest and fight for justice, we know your resources are dwindling. In this way, we are hoping to raise funding for you. So you may continue your fight and we might join you.

I love you all, lolas. And the young women in this photo, who are meeting you through your testimonies and your photos and your experiences with me, they are falling in love with you too.

Mahal na mahal kayo, mga lola!


PS: For the women and men at the University of Miami who are interested in participating in our event, Read it for the "Comfort Women," on Tuesday April 15th, please email Rhea Olegario ( or Elysse Phillips (