The House We Built

When I first began my journey with the lolas back in 1999, I was researching their experiences for a screenplay, a story made up of the facts of their lives.  They allowed me and the girls, the dalagas, into their world to do that project.  On the day of our despedida party, the lolas circled me, tugged at my dress, said, "When are you going to write our real stories?"

I have been working on those stories ever since, on documenting the testimonies of 16 surviving Filipina "Comfort Women."

I have more than 40 hours of interview tapes, mostly in Tagalog, a smattering in other dialects like Ilocono, Visayan, and Waray, and on a few occasions, English.

The labor of this work was in the transcription, the translation, and then the issues of structuring the book.  I visited the women as often as I could on grants, and fellowships, on eight months of funding from Fulbright, just so I could verify the testimonies, hear them more than one time, and on seven occasions, take the lolas to their sites of abduction and to the structures where they were held prisoners. The journey was in the heart and the way the stories did, as the lolas predicted, entered the body.

After 18 years of working on LOLAS' HOUSE, I was set to  launch on September 15, at Books & Books, my amazing local bookstore in Miami.  Then Hurricane Irma hit the state of Florida.  I was unsure of power, of the state of my community, and I knew the lolas did not want to share their moment with Irma. It was with a heavy heart I postponed that launch.

LOLAS' HOUSE is built of testimonies.  The foundation of the book, the lolas of Liga na mga Lolang Pilipina.  The windows are their words.  The walls are the pages they are written on.

This book is different than any other I have written.  It is the promise I made every time I saw the women.  I will write your stories, I said. 

Here is an excerpt from LOLAS' HOUSE, posted by SALON.

The Flight of Lola Catalina Lorenzo

Order Lolas' House Here