MANILA (UCAN): The group, Flowers for Lolas Campaign, unveiled a marker in memory of victims of violence and sexual slavery during World War II inside the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Manila, the Philippines, on August. 25.
They said the marker “symbolises our collective action to remember, learn, respect and honour a past that should never be forgotten.”
Redemptorist Father Teodulo Holgado said it is “righteous and proper to remember” the Filipinos who suffered during the war “especially the thousands of comfort women who still await justice.”
Comfort women is the term used for women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army in occupied territories during World War II. It is a translation of a Japanese word meaning prostitute.
In 1993, Japan issued an apology, which most in occupied countries such as the Philippines and Korea say did not go far enough.
Father Holgado said the marker aims to remind the youth of their duty to the country.
However, a statue depicting a blindfolded comfort woman which was supposed to be installed beside the marker was reported missing. Philippine authorities removed the statue from a boulevard by the scenic Manila Bay in April 2017 supposedly to pave the way for a drainage project.
Sharon Cabusao Silva, coordinator of a group of survivors of war atrocities, said the missing statue is “part of an attempt to erase the truth and the narratives” about Filipino comfort women.
On 30 December 2018, a separate statue, installed in the Mary Mother of Mercy compound in Laguna province, was removed after the Japanese embassy expressed “disappointment.”
Silva said, “The fight for remembering the comfort women has become the fight for freedom of expression.”
She stressed, “Japan does not have the right to hinder us from memorialising the dark era of our history when Japanese soldiers disrespected, raped, and murdered our women.”
Narcisa Claveria, an 89-year-old survivor of the war, said many of the comfort women have already died “yet there is still no justice.”
She said, “Help us find the missing statue. Let us learn from the past because we do not want you to experience what we have gone through.”