Comfort women, atrocities by the Japanese imperial troops which invaded the country from December 8, 1941 to March 1945 were among the issues discussed at the weekly forum ” Tapatan sa the Aristocrat” at the historic Aristocrat restaurant along Roxas boulevard , Malate, Manila.
L-R Mr. Melo Acuna ( moderator), Professor Micheal Charleston ” Xiao” Chua , Ms. Teresita Ang See , Professor Jose Antonio Custodio , Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho were some of the panelists present during the forum.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) allowed a foundation to erect on Roxas Boulevard a bronze statue in memory of Filipino women forced into sexual servitude by invading Japanese troops during World War II.
It was Mr. Manuel Chua, the father of Mr. Dorian Chua who was held prisoner and suffered torture in the hands of the Japanese troops during the closing days of the last world war that pushed for this. The plans of the marker and statue was started way back in 2014.
The plans of the statue was initially shoved off by the government of Manila since there were other pressing issues at that time.
Tulay Foundation, a Manila-based group composed of members of the Chinese-Filipino community, and was officially unveiled on Dec. 8, 2017 by officials led by NHCP executive director Ludovico Badoy.
The seven-feet bronze sculpture depicts a blindfold, grieving woman in Maria Clara traditional Filipiniana gown which was created by the same sculptor Peter de Guzman ” Memorare – Manila 1945 Monument ” erected within the historic Intramuros in time for the 50th anniversary of the end of second world war on February 18, 1995.
This was after Japanese Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Seiko Noda expressed Tokyo’s disappointment over the erection of the statue along Roxas Boulevard during her courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte last Tuesday in Malacanang.
“This monument is a reminder of the Filipino women who were victims of abuses during the occupation of the Japanese forces from 1941-1945. It took a while before they came out into the open to tell their stories,” read the inscription on the monument.
Rough estimates for women that were sexually abused during the three year period within the occupied countries held by Japan are still unclear. The number ranged from between 200,000 to as much as 500,000 women ( still unverified and still debated by scholars ). While the International Commission on Jurists put the estimate between 100,000 to 200,000 from all over Asia. Most of the women were killed and were not able to tell the stories about the abuse.
Since data gathering in the country started only during the early 1990’s, there is no sufficient data or official count can be determine. Only about 1,000 plus comfort women were part of the unofficial estimate since many choose not to tell their stories for fear of rejection by their families, friends and the society.
Some figure would put between 20,000 to as much as 100,000 Filipino women that were raped and repeatedly abused by the Japanese imperial army during the three year occupation.
Lila Pilipina documented 174 “comfort women” who had gone public and demanded justice since the early 1990’s . Another group was also formed which was called Malaya Lolas.
“This is not the first statue or marker that was installed within Manila, There is another one within Plaza Lawton with a more detailed accounts” said Professor Xiao Chua.
The marker was discreetly located in a spot within Plaza Lawton ( Liwasang Bonifacio ) near an AUV terminal.
After the forum, a wreath laying ceremonies was held at the statue and to pay tribute to all the victims of the Japanese occupation in the country.
We must learn to accept the truth and the sad chapter in our history that abuses against women were committed by the Japanese. This is a sad part of reality, but reality nonetheless.