Lolas’ House: Filipino Women Living with War
Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalist, 2018.
Lolas’ House tells the stories, in unprecedented detail, of sixteen surviving Filipino “comfort women.” During World War II more than 1,000 Filipino women and girls were kidnapped by the Imperial Japanese Army. They were taken from their homes, snatched from roadsides, and chased down in fields. Overall the Japanese forced 400,000 women across Asia into sexual slavery. M. Evelina Galang began researching these stories in the 1990’s as 173 lolas, “grannies” in Tagalog, emerged after decades of shame and silence to demand recognition and justice from the Japanese government.
Galang enters into the lives of the surviving women at Lolas’ House, a community center for comfort women’s organizing in metro Manila. She accompanies them to the sites of their abduction and protests with them at the gates of the Japanese embassy. In Lolas’ House, each woman gives her testimony, even though the women relive their horror at each telling, they offer their stories so that no Filipina, no woman anywhere, should suffer wartime rape and torture again.
Lolas’ House is not only a book of testimony and documentation, it is a book of witness, of survival, and of the female body. Intensely personal and globally political, it is the legacy of Lolas’ House to the world.
” This book is the last stand of women who survived the kidnapping and rape that was Japanese army strategy in World War II. Courageous, aged grandmothers tell their stories and show their wounded bodies to M. Evelina Galang as evidence that these crimes occurred. Hopefully, Lolas’ House will end denial and get justice, reparations, and a place in the history books for these women and their 400,000 sisters. “
– Maxine Hong Kingston
” A riveting work of profound historical importance, Lolas’ House gives lasting voice to the Filipino comfort women—these perishing victims of the Imperial Japanese Army of World War II who wait still for an apology from Japan. This is M. Evelina Galang at her courageous, literary best. “
– Andrew X. Pham
” Lolas’ House gives voice to the Filipina comfort women whose stories we must allow to enter our bodies. It is in letting our tears flow and our hearts break that we also share the lolas’ pleas for all wars to end. M. Evelina Galang has given us a beautiful gift borne of her desire to seek justice for the lolas, and for us to receive the gift of healing through storytelling. “
– Leny Strobel
” This work is a monument to the Lolas and to the power of their protest; it is their message to the world about how to be truly human. M. Evelina Galang brings us into the Lolas’ House, and we feel them in our hearts. “
– Johanna Poethig
” An extraordinary book, Lolas’ House will historically endure as a beautifully written record of collective survival and struggle among women against male sexual violence. “
– Caroline Norma
” M. Evelina Galang contributes powerful evidence for a war crime that has been structurally overlooked and downplayed. And most important, she gives the Filipina victims a powerful voice. “
– Griselda Molemans
” Lola’s House is an unprecedented work of testimony and witness. “
” The strength, courage and perseverance of these women is, truthfully, sort of life changing. Crimes against women are still under-reported and often go unrecognised. This is a book that shines a light in a dark place. “
” Galang provides the testimonies of the lolas in their own words, giving voice to the victims, giving them ownership over the language of rape. “
” It is a work of documentation, a vehicle of witnessing, and an archive of war stories with testimonies of strong, fearless elders. “
” The Lolas are alive in Galang’s books—not mere words on a page, not mere subjects of research and reportage or a scholarly treatise (though Galang, too, is a scholar),… not mere figures from history. The Lolas, in Galang’s words, become like family. “
” The book is a reminder that it is difficult to heal without airing your story of pain and survival, and those stories are not simple. They aren’t just accounts of the events. “