First comes the knock at the door. Timid. Small, like a tree branch scratching the side of the house. The door creaks open and a little gray head pushes into the room. The voice, soft as the knocking, “Ako na?” My turn?
In 1999, M. Evelina Galang began interviewing the women of Lolas’ House, sixteen Filipina women who survived the brutal sexual enslavement by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. Galang’s journey would take her to the Philippines several times over the next two decades as she joined the Lolas’ efforts to tell their stories and to fight for international justice. Lolas’ House is the culmination of this monumental work and a testimony to the resiliency of the human spirit.
Banyan, Asian American Writers Collective & Riksha Magazine, were honored to host M. Evelina Galang, author of Lolas’ House: Filipino Women Living with War, on December 9, 2017. Galang shared several powerful excerpts from her book and spoke about the ongoing campaign of awareness. Vocalist Lani Montreal & guitarist/composer Patrick Guarano shared their lullaby, Uyayi ni Nanay, written for the women of the Philippines who sacrificed their lives for freedom and justice. The event was a coming together of community, many of whom were unaware of this history, and the space allowed the voices of the Lolas to be heard and felt, despite the passing of many of them in recent years.
We are deeply grateful to M. Evelina Galang for sharing her passion and work. We would also like to thank Lani Montreal & Patrick Guarano, Debby Preiser and the Oak Park Public Library, The Book Table, Paul Goyette and all the members of Riksha and Banyan who helped organize the event.