Digital Museum:The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women's Fund
 Atonement Project of the Asian Women's Fund >Projects by country or region - Philippines

 Projects by country or region - Philippines
Later, the three women said they were glad to have used some of the money given in atonement to undergo physical examinations at a major hospital --- it was the first such chance they had had. The medical and welfare support projects were designed in accordance with such requests of elderly people.

The projects began in the Philippines in January 1997, after the Philippine Government's Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Asian Women's Fund signed a Memorandum. The Fund's financial resources were used to hire social workers and provide services in accordance with the wishes of individual victims. These services included the provision of wheelchairs and pharmaceuticals, barrier-free renovations, and nursing-care services. Ten social workers had been hired by the end of 1999, to provide one social worker for about 10 victims. The social workers pay regular visits to the lolas they are assigned to, and carefully monitor the physical and psychological health of the elderly former comfort women and any changes in their living conditions. In this way, the young social workers also have opportunities to learn from a generation of women who experienced the war, and to think about war and peace, and about women's rights.

Applicant authentication was done by public prosecutors attached to the above-mentioned Department of Justice of the Philippine Government. Interviews were held after receipt of applications, then the documents were verified, further detailed questions were posed, and each application was either approved or rejected.

Many former comfort women in the Philippines married after the war and live with their children and grandchildren. Many who did not marry live with members of their extended family, which often includes one or more nephews, nieces, brothers and sisters. Many who received atonement money said they had lived in poverty, dependent on family members or neighbors for a long time, and the atonement money had made it possible to return the favor before they died. In many cases, the only money they spent on themselves was for visits to the doctor, using the rest for their family members and/or neighbors. Family members reported that some of the atonement money was used for such purposes as constructing a small house or a concrete floor to replace old flooring ruined by a leaky roof, buying rice seedlings and having their family grow rice, buying a refrigerator and more nutritious food for their mothers, and buying a wheelchair for outings. One woman used part of the money to open a store selling miscellaneous items.(Movie)

Anastasia CortezMs. Cortez, who had received Fund benefits with Ms. Henson in August 1996, bought a house and land, renovated the house, and added rooms for her family to live with her. She had a phone installed and purchased a VCR and a large TV. She opened up a small shop facing the street to sell everyday items to students going to and from school. She said that when she was 20 her husband, a soldier in the Philippine army, had been made a prisoner of war by the Japanese army, but escaped and returned to her. However, he was quickly recaptured, and they were both taken away together by Japanese forces. Her husband was killed in the Santiago Fortress, and she was kept there and frequently raped by Japanese officers and soldiers over a period of five months. Later she remarried --- her second husband was a policeman who had helped her. She has six children and 25 grandchildren, and lives with four of her children.
Following up Projects after the end of the AWF

LILA-Pilipina eventually decided to help former comfort women who were planning to receive Fund project benefits. Some people dissatisfied with this decision formed a new group, Malaya Lolas. However, in January 2000 the members of this group, too, submitted applications to the Asian Women's Fund. The Asian Center for Women's Human Rights (ASCENT), headed by Ms. Indai Sajor, took the position to respect the wishes of the comfort women and cooperate with those who wish to accept the projects.

The application deadline was 12 August 2001. All approved applicants received Fund benefits, and projects in the Philippines have since been concluded.

Final report regarding the medical and welfare support project was submitted by the Philippines Government in March 2002.(Full Text)

In a report on the completion of the Project written by the Ministry of Social Development of the Philippine government, which functioned as the liaison for the Atonement Project in the Philippines, a request was made following the completion of the Project for the construction of medical facilities for the elderly, which can be used by elderly comfort women victims. It was one of the proposals for the future. In response to the request, the Japanese government continued with aid for the elderly, which it had provided as grassroots cooperation through a grant for the purpose of human security. This is a part of the Fund's maintenance project following the completion of the Atonement Project in the Philippines which ended in September 2002. Here is the project outline, which consists of three points:
  1. Plan for the expansion and completion of the welfare facility for the elderly in Quezon City in the Manila metropolitan area
  2. Plan for the expansion of facilities for underprivileged elderly women
  3. Plan for the expansion and completion of examination rooms for the elderly within Philippine General Hospital.



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