NARRATIVES OF SUFFERING, HEALING AND CARING: AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDY OF WOMEN VICTIM-SURVIVORS OF MASS RAPE DURING WORLD WAR II IN THE PHILIPPINES

GINA ROSE L. CHAN
MA ANTHROPOLOGY (OCTOBER 2010)
Department of Anthropology

Abstract

This anthropological study focuses on a group of Lolas or grandmothers in the community of Brgy. Mapanique, Municipality of Candaba, Pampanga who had a uniquely horrible experience during the World War II as victims of violence and abuse when Japanese soldiers raided the village on November 23, 1944. The general objective of the study is to describe and analyze the different strategies used by the World War II victims/survivors of mass rape in Pampanga to cope and confront trauma brought about by such experience. The specific objectives are: 1. to describe the sufferings of the Lolas of Brgy. Mapanique as victim-survivors of mass rape; 2. to identify strategies they used in dealing with the sufferings they experienced; and, 3. to analyze from a feminist anthropological perspective, how the Lola’s resilience and their strategies of coping have enabled them to deal with their personal, social and economic conditions after the War. To achieve the objectives, I conducted life stories interview, participant observation and focus group discussion with 47 women survivors. A certain period of time was spent living in the community, staying with the Lolas, and observing and participating in their activities. The narratives in this study were drawn from the victim-survivors’ own voices. The result of the study showed that the women victim-survivors of rape during WWII experienced sufferings from the violence and abuse that they went through. The sufferings did not end after the war but continued long after the war has ended. However, they also experienced the processes of healing and caring that is continuing through time. It is also important to note that the Lolas of Mapanique also assert their sense of agency as women as they experience suffering, healing and caring. Their sense of agency is exercised through various forms of resistance or strategies they deemed appropriate for the situations. These are achieved within the socio-cultural context as the victim-survivors of violence and abuse are also members of a community.