Imelda's Secret is out.
The 200-page book, written and published by Liza Gino, is based on real-life accounts of two cousins who are still grappling with the emotional scars of being forced into sexual slavery.
"It's a story about Imelda and Gloria... Gloria told her story and when she did, Imelda witnessed everything that went wrong in her life because of that. That's why she kept it a secret," Gino explained. "I really want to educate people about this, create an awareness, and hopefully get some kind of justice or acknowledgement to these women because they are victims of war."
Imelda and Gloria were among some 200,000 comfort women whose childhood and dignity were stripped off during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II in 1945. Gino noted Imelda and Gloria were abducted from their families.
"The Filipina comfort women is not part of our written history. In fact, the government in 2017 or 2018 put a monument on Roxas Boulevard but it was unceremoniously taken down I think within six months, and then it was found in some warehouse. They didn't want to intimidate or antagonize our Japanese creditors because they are our largest creditor," Gino said.
Imelda's Secret also touched on the allegations made by some Japanese authorities who called the comfort women 'prostitutes.' "The Japanese nation is saying that we hired prostitutes, they were not forced in to sexual slavery. But would you really hire an 8 year old?," Gino asked.
Historians say that until the end of World War II, Japan coerced and lured women from the Philippines, Korea, China, and Indonesia into military-run rape centers in the Asia Pacific region.