Pulitzer prize winning journalist Alex Tizon died on March 24, at the age of 57, leaving behind his legacy, which includes articles like “Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self.” His last piece of work, “My Family’s Slave,” is a personal account of a heart-breaking secret upheld by his family.

Tizon penned down a detailed piece about how his family had kept a slave for 56 years, named “Lola”, whose real name was Eudocia Tomas Pulido, which became the cover story for the Atlantic’s June edition.

The late author’s story begins from the end, as he recalled how he carried Lola’s ashes back to a rural village in Manila, Philippines, where she belonged.

Next, he goes back in time when Lola, 18, was handed over to Tizon's mother who was 12 at the time. Although, Lola was elder to his mother, the latter never had any doubts as to where Lola’s place in both home and society was. His mother was quick enough to learn how to blame all of her naughty deeds on Lola, who was then beaten up with a belt as punishment.

Years passed by but Lola’s condition did not improve. Once Tizon’s mother got married and moved to the United States, she took Lola along, with the fake promise of giving her an allowance to send back to her family in Philippines.

It was not until Tizon was 11-years-old that he understood that Lola was enslaved by his family. She was screamed at, abused,  given scraps and leftovers to eat and did not have a chamber of her own even though she diligently carried out all the household chores and rarely stepping out of the house or having a hobby she could call her own.

“She wasn’t kept in leg irons, but she might as well have been. So many nights, on my way to the bathroom, I’d spot her sleeping in a corner, slumped against a mound of laundry, her fingers clutching a garment she was in the middle of folding,” writes Tizon.

To the society around, Tizon's family were "model immigrants, a poster family... We never talked about Lola."

Despite their mother’s best efforts, Tizon and his siblings grew really close to Lola and began seeing her as a mother-figure. They even tried to persuade their mother to accept that she had unfairly treated Lola her entire life but it all went in vain. Failing to do so, Tizon tried to make up for it by taking Lola back to her village, her real “home,” where she refused to stay back. Lola had molded herself seamlessly into slavery by then.

“Dad used to say she was simple,” Tizon wrote. “I wondered what she could have been if, instead of working at the rice fields at age 8, she had learned to read and write.”

Even though Tizon claims that he did everything in his power to emancipate Lola in the last few days of his life, people on social media, after reading “My Family’s Slave,” disagreed. Even though they don’t deny the fact that the personal piece is “beautifully” written, they do not necessarily think that Tizon should have waited for 40 years of his life to take some form of action against the inhumane treatment that Lola was being subjected to.

People have also questioned the reason Tizon refrained from mentioning that his “aunt Lola” was a slave his family had owned for years in his memoir where he mentions her name 4 times. Some alleged that he intended to financially benefit from the soul-stirring reality by composing an individual article that solely focused on it.