The Grief of The Invisible Class

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A paragraph in Manolo ‘s entry on The Long View Insecurity and The Invisible Class caught my eye:

And meanwhile, there continue the biting criticisms. Blogger Caffeinesparks puts it this way, reacting to the outpouring of sympathy and shock over the death of Amiel Alcantara, the child accidentally run over in Ateneo de Manila: ““in the shanties along Pasig river, a kid playing falls into the water—drowned. Dead; a street urchin playing on the island along the road, runs after a kitten, gets run over—dead; babies die because their mothers live too far from health care centers or can only afford a manghihilot; 10 mothers dead a day—due to childbirth.” These are the grim and unnoticed statistics—so plentiful as to be unfelt—of what she calls the Invisible Class.

Why is it a biting criticism? If the blogger had access to the mortality statistics, why not write about it instead of criticizing the sympathy showered over Amiel Alcantara’s death? And perhaps, take it from there?

Just because they are seemingly the Invisible Class does not mean I do not get shocked over their deaths. The list of senseless deaths of children which I compiled two months ago is but a mere fraction of children mortality statistics. It does not mean I don’t reach out to them. Rich or poor, the pain is universal. Newly-bereaved parent experience the most devastating life-changing event. The pain is unbearable that from the start, one cannot even think of surviving the unthinkable. We reach out to them through interviews via radio station because radio has coverage all over the Philippines. Never mind the fact that I speak broken Tagalog and I falter as I explain the grief process. Bereaved parents understand the language of grief all too well.

Other silent organizations and individuals like Gina de Venecia’s INA Foundation, Cathy Babao-Guballa’s Grief Share and Agnes Prieto’s grief advocacy offer comfort to those that need it. True, not all deaths get the same media mileage as Amiel Alcantara but it does not mean we do not get shocked over other people’s loss.

I encounter all sorts of death from all walks of life in the course of my grief support advocacy. Why don’t I write about it? First, I do not keep or have access to the database of children’s mortality in the Philippines. Secondly, I am not a reporter. I blog to provide grief education. Third, even if I have database access, I need to respect the privacy of the bereaved. In the case of Amiel Alcantara’s death, the father himself wanted to keep his grief as private as possible but soon realized that there is a message. He agreed to the media coverage because “That very day when that sandwich was not finished, it became and symbolized a sense of concern. There is more to that.” It also helped that Pepe is also an old friend of my husband and we felt a connection with his loss enough to write about it in my blog.

More than the sympathy and the support to the so-called Invisible Class is facing the root cause of the deaths. I realized long ago that my advocacy does not end with grief support alone. The Compassionate Friends is one organization that is sad to welcome new members but are willing to help when bereaved parents seek us for comfort.

Come to think of it, some of these children’s deaths are preventable.

Hand in hand with my grief advocacy are three areas that I work with:

1. Child survival. More than the sheer number of children’s lives wasted, the one thing more alarming is the fact that they could have actually been prevented. One of the most pressing interventions is vaccination and in particular, against the number killer of under-5 children worldwide, Invasive Pneumococcal Diseases (IPD).

2. Promote Breastfeeding. I want to be part in saving the lives of 16,000 Filipino every year and 1.5 million babies dying every year throughout the world, because they were not breastfed.

3. Suicide Prevention is everybody’s business. Remember Mariannet Amper where media blamed a lot on poverty as the cause of her death? Let’s save more lives by educating ourselves not only on anti-poverty measures but on suicide prevention. Suicide should no longer be considered a hidden or taboo topic, and that through raising awareness and educating the public, we can SAVE lives.

The grief of the invisible class may seem invisible to most of you. Their plight may not be written by bloggers or even traditional media but there are people and organizations who try to alleviate their pain and poverty in their own little way. They can only do so much because in the end, our government also needs to address the root cause of their poverty.

You and I are doing whatever we can, and that is nothing to sneeze at.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1389 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.