Awa, a Filipino value deeply embedded in our culture, represents compassion, empathy, and a deep sense of shared suffering.

It is the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes, to feel their pain, and to be moved to action to alleviate their suffering. Awa is more than just sympathy; it is an active desire to help and support those in need.


What is Awa?

In Filipino culture, ‘Awa’ refers to the feeling of compassion or mercy towards others. It is a deep sense of empathy and a genuine desire to help alleviate another person’s suffering.

Awa involves not only feeling sympathy for someone but also taking action to help them in any way possible.

Importance of Awa

Awa is crucial in fostering strong community bonds in Filipino society. It is a value that promotes social cohesion, as it encourages individuals to look out for one another and support each other in times of need.

This sense of communal support is essential in a country that often faces natural disasters and other challenges.

Awa also plays a significant role in promoting social justice. It drives individuals to take action against injustices and to support those who are marginalized or disadvantaged. It fosters a sense of responsibility towards others and a desire to make a positive impact on the world.

On a personal level, awa helps in nurturing relationships with friends and family. It encourages understanding, tolerance, and a desire to support loved ones in their times of need. This is especially important in a culture where family and close relationships are highly valued.

Practice of Awa in Daily Life

Practicing Awa involves performing acts of kindness, both big and small, towards others. It could be as simple as offering a seat to an elderly person on public transportation or as significant as organizing a fundraising event for a community in need.

Volunteering is another way to practice Awa. It involves giving one’s time and effort to help others without expecting anything in return.

Whether it is volunteering at a local charity, helping out in a community event, or providing support to those in need, volunteering is a concrete way to practice Awa.

Awa is not only about providing physical support but also emotional support. It involves being there for others, listening to their concerns, and offering a shoulder to lean on. It is about being empathetic and understanding towards others’ feelings and experiences.

Awa in Action

Allow me to share these two stories to show the value of awa.


Anna, a nurse working in a city hospital, witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of a recent typhoon. Many victims were brought to the hospital, injured and traumatized.

Despite being exhausted from working long hours, Anna felt a deep sense of awa for the victims and volunteered to work extra shifts to help care for them.

Her compassion and dedication did not go unnoticed, and she was able to provide comfort and support to many victims during their time of need.


Mark, a college student, was walking home one day when he saw a homeless man shivering in the cold. He felt a deep sense of awa for the man and decided to take action. He went to a nearby store and bought a warm blanket and some food for the man.

When he handed them over, the man’s eyes filled with tears of gratitude. Mark realized that even small acts of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life.


Awa is a core Filipino value that encompasses compassion, empathy, and a desire to help others. It is about putting oneself in another’s shoes, feeling their pain, and being moved to action to alleviate their suffering. By practicing Awa in our daily lives, we can foster stronger community bonds, promote social justice, and nurture our personal relationships.

Enriquez, V. G. (1994). From Colonial to Liberation Psychology. De La Salle University Press.
Pe-Pua, R., & Protacio-Marcelino, E. (2000). Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Filipino psychology): A legacy of Virgilio G. Enriquez. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 3(1), 49-71.

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