malasakit sa kapwa

Malasakit: The Filipino Culture of Caring for Others

Malasakit makes good things happen. Communities thrive even in a crisis. Companies grow and succeed. Problems get solved and opportunities are found.

We Filipinos believe that no one lives nor dies for himself. We have malasakit because we believe we are responsible for one another. Malasakit makes us good leaders, good citizens, and great people.

Filipinos with malasakit believe they are responsible for their actions and they own the impact of their action (and inaction) on others. They hold themselves accountable.

Promote a culture of malasakit if you want to encourage excellent customer care, innovation, teamwork, and passion. Leaders who show malasakit care for their people and their business.

What is malasakit?

Malasakit is a Filipino value of caring and acting on the needs of others. The word sakit means pain or disease. When a person values malasakit, that person takes ownership of that problem and finds ways to solve it.

The meaning of malasakit goes beyond charity work and helping those in need. Your boss, for example, expects you to show malasakit for your organization. You do that by ensuring that your customers are taken care of, by being mindful that the company does not incur unnecessary expenses, and by taking care of office properties as your own.

There is a sense of accountability and ownership.

Someone who has malasakit does not just wait and see for things to happen. They act for they hold themselves responsible.

We know that our actions or inactions will impact others. When we refused to help someone in need, we refused to help ourselves too.

It is not an action that we require from one another because they are expected of us. It is more than responsibility. It is more than accountability.

It is given to someone you love. It is given even to a stranger. It is given even to those who cannot return a favor. It is given even to those who do not ask for help.

You can embed malasakit in your corporate culture. You can bring these leadership training programs to your company. We can talk about creating a culture of malasakit in your organization.

Malasakit in English

We can translate malasakit in English as a concern for others, or compassion, or empathy. All these words mean that you care for others.

You care for others, you know that you can help, and you act on it. That’s what malasakit is all about.

Malasakit sa kapwa is a phrase often translated as concern for others. One can be concerned about what’s happening to those who have nothing to eat today. But it is beyond being concerned.

I often say that employees who have no malasakit are “malas” and “sakit” of their company. Malas means bad luck. Sakit means disease or pain. 

People who value malasakit genuinely care for you, even if they have no obligation to serve you. 

It is the reason why bayanihan works in the Philippines. People care for people. They join bayanihan not because they want to become mga bayani (heroes), but because Filipinos recognize that you need help — and they come to help you without expecting anything in return. 

In this sense, this core value is beyond customer service. In customer service, you serve a customer who expects you to do something for them in exchange for money. 

Empathetic in Tagalog

We need leaders today who are empathetic. In Tagalog, empathetic is translated as “may malasakit”. When we describe a manager as “may malasakit”, it signifies that the manager actively seeks to understand the perspectives of their subordinates and is willing to put themselves in their shoes.

Where to find malasakit?

You can find it from people who show that they care.

They appear every time tragedies happen. You must have seen the demonstration of malasakit during typhoon Ondoy. There were many who endured sleepless nights just because they wanted to help.

I see the manifestations of it every day in small, oftentimes invisible ways. But those who have it cannot unsee them when they happen.

An old woman could not cross the street and a young girl helped her. Not really a big thing for the young girl, but it was a great help to the old woman.

Malasakit in the Workplace

We can create a culture of caring in the workplace.

An employee with malasakit takes full ownership of the success and failure of an organization, a community, and a nation. They work because they know that doing so will make an impact on others.

By creating a culture where people care for each other, we help the employees strengthen their commitment to each other and to the community they are serving.

Joselito Mallari has an interesting article that says that high-performance employees are those who show malasakit at work.

Let your next team building be about how members can show compassion for each other. Let us build each other because we are responsible for one another.

It is great to see people who care for each other during the good times too.

15 Behaviors Demonstrate Malasakit

  1. They ask and anticipate employees’ needs.
  2. They ensure the well-being of employees.
  3. They listen to understand customers’ needs.  
  4. They find ways to reduce waste and save money. 
  5. They look for ways to increase revenue.
  6. They do things right the first time.
  7. They volunteer and walk the extra mile.
  8. They carry the burden of other employees.
  9. They sacrifice for the sake of the company.
  10. They protect the environment.
  11. They tell the truth.
  12. They make you feel that you belong.
  13. They work even when no one is looking.
  14. They won’t leave you behind.
  15. They try to ease your pain.

8 Signs that Employees Lack Malasakit

  1. They waste resources.
  2. They are indifferent.
  3. They do not show respect to fellow employees.
  4. They steal.
  5. They consistently report to work late.
  6. They gossip about your misfortunes.
  7. They are a pain in your behind.
  8. They lie to get ahead.

If you choose it as a core value, it will help if you write your definition in two to three sentences. Then, persuade employees to write those actions are aligned with this core value.

Malasakit Works

People-centered organizations understand the value of empathy [mfn] Read Empathy on the Edge.[/mfn] as a starting point for any innovation.

Innovators begin with empathy to create new products, services, and experiences that customers love. This is because they place themselves in the shoes of the customers.

Malasakit is empathy and more.

Compassion is another word. When Filipinos use compassion, they mean pity or concern for the sufferings of others. Metaphorically, you feel their pain.

It is compassion and more.

The difference is clear to me. That’s because Filipinos with malasakit are known for their actions. Your organization will benefit most when you promote malasakit.

It works.

Leadership experts talk advocate for people-centered organizations. I think that the fastest way to do that is to promote a culture of malasakit.

Malasakit works at work. All work is personal. Let your people recognize their human-to-human connection.

You won’t be able to ignore the change. People smile. Leaders care for people. Employees are engaged. And the business is growing.


We can teach values to employees. Malasakit is one of the important values you can encourage employees to practice. The best way is to bring it out from them because it is innate for humans to have a sense of malasakit.

You can do this by encouraging employees to tell stories of malasakit in the workplace. To keep everyone engaged, you can make it a team project too.

Another effective way is values alignment if it is one of your core values.

Companies spend millions on customer service training. Employees learned to be polite, greet and smile at clients, and do whatever will delight customers. This kind of customer service is transactional.

Malasakit is in intrinsic value. Employees who value malasakit, even if untrained, will ensure that customers are cared for. They’ll do it for the company and themselves too.

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