Saturday, October 17, 2009

Who can use which middle name? The Philippines and her laws regarding the use of middle name.

I spent about two hours trying to google the laws regarding the use of middle name for a Filipino child out of wedlock. I read almost all related results that emerged but nothing has directly answered my question. What middle name should an illegitimate child use?

The use of middle names does vary from one place to another and thus laws regarding the legalities of its use vary as well. In the Philippines, the middle name is used exclusively to refer to the mother's maiden surname. For example, in the name "Juan Miguel Batumbakal dela Cruz", the name "Batumbakal", his mother's maiden surname, is his middle name. For a legitimate child, it is of everyone’s knowledge that the child automatically bears the surnames of the father and the mother; the father’s surname becomes the child’s surname and the mother’s surname becomes the child’s middle name. However, it is not of everyone’s awareness the issues regarding which middle name an illegitimate child is entitled to use. And sadly, more and more brave women found themselves confused and misguided when the day comes that they have to register their child. [I use brave to refer to women who freight not with the responsibilities of raising a child alone otherwise called single moms].

I have heard two cases of filipino single moms working abroad who, after they received the birth certificate for their babies issued by the hospital where they had the delivery, and after they had the birth certificate translated from the local language e.g. Thai into English, and they were ready to apply for their child’s passport, only then they were informed by the Philippines embassy that they had to reprocess everything. It is because the birth certificates reflect both the middle name and the surname of the mother. The embassy says that the child can only use the mother’s surname but not her middle name otherwise that would mean that they are siblings. Thus the question: How are we supposed to know? Is there anywhere we could get informed that we ought to leave the middle name for our babies blank?

As I did my research, I found that most of the Philippines legal articles related to this matter that are available online discuss about which surname should illegitimate children use but are silent about which middle name should these children use [for examples, check here and here].

I found one article however that discussed the issues and concerns in the registration of illegitimate children. And much to my interest, I found this:


The item on the middle name may or may not have an entry. However, if there is an entry may be any of the following:
1. The mother’s maiden surname, if the child is legitimate;
2. The mother’s middle name, if the child is illegitimate, was born before August 3, 1988 and was acknowledged only by the mother;
3. The mother’s middle name, if the child is illegitimate and was born on or after August 3, 1988;4. The father’s middle name, if the child is illegitimate and was acknowledged only by the father;
5. The mother’s middle name, if the child is illegitimate and neither parent acknowledged the child.
This will make a good debate. Are single parents forced by the Philippines law to leave the middle name empty or are they given a choice?

More women today realize that it is better to raise a child alone rather than being trap in a relationship that does not reciprocate everything that she needs and gives. Therefore I believe that the government should start to orient women about legal issues that would guide them in preparing for their child’s future starting from the birth certificate. More information and resources should be made available to them.

I am still not resolved about this matter. If you have any information that would be of help to this campaign, I would love to hear.


  1. Wow sounds so very complicated.
    In Canada...there is no law that I have ever heard of stating anything about a middle name being illegal.

    Many people baptize their babies and add names . There are no limits to how many names one child can have at all as long as when you register the have the names on the form.

    I am always intrigue with differences in laws and traditions>

  2. you are right D! In some countries the legalities about names are not really complicated. For instance, i was surprised when I found out that Thai people can just change their names whenever they want, e.g if they feel that their name is a bad luck. But in the Philippines, even just having one single letter in the name not matching the birth certificate and the school records will definitely ban the person from any professional examinations or any other important documentation until he is able to correct everything which is completely a complicated process.

  3. how about people who has only single name e.g Mike , Joe, Susan. I agree with Dorothy it sounds very complicated

  4. The Civil Code does not provide for the use of middle names, only of surnames.
    "As correctly submitted by both parties, there is no law regulating the use of a middle name. Even Article 17611 of the Family Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 9255, otherwise known as "An Act Allowing Illegitimate

  5. Giving the mother's middle name to an illegitimate child will make it appear that the mother and child are siblings and may create problems for the child sometime in the future. Under Philippine laws, the correct thing to do is to leave the middle name blank and only have a first and last name (using the mother's surname) of the illegitimate child. I do believe this is unfair as this may have psychological effects on the child later when he/she enters school. I hope Angelo Palmones' bill gets the attention it deserves to allow illegitimate children to have a middle name.


Thank you for your time. I'll get back to you soon. :)