Grounds for changing a name or surname

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My daughter has an illegitimate child with a man working in one of the law enforcement agencies of the government. The surname that was registered on the Certificate of Live Birth of my granddaughter was the surname of her father. The latter refused to support her and even claimed that she is not really his daughter. The worst that he did was when he married another girl, and he claimed the real father of my granddaughter was another man. Such allegation really tainted the reputation of my daughter and we intend to file a case in order to change the surname of my granddaughter so that the latter will bear our surname. Please guide us.

Dear Ineth,
It is stated in “In Re: Petition For Change of Name and/or Correction/Cancellation of Entry in Civil Registry of Julian Lin Carulasan Wang vs Cebu City Civil Registrar” that:

The names of individuals usually have two parts: the given name or proper name, and the surname or family name. The given or proper name is that which is given to the individual at birth or baptism, to distinguish him from other individuals. The name or family name is that which identifies the family to which he belongs and is continued from parent to child. The given name may be freely selected by the parents for the child; but the surname to which the child is entitled is fixed by law. A name is said to have the following characteristics: (1) It is absolute, intended to protect the individual from being confused with others. (2) It is obligatory in certain respects, for nobody can be without a name. (3) It is fixed, unchangeable, or immutable, at least at the start, and may be changed only for good cause and by judicial proceedings. (4) It is outside the commerce of man, and, therefore, inalienable and intransmissible by act inter vivos or mortis causa. (5) It is imprescriptible (G.R. No. 159966. March 30, 2005).

In your case, you cannot just change the surname of your granddaughter because of the actuations of her father. The Supreme Court has enumerated the grounds for change of name in the case of Republic of the Philippines vs Magpayo (G.R. No. 189476, February 2, 2011), which are the following:

a) When the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or extremely difficult to write or pronounce;

(b) When the change results as a legal consequence such as legitimation;

(c) When the change will avoid confusion;

(d) When one has continuously used and been known since childhood by a Filipino name, and was unaware of alien parentage;

(e) A sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudicing anybody; and

(f) When the surname causes embarrassment and there is no showing that the desired change of name was for a fraudulent purpose or that the change of name would prejudice public interest.

Your basis in changing the surname of your granddaughter does not fall under any of the legal grounds enumerated in the abovementioned case, hence, the case you intended to file will not prosper.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to


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1 Comment

  1. I wonder if maybe you could have mentioned a dna test for the child & the parents to show & prove you are telling the truth in the parentage. Or is that s illy thought in the philippines