How do you solve a problem like ‘Ma. Carolina?’

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My cousin’s name is Maria Carolina. That is what is indicated in her birth and baptismal certificates. But in the birth certificate of her twin sons, her husband mistakenly placed “Ma. Carolina” in the portion intended for the mother’s name, instead of “Maria Carolina”. They thought all along that there would not be any problem because she used it in some occasions, plus it is commonly known in most countries, even ours, that “Ma.”
actually means “Maria.” Unfortunately, the school where her sons are enrolled noticed the seeming discrepancy and asked her to put it in order so that the records of her sons will not have any problems especially that they are about to graduate from grade school this school year. What should my cousin do?

Dear Janine,
You are correct in saying that the term “Ma.” is commonly used as the shorter version of the name “Maria.” Yet, it can still be expected that confusion or uncertainty will result if one who is named as “Maria” will use “Ma.” in her dealings, as in the situation of your cousin.

Appropriately, your cousin, or any other person having direct and personal interest in the correction of the clerical or typographical error, should seek to correct the birth certificates of her children, particularly information that concerns her first name. This may be done by filing a verified petition before the Local Civil Registry where such birth certificates were registered, or before the consul general if they are residing or domiciled in a foreign country (Sections 1 and 3, Republic Act 9048).

Please note that the petition shall be in the form of an affidavit. It must state the particular erroneous entry that is
being sought to be corrected and must also be subscribed and sworn to before a person authorized by the law to administer oaths. Further, it should be supported by a certified true machine copy of the birth certificate or of the page of the registry book containing the entry sought to be corrected, at least two public or private documents showing the correct entry upon which the correction will be based, and such other documents which the petitioner or the civil registrar/consul general may deem relevant and necessary for the approval of the petition (Section 5, Ibid.).

Should the civil registrar/consul general find the petition, together with its supporting documents, sufficient in form and substance, it will be posted for ten (10) consecutive days in a conspicuous place provided for that purpose. The civil registrar/consul general must render a decision not later than five (5) working days after the completion of the said ten (10)-day period (Section 6, Id.).Within five (5) working days from the date of the decision, a copy thereof together with the records of the proceedings must be transmitted to the Office of the Civil Registrar General. The Civil Registrar General is given ten (10) working days to impugn the same. The decision shall become final and executory if he fails to exercise his power to impugn (Section 7, Id.).

If the petition is ultimately granted, the correction made as to the spelling of your cousin’s first name will be annotated in the birth certificates of her sons and she may submit the same to the latter’s school.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

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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