More and more Filipino women are opting not to take the surnames of their husbands after tying the knot. Find out why, below.
Based on Filipino tradition, it’s natural to assume that taking your husband’s name after getting married isn’t optional. But the law says otherwise. Yes, you can choose to keep your maiden name, even if you have tied the knot. According to Article 370 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, a married woman may use:
- Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname, or
- Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname, or
- Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.”
“Filipinos have this notion that once a woman marries, she should change her surname to that of her husband’s. We lose sight of the fact that when a woman marries, it’s only her civil status that changes, not her name,” Atty. Krizia Katrian Leanne D. Talon explains to GMA News. “In fact, the law does not oblige a woman to change her name because of marriage. The Civil Code gives the woman options on the use of her name and her husband’s after she marries. It uses permissive language; it says ‘may’. So, she may adopt her husband’s name, or just add it to her name, or she may not at all.”
“Filipinos have this notion that once a woman marries, she should change her surname to that of her husband’s. We lose sight of the fact that when a woman marries, it’s only her civil status that changes, not her name…”
32-year-old Tattooist, natural perfumer, and illustrator Wiji Lacsamana, who’s been married for 2 years, shared with Cosmo.ph that she decided to keep her name because she didn’t want to.
“I never thought I’d get married, and it has also never occurred to me to adopt any man’s last name as my own. Why should anyone give up their name if they don’t want to? It doesn’t make the love mean any less; it just asserts a preference that should be respected. Luckily, I married a very open-minded, understanding, and supportive man—I wouldn’t have married anyone less than him anyway!” she gushed. “When other women find out that I kept my last name, especially the married ones, a lot are surprised that it’s even an option. Clearly, the fact that a wife can keep her maiden name if she wants to is not well-known in the Philippines.”
For 34-year-old Jean Madrid, keeping her name was a mutual decision she made with her husband of three years. “Throughout my whole life, I’ve struggled with man-woman roles and gender-based societal expectations and when I shared this with my husband, we decided on the principle that no one in our marriage would do something ‘just because of gender’ (besides child-bearing and breastfeeding, of course!)” she shared with Cosmo. “Changing my last name to his fell subject to this principle. Other than tradition, we couldn’t find any reason that didn’t violate one of our core relationship principles, so to this day I still haven’t changed my name.”
For those planning to keep their own name after marriage, the important thing is to be consistent when filling out forms when you update your records with the BIR, SSS, Philhealth, and Pag-IBIG. Another reason could be simply wanting to avoid the hassle of going through forms.
Remember to take into account that there might be confusion when you change your civil status, but retain your maiden name. as the notion that women are obliged to take their husband’s name is still deeply rooted in Filipino culture.
Did you take your husband’s name or kept your own? Share your story in the comments below!
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