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When Gemma and PJ got married in 2008, they had to wait until 2009 before they were able to spend their honeymoon in the U.S. Gemma’s passport had to be renewed. She decided to wait until she has all her marriage documents with her because she wanted for her married name to appear on her new passport.

Her mom advised her that she actually has the option to use her maiden name in her Passport, but being the starry-eyed, brand new wife that she was then, she opted to use Geraldine Marie M. Gomez – Gomez being PJ’s last name. Before they celebrated their first wedding anniversary, they flew off to Florida for their much-awaited honeymoon; Gemma brandished her newly updated passport with her newly updated name on it. And since then, she and PJ would make it a point to explore a new country at least once every year.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon fever waned a bit too early for Gemma and PJ and in less than nine years of being married, they both decided to go their separate ways. It did not take long for PJ to find a new relationship while Gemma enjoyed the “single and ready to mingle” lifestyle she sorely missed.

The highlight of her new-found freedom would have been a week-long sojourn with her friends in Bali except that her passport was once again due for renewal. It was at this point when she realized that she wanted to begin dropping her husband’s last name and revert to her maiden name. She remembered her Mom’s advise that women have the option to use their maiden name in their passports and this was exactly what she tried to do when she applied for a passport renewal.

She was terribly surprised when the Department of Foreign Affairs told her that changing her name in her passport is not as easy as she thought it to be.

“But I thought I had the RIGHT to use whatever name I wanted on my passport, whether my maiden or married name?” Even while recovering from shock and disappointment, Gemma managed to listen intently to the DFA’s explanation:

Gemma was clearly referring to Article 370 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines which states that:

A married woman may use:

  1. Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname, or
  2. Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname or
  3. Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.”

Unfortunately for Gemma, her decision to use her married name when she had her passport renewed disqualifies her from using Article 370 as basis to change her name on her passport. If she so wishes to use her maiden name, she will have to present a court decree to prove that her marriage to PJ has been annulled or they have been granted legal separation. (Other cases would be that the husband passed away, in which case she would have to present a valid PSA Death Certificate, or the husband obtained a foreign divorce against her.) Article 370 would have only worked in Gemma’s favor had she decided to retain her maiden name in her passport in spite of being married to PJ.

Gemma got her passport and used it to travel the world. It was her way of recovering from her failed marriage while contemplating on her next move. Her wish was granted when, on her 33rd birthday, PJ asked to see her to talk about legalizing their separation. They both decided to go for annulment and mutually agreed to cooperate to make the process easier for both of them. In less than three years, their annulment was granted and Gemma finally got to change her name in all of her identification cards and documents – she is now, once again, Geraldine Marie T. Mendoza.