I’ve always gotten weird looks when people find out that I am still using my “maiden name” despite being married for a couple of years now. Two questions usually follow after I explain that yes, my married name is the same as my maiden name: (1) is that allowed? and (2) how does my husband feel about that?
It’s unfortunate that few people seem to know that under Philippine law, a married woman may choose to retain her maiden name. While a woman can change her last name when she gets married, she doesn’t have to.
Article 370 of the Civil Code 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.”
By using the word “may,” the Civil Code is giving the married woman the option to change her name. It does not, however, compel the same. As pointed out by the Supreme Court in Bar Matter No. 1625, “[m]arriage does not change a woman’s name, it merely changes her civil status.”
As for the second question, my husband respects the fact that it is my right to choose my last name. And I’ll have it no other way. Someone once told me that it would be emasculating for a man to have a wife who chooses to keep her surname. Well my reply is this: if that particular man sees an exercise of a right as a threat to his masculinity, then perhaps he is not ready to enter into a relationship with an equal partner.