According to In Re: Petition for Change of Name of Julian Lin Wang vs. Cebu City Civil Registrar (G.R. No. 159966, March 30, 2005), 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.
The Supreme Court in Republic v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 97906, 21 May 1992) provides that 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; and (5) it is imprescriptible.
Republic Act No. 9048 allows the city or municipal civil registrar or the consul general to correct a clerical or typographical error in an entry and/or change the first name or nickname in the civil register without need of a judicial order. R.A. No. 9048 amended Articles 376 and 412 of the New Civil Code, which prohibited the change of name or surname of a person, or any correction or change of entry in a civil register without a judicial order.
R.A. No. 9048 allows the correction of clerical or typographical errors in any entry in civil registry documents, except corrections involving the change in sex, age, nationality and status of a person. A clerical or typographical error refers to an obvious mistake committed in clerical work, either in writing, copying, transcribing, or typing an entry in the civil register that is harmless and innocuous, such as a misspelled name or misspelled place of birth and the like, and can be corrected or changed only by reference to other existing record or records.
R.A. No. 9048 also allows the change of a person's first name in his/her civil registry document under certain grounds specified under the law through administrative process.
To avail of the remedy under R.A. No. 9048, the petitioner must meet one of the three factual circumstances: (1) the petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (2) the new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the petitioner and he has been publicly known by that first name or nickname in the community; or (3) the change will avoid confusion.
Respicio Law & Co. can help persons wishing to change their names for the grounds stated above.