Maria v. Ma., How I Had My Name Rectified

What's in a Name

I am writing this not to discredit anyone but to learn from the experience. Read on and learn!

Let me ask you this quesion first. When you see Ma.,what do you think it stands for? It stands for Maria, right?

But in my world, I have to prove that it is so. There begins my Change Name saga.

My birth certificate bears the name Merdekah. Then I don’t know why, but I have been using the name Ma. Merdekah in all my school, banks, HMO and insurance records. My old passport only had Merdekah, following the birth certificate. So, when I finally had to apply for a passport with my married name, my records don’t match. My marriage certificate bears the name Ma. Merdekah. Which is which?

I had no choice but to go through the process and have it rectified. My friends say it was going to be quick and easy. I wish they were right.

First, I had to get the advice of a lawyer who will do all the paperwork.

Second, I filed a petition at the Local Registrar. Since my birthplace is in Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor, and I am in Manila, it was impossible for me to be traveling to and fro. Good thing my father is already retired and can do the legwork for me. So, I had to ask the lawyer to make a Letter of Authority appointing my father to be my legal representative in all matters pertaining to this case.

Third, publish my petition in three local newspapers for three to four weeks straight. This does not come cheap, ha!

When the publication requirement was almost over, I got feedback that there was something wrong in the process. The publication of the petition was done before the petition was filed. How did that happen? Any sane person would know that that should not be the case. But I was told that they got confused and didn’t know how to do it because it was their first time to handle a case like mine. Whut? Change name is a popular issue. Besides no, SOPs/guidebook in this office?

I remember telling the lawyer and the local registrar that I wanted this resolved quickly as I needed the passport for official business. Perhaps, that triggered their confusion and they wanted to meet the deadline I set. But then I didn’t say anything about doing it the wrong way just to get my way!

So, we had to do it all over again. And because it was their fault, they had to shoulder the cost this time, which led to the delay as they had to rely on their own resources this time.

I was so frustrated but I was SO busy with work, that I didn’t have time to do anything to improve the process. I had to wait… for one year and a half!

Finally, the whole process was done. Now the problem is the Local Registrar himself. He got sick and eventually passed on. May his soul rest in peace.

The local government now needed to find a new Local Registrar. Perhaps because of the requirements and qualifications, they couldn’t find a replacement right away, so they had to put an Officer-in-Charge (OIC). Fine.

Now came another hitch. The OIC cannot sign my final petition because it should only be the Local Registrar. What? Isn’t that the role of the OIC to act as the official that he is representing? The innocent (and perhaps stupid me) believed them and waited again…for half a year!

Then a eureka moment came to me. I went to NSO main office in Quezon City and inquire from them once and for all. Before I would only call because I admit, I am scared to go to government offices because of the sad stories I hear and read.

Right from the horse’s mouth, the officer in NSO Main said that the OIC can sign. I called the E.V. Local Registrar and told them to let the OIC sign my documents and send it to NSO Main. Don’t worry, I will explain to the NSO Main Office here myself, I said. Ok, they said. But maám since, this is not the SOP here, we have to shoulder the courier fees, they added. Fine, I’ll handle it. I will send money for that, I countered.

My goodness! More than being frustrated, I pity them.

So after a long process and three years later, I finally got my name rectified. As they say, all’s well that ends well.

I wish we could improve our processes, and I hope everyone learned from my case so that others who find themselves in the same situation won’t wait that long to have their names changed.

Since, misspelled names is a popular issue in birth/marriage certificates, I suggest that NSO comes up with a SOP/guidebook and distributes it to all local registrars, if there isn’t any yet, and make sure the guidebook is being followed. And it shouldn’t take years to resolve an issue like this!

So, for new (and old) parents, make sure your children’s names are spelled correctly in their birth certificates and other pertinent documents.

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