Filipinos like using nicknames. We give our children unique sounding names such as ‘Jun-Jun’, ‘Ken-Ken’, and ‘Mac-Mac’. Girls are named ‘Ging-Ging’, ‘Che-Che’, and sometimes, ‘Pot-Pot’. Every family has a Tito Boy and a Tita Baby, a Kuya Boyet and an Ate Mayet, a Tito Tito or a Tita Tita. Very seldom are we called by our real names. When our parents call us by our complete names, we know we are in serious trouble.
While nicknames are fun and easy to remember, it has also caused problems for some. Are there limitations to one’s use of his aliases? When is it unlawful to use your nickname in public? Did you know that there a lot of laws that touch on the use of nicknames and aliases?
Here is a list of Philippine laws that deal with an individual’s use of nicknames and aliases. It pays to be properly informed because ignorance of the law excuses no one. Don’t let your nickname get you in serious trouble.
What is a nickname or alias?
These are names we use publicly and habitually apart from our real names registered at birth or during baptism. Any other name or names used by a person to distinguish himself other than his given name is called an alias (or aliases if the person has several).
Are nicknames or aliases allowed by law?
While Filipinos are not prohibited from using nicknames, there is a law that regulates the use of names other than one’s given name. Commonwealth Act No. 142 (an Act to Regulate the Use of Aliases) was primarily intended to discourage the common practice among Chinese nationals who use different names and aliases in their business transactions.
Is the use of an alias in a business transaction or a public document automatically considered unlawful?
No. Under the said Commonwealth Act, the use of a nickname or alias in a single instance without any indication that the user intends to be known by this name in addition to his real name does not fall within the prohibition.
The use of a nickname becomes illegal when it is meant to conceal or mislead, as detailed in the following laws involving false names and identities:
- The Anti-money Laundering Act of 2002 (Republic Act No. 9160, as amended), which requires banks and other covered institutions to establish and record the true identity of their clients based on official documents.
- The Revised Penal Code which penalizes the public use of a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime or evading the execution of a judgment.
- The Civil Code of the Philippines which prohibits the use of different names and surnames, except for pen and stage names (usually observed among celebrities, authors, and the like).
- The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 which penalizes any individual who shall evade the Immigration Laws by appearing under an assumed or fictitious name.
- The Tax Reform Act of 1997 which made it unlawful for any person to enter any false or fictitious name in a taxpayer’s books of accounts or records.
- Presidential Decree No. 1829 which penalizes any person who shall obstruct, impede, frustrate, or delay the apprehension of suspects by publicly using a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime.
- Commonwealth Act 142 which penalizes any person who shall use any name different from the one with which he was registered at birth in the office of the local civil registry.
Nicknames and aliases is also one of the most common reasons why most Filipinos encounter problems with their birth certificates. By habitually using nicknames on public documents, they end up being listed under these aliases, contradicting the names written on their birth certificates. This becomes a problem when the person applies for a passport, a license, or even when getting married.
Think twice before deciding to write your nickname on a public document. Be careful you do not bring yourself unnecessary trouble by using a name you have been called since you were a kid. Always choose to write your full name as written on your birth certificate.