Tired of having studied all day and all night, my grandson Franco slumped on the other easy chair in my bedroom. He was carrying his book on civil law.
But he couldn’t stand being too long away from the subject: He began to tell me about some funny entries he had encountered in the civil code that day. Some of them hit your funny bone indeed. I copied them. Then with Franco’s help, I tried to find exceptions or questions I could ask about those laws.
I have no idea which have already been repealed and Franco is too sleepy to ask.
Art. 375. In case of identity of names and surnames between ascendants and descendants, the word “Junior” can be used only by a son. Grandsons and other direct male descendants shall either: (1) Add a middle name or the mother’s surname; or (2) Add the Roman numerals II, III, and so on.
What about Bea Zobel Jr.? Stella Suarez Jr., movie star daughter of a former bold star and a sister of Richard Gomez?
What about Nancy Sinatra Jr., daughter of Frank Sinatra and his wife Nancy?
Wouldn’t Anne Roosevelt Jr., daughter of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fall in that category? Or Carolina Herrera Jr., daughter of the popular Venezuelan designer?
Art. 1271. The delivery of a private document evidencing a credit, made voluntarily by the creditor to the debtor, implies the renunciation of the action which the former had against the latter. If in order to nullify this waiver it should be claimed to be inofficious, the debtor and his heirs may uphold it by proving that the delivery of the document was made in virtue of payment of the debt.
My grandfather Remigio Luna had once allowed part of his residential property in Batangas to be planted to short-duration crops by a distant relative, who also began to live there.
After the distant relative died, one of the sons who had studied law (a little knowledge is a dangerous thing) began a suit claiming the land belonged to them.
Fortunately, my grandfather had proof that the property was still his own. He had written inside the door of an aparador: “Sa ika-4 ng Junio, 1912, ang kapiraso kong lupa ay ipinahiram ko kay Justo Claudio upang mayroon siyang pagtamnan ng kanyang ikabubuhay. Iyan ay ibabalik niya sa akin pagkaraan ng kanyang pangangailangan.” My grandfather brought the door to the court and won the case.
Art. 307. The funeral shall be in accordance with the expressed wishes of the deceased. In the absence of such expression, his religious beliefs or affiliation shall determine the funeral rites. In case of doubt, the form of the funeral shall be decided upon by the person obliged to make arrangements for the same, after consulting the other members of the family.
I had a granduncle whom I heard was carried to his burial site, lying on a four-poster bed complete with valance, by several farm hands. That was how he had wished to get buried.
But what about if my children, who love their dogs, insist on getting buried with their pets like the Filipinos of old? (Or with their pets, long since dead, who have been stuffed with formalin? Hey, guys, please don’t do it!)
Respect for the dead
Art. 309. Any person who shows disrespect to the dead, or wrongfully interferes with a funeral, shall be liable to the family of the deceased for damages, material and moral.
In the 1980s, while my father was lying in state, a nun whom we did not know managed to sneak in, lift the glass of the coffin, and put a cheap pink plastic rosary between the deceased’s hands.
Luckily, before my non-church-going father could turn in his coffin, I discovered the discourteous intrusion and ordered the rosary removed. We never found out who the well-intentioned nun was, who couldn’t help forcing her idea of salvation on my father.
Art. 379. The employment of pen names or stage names is permitted, provided it is done in good faith and there is no injury to third persons. Pen names and stage names cannot be usurped.
What about the bakla comedian who called himself Ate Glow and spoofed former President Gloria by appearing in shows with a big mole and buck teeth? What about another character who called himself Poohkyaw and made fun of the bad English of Pacquiao?
Art. 371. In case of annulment of marriage, and the wife is the guilty party, she shall resume her maiden name and surname. If she is the innocent spouse, she may resume her maiden name and surname. However, she may choose to continue employing her former husband’s surname, unless: (1) The court decrees otherwise; or (2) She or the former husband is married again to another person.
This explains people who have legitimate children bearing their mother’s family name. I thought separated couples just did what they wanted if they were wealthy and angry.
Art. 1250. In case an extraordinary inflation or deflation of the currency stipulated should supervene, the value of the currency at the time of the establishment of the obligation shall be the basis of payment, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
For example, Franco said, people who incurred debts in war notes and promised to pay in two years, but the war ended in one, would have to pay in Philippine pesos.
“But how do you compute the amount to pay?” I asked. In the beginning of the Occupation you could still exchange 20 war notes for one genuine peso. But barter soon became the preferred method of transaction, like a pair of gold earrings for a sack of good rice, a mattress for a jacket, six drinking glasses for a jackfruit, and so on.
By the end of the Occupation, however, perishable foodstuffs were being paid for by the bayong or even sackful of Mickey Mouse money and nobody even bothered to count them (too much trouble). People were eager to get rid of their valueless cash because rumors were escalating that the Americans were coming very soon.
So, how do you compute value at the date it was borrowed and not on the date it has to be paid? Franco explained that there was the so-called Ballantine Scale that had been researched by a bank adviser to the US president. He had checked the cost of living index in every country that had gone through World War II, as well as the real-estate values during different periods of the country’s Occupation. That’s how “just compensation,” was computed.
Art. 717. Pigeons and fish which from their respective breeding places pass to another pertaining to a different owner shall belong to the latter, provided they have not been enticed by some artifice or fraud. (613a)
What about if they were lured by the neighbor with luscious and attractive girl pigeons?
This reminds me of the eternal dispute that, if the branch of your tree that bears very sweet fruit obtrudes into your neighbor’s property, whom does the fruit of that branch belong to?
Such disputes hardly exist today. Sweet fruit is available mostly in market stalls only because the majority of yards with trees have become condominiums.
Art. 430. Every owner may enclose or fence his land or tenements by means of walls, ditches, live or dead hedges, or any other means without detriment to servitudes constituted thereon. (388)
What is a dead hedge? According to my law student, it is not a hedge that has died, a picket fence, a bamboo or rattan fence. It is still a hedge, a low thick row, now of dead plants, tied together. Intriguing! I wonder what it looks like. Lawyers can think of the weirdest visuals!