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ARTURIO TRINIDAD, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, respondent.

G.R. No. 118904 April 20, 1998

Facts:

Patricio Trinidad and Anastacia Briones were the parents of three (3) children, namely, Inocentes,
Lourdes and Felix. When Patricio died in 1940, survived by the above named children, he left four (4)
parcels of land, all situated at Barrio Tigayon, Kalibo Aklan.

Arturio Trinidad, born on July 21, 1943, claimed to be the legitimate son of the late InocentesTrinidad.
Sometime after the marriage, he demanded from the defendants to partition the land into three equal
shares and to give him the (1/3) individual share of his late father, but the defendants refused.

Arturio Trinidad filed, an action for partition of four parcels of land. Defendants denied that plaintiff was
the son of the late Inocentes Trinidad. Defendants contended that Inocentes was single when he died in
1941, before plaintiffs birth. Defendants also denied that plaintiff had lived with them, and claimed that
the parcels of land described in the complaint had been in their possession since the death of their father
in 1940 and that they had not given plaintiff a share in the produce of the land.

Arturio presented witnesses to prove his position. Jovita Gerardo testified that Inocentes Trinidad
and Felicidad Molato are the parents of Arturio; that Felix and Lourdes as the uncle and aunt of Arturio;
and also identified pictures where the respondents were with Arturio and his family.(At this stage of the
trial, Felix Trinidad [died] without issue and he was survived by his only sister, Lourdes Trinidad.)
Another witness, ISABEL MEREN, 72 years old and a widow testified that she knows InocentesTrinidad
as the father of Arturio Trinidad; that she knew Inocentes Trinidad and Felicidad Molato as the parents of
Arturio and that she was present when they were married in New Washington, Aklan, by a protestant
pastor by the name of Lauriano Lajaylajay. She further testified that upon the death of Inocentes, Lourdes
took Arturio and cared for him. ARTURIO TRINIDAD, himself, was presented as witness. As proof that
he is the son of Inocentes Trinidad and Felicidad Molato, he showed a certificate of baptism, and a
certificate of loss issued by the LCR that his birth certificate was burned during World War 2. He also
testified that he lived with Felix and Lourdes and provided for his needs.

On the other hand, defendants presented Pedro Briones who testified that Inocentes was not married when
he died in 1940s. Lourdes Trinidad also testified that she was not aware that his brother married anybody
and denied that Arturio lived with them. Beatriz Sayon also testified that Inocentes died in 1941, and
that Felicidad Molato had never been married to Inocentes. The trial court rendered a twenty-page
decision in favor of Arturio. The CA reversed the decision.

Issue:

Whether or not the petitioner presented sufficient evidence of his parents marriage and his filation.

Ruling:

The partition of the late Patricios real properties requires preponderant proof that petitioner is a co-owner
or co-heir of the decedents estate. His right as a co-owner would, in turn, depend on whether he was born
during the existence of a valid and subsisting marriage between his mother (Felicidad) and his putative
father (Inocentes).

When the question of whether a marriage has been contracted arises in litigation, said marriage may be
proven by relevant evidence. To prove the fact of marriage, the following would constitute competent
evidence: the testimony of a witness to the matrimony, the couples public and open cohabitation as
husband and wife after the alleged wedlock, the birth and the baptismalcertificates of children born during
such union, and the mention of such nuptial in subsequent documents.
In the case at bar, petitioner secured a certification from the Office of the Civil Registrar of Aklan that all
records of births, deaths and marriages were lost, burned or destroyed during the Japanese occupation of
said municipality. Although the marriage contract is considered the primary evidence of the marital union,
petitioners failure to present it is not proof that no marriage took place, as other forms of relevant
evidence may take its place. In place of a marriage contract, two witnesses were presented by petitioner:
Isabel Meren and Jovita Gerardo. It further gives rise to the disputable presumption that a man and a
woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.
Petitioner also presented his baptismal certificate in which Inocentes and Felicidad were named as the
childs father and mother, and family pictures.

The totality of petitioners positive evidence clearly preponderates over private respondents self-serving
negations.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision and Resolution are REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. The trial courts decision is REINSTATED.

DOCTRINE:

This Court disagrees. Pugeda vs. Trias[18] ruled that when the question of whether a marriage has
been contracted arises in litigation, said marriage may be proven by relevant evidence. To prove the fact
of marriage, the following would constitute competent evidence: the testimony of a witness to the
matrimony, the couples public and open cohabitation as husband and wife after the alleged
wedlock, the birth and the baptismal certificates of children born during such union, and the
mention of such nuptial in subsequent documents.[19]
On the other hand, filiation may be proven by the following:
ART. 265. The filiation of legitimate children is proved by the record of birth appearing in the
Civil Register, or by an authentic document or a final judgment.
ART. 266. In the absence of the titles indicated in the preceding article, the filiation shall be
proved by the continuous possession of status of a legitimate child.
ART. 267. In the absence of a record of birth, authentic document, final judgment or possession
of status, legitimate filiation may be proved by any other means allowed by the Rules of Court
and special laws.[27]
Petitioner submitted in evidence a certification[28] that records relative to his birth were either
destroyed during the last world war or burned when the old town hall was razed to the ground on June 17,
1956. To prove his filiation, he presented in evidence two family pictures, his baptismal certificate and
Gerardos testimony.
Although a baptismal certificate is indeed not a conclusive proof of filiation, it is one of the other
means allowed under the Rules of Court and special laws to show pedigree, as this Court ruled
in Mendoza vs. Court of Appeals:[31]
What both the trial court and the respondent court did not take into account is that an illegitimate
child is allowed to establish his claimed filiation by any other means allowed by the Rules of
Court and special laws, according to the Civil Code, or by evidence of proof in his favor that the
defendant is her father, according to the Family Code. Such evidence may consist of his
baptismal certificate, a judicial admission, a family Bible in which his name has been entered,
common reputation respecting his pedigree, admission by silence, the testimony of witnesses,
and other kinds of proof admissible under Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. [Justice Alicia
Sempio-Diy, Handbook on the Family Code of the Phil. 1988 ed., p. 246]