Filipino Citizenship | Filipinos - More Than Just Inhabitants
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Filipino Citizenship: The most common way to become a Filipino citizen is through descent from a parent who is a Republic of the Philippines citizen or national. The reason for this is that Philippine Nationality law is based on the concepts of jus sanguinis or by blood. Contrast this with the legal concept of jus soli, which grants citizenship to those born on a country’s territory even if their parents are from another country.

Hoy, pinoy ako! Buo aking loob, may agimat ang dugo ko!” This line is quite familiar, right? It is the chorus part of one of Bamboo’s famous songs, Noypi. Filipino (Pilipino)—the formal and most common term to call people who are citizens or natives of the Philippines. 

What is Filipino Citizenship | Who are Filipino Citizens

What makes a person Filipino? Is he automatically Filipino if born in Philippine soil or if he’s born from a Filipino family? This article will be a discourse regarding citizenship and domicile as embodied in Philippine laws.

“ARTICLE 48. The following are citizens of the Philippines:1

“(1) Those who were citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the Philippines;2

“(2) Those born in the Philippines of foreign parents who, before the adoption of said Constitution, had been elected to public office in the Philippines;3

“(3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines;3

“(4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and, upon reaching the age of majority, elect Philippine citizenship;3

“(5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law. (n)2

Citizenship is the status of being a citizen, or of owing allegiance to a state for the privilege of being under its protection.4 In a clearer sense, citizenship is a relationship between a person owing allegiance to the state while the latter protects the former in return.

Allegiance is the obligation of fidelity and obedience which the individuals owe to the government under which they live or to their sovereign, in return for the protection they receive.5 It must be noted that the rule on citizenship is governed by the Constitution. Thus:

SECTION 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:6

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution;7

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines;7

(3) Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and7

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.7

SECTION 2. Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.7

SECTION 3. Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the manner provided by law.7

SECTION 4. Citizens of the Philippines who marry aliens shall retain their citizenship, unless by their act or omission they are deemed, under the law, to have renounced it.7

SECTION 5. Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.7

Article IV of the Constitution clearly provides for the rule on citizenship. A person is considered a Filipino citizen if:

(1) he is a citizen of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of the 1987 Constitution;

(2) if either or both of his parents are Filipino citizens;

(3) if he is born from a Filipino mother and chose to elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority and is born before January 17, 1973; and

(4) if he is naturalized according to the rule laid down by Philippine laws. The first three are the ones considered as natural-born Filipinos.

While it is true that there is no stated period when electing Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, has been construed to mean a reasonable time after reaching the age of majority which had been interpreted by the Secretary of Justice to be three (3) years.8

Natural Born 


Seulgi was born in 1974 in the USA to an American father, and a mother who was a Filipino. Her mother applied for American citizenship before Seulgi’s birth, and she then became a naturalized American citizen. Is Seulgi a natural-born Filipino?

Answer: No, she is not a natural-born Filipino because at the time of her birth, her father and mother were both American citizens.

Jinnie was born in Australia of a foreign father and a Filipino mother. Her mother applied for Australian citizenship 2 years after Jinnie’s birth, then became a naturalized Australian citizen after. Is Jinnie a natural-born Filipino?

Answer: Yes, he is a natural-born Filipino since one of his parents was a Filipino at the time of his birth.

What are the modes of acquiring Citizenship?

There are two modes of acquiring citizenship which are as follows:

Filipino at Birth9

Jus sanguinis (right of blood)—is the legal principle that, at birth, an individual acquires the nationality of his/her natural parent/s wherever he may be born. The Philippines has adhered to this principle.10

Jus soli (right of soil)—is the legal principle that a person’s nationality at birth is determined by the place of birth.10

What is Naturalization?

Filipino through naturalization is the other mode of acquiring citizenship. It is the judicial act of adopting a foreigner and clothing him with the privileges of a native-born citizen. It implies the renunciation of a former nationality and the fact of entrance into a similar relation towards a new body politic.11

ARTICLE 49. Naturalization and the loss and reacquisition of citizenship of the Philippines are governed by special laws. (n)12

When is a person considered as a dual-citizen? A person is considered a dual citizen when he possesses two citizenships at the same time as a result of the interaction of the laws between two countries. A person can be a dual citizen by choice or by birth.13

Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition

Republic Act No. 9225,14 otherwise known as the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003, declares that natural born Filipinos who were naturalized in other countries could reacquire or retain their Philippine citizenship after undergoing the procedure provided for under the law.

The aforementioned act took effect on September 17, 2003 and is also commonly referred to as the Dual Citizenship Act. Philippine citizenship is reacquired by taking the Philippine oath of allegiance before a duly authorized Philippine official.

While a person takes his oath of allegiance to our state, this does not require one to renounce his allegiance to any other country.15

The Oath of Allegiance is the final act that confers Philippine citizenship. It reads as follows:

“I_______________, solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and local orders promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines, and I hereby declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto, and that I impose this obligation upon myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”16

Only those who are natural-born Filipinos who have acquired the citizenship of another country through naturalization may retain or re-acquire their Philippine citizenship, making them dual citizens of both the Philippines and the country where they were naturalized.

Persons who were naturalized Filipinos before acquiring the citizenship of another country are not eligible for Philippine dual citizenship. Those who are not natural born Filipinos are not eligible to apply under this Act.17


Minji was born in the Philippines to a Korean father and a Filipino mother in 1996. She has lived her whole life in the Philippines including completion of her education. At the age of 19, she went to Korea and applied under the Citizenship Act.

Her application was granted, however one requirement was that the applicant should renounce any foreign citizenship. Five years later, Minji returned to the Philippines to further study medicine and wanted to re-acquire her Philippine citizenship. Is Minji eligible to re-acquire her Philippine citizenship under RA 9225?

Answer: Yes, Minji is eligible to re-acquire her Philippine citizenship under RA 9225. She is considered a natural-born Filipino since her mother is a Filipino citizen at her birth, before renouncing to apply for Korean citizenship.

In another scenario:

Applying the same facts from the case above with her mother obtaining Korean citizenship before her birth and Minji having obtained Philippine citizenship through naturalization before renouncing it for her Korean citizenship, is Minji still eligible to re-acquire her Philippine citizenship?

Answer: No, Minji is not eligible under RA 9225. She is not a natural-born Filipino and had acquired her Philippine citizenship only through naturalization, before renouncing to apply for Korean citizenship.

Domicile denotes a fixed permanent residence to which, when absent one has the intention of returning. Residence is used to indicate a place of abode, whether permanent or temporary. Domicile is residence coupled with the intention to remain for an unlimited time. No length of residence without intention of remaining will constitute domicile.18

ARTICLE 50. For the exercise of civil rights and the fulfillment of civil obligations, the domicile of natural persons is the place of their habitual residence. (40a)19

ARTICLE 51. When the law creating or recognizing them, or any other provision does not fix the domicile of juridical persons, the same shall be understood to be the place where their legal representation is established or where they exercise their principal functions. (41a)20

Under the Family Code, the husband and wife shall fix the family domicile. In case of disagreement, the Court shall decide.21 In case of a minor, he follows the domicile of his parents. If the child is illegitimate, the domicile of the mother is followed.

  1. Article 48, Civil Code of the Philippines[]
  2. Id.[][]
  3. Id.[][][]
  4. 1 Paras supra at 264[]
  5. LB Reyes (2021). The Revised Penal Code. Book Two. Rex Printing Company, Inc. p. 4[]
  6. Article IV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution[]
  7. Id.[][][][][][][][]
  8. Velayo, supra at p. 51 citing Op., Sec. of Justice No. 70, s. 1940, Feb. 27, 1940[]
  9. Citizenship[]
  10. Id.[][]
  11. 2 Am. Jur. 561, par. 188[]
  12. Article 49 of the Civil Code of the Philippines[]
  13. Supra., Citizenship[]
  14. Republic Act No. 9225[]
  15. Id., “An Act Making the Citizenship of Philippine Citizens Who Acquire Foreign Citizenship Permanent”[]
  16. Id.[]
  17. Id.[]
  18. MS Sta. Maria (2019). Persons and Family Relations Law. Rex Printing Company, Inc. p.95[]
  19. Article 50 of the Civil Code f the Philippines[]
  20. Article 51 of the Civil Code f the Philippines[]
  21. Article 69 of the Family Code of the Philippines[]

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