by B Estilo

MORA ADONG v. CHEONG SENG GEE, GR No. 18081, 1922-03-03


Cheong Boo, a native of China, died intestate in Zamboanga, Philippine Islands, on August 5, 1919. He left property worth nearly P100,000.

Cheong Seng Gee, who alleged that he was a legitimate child by a marriage... contracted by Cheong Boo with Tan Dit in China in 1895.

Mora Adong who alleged that she had been lawfully married to Cheong Boo in 1896 in Basilan, Philippine Islands, and her daughters, Payang, married to Cheng Bian Chay, and

Rosalia Cheong Boo, unmarried.

partition of the property of the deceased Cheong Boo between the natural children, Cheong Seng Gee, Payang, and


legal issues submitted for decision by the numerous assignments of error, these can best be... resolved under two heads, namely: (1) The validity of the Chinese marriage; and (2) the validity of the Mohammedan marriage.

Cheong Seng Gee was that Cheong Boo was married in the city of Amoy, China, during the second moon of the twenty- first year of the Emperor Quang Su, or, according to the modern count, on February 16, 1895, to a young lady named

Tan Dit. Witnesses were presented who testified to having been present at the marriage ceremony.

Chinaman Cheong Boo is fairly complete. He appears to have first landed on Philippine soil sometime prior to the year 1896. At least, in the year last mentioned, we find him in Basilan, Philippine Islands. There... he was married to the Mora Adong according to the ceremonies prescribed by the book on marriage of the Koran, by the Mohammedan Iman (priest) Habubakar. That a marriage ceremony took place is established by one of the parties to the marriage, the Mora Adong, by the Iman who... solemnized the marriage, and by other eyewitnesses, one of whom was the father of the bride, and another, the chief of the rancheria, now a municipal councillor. The groom complied with Quranic law by giving to the bride a dowry of P250 in money and P250 in goods.

From the marriage day until the death of Cheong Boo, twenty-three years later, the Chinaman and the Mora Adong cohabited as husband and wife.

Both in his relations with Mora Adong and with third... persons during his lifetime, Cheong Boo treated Adong as his lawful wife. He admitted this relationship in several private and public documents. Thus, when different legal documents were executed, including decrees of registration, Cheong Boo stated that he was married to the

Mora Adong, while as late as 1918, he gave written consent to the marriage of his minor daughter, Payang.


legal issues submitted for decision by the numerous assignments of error, these can best be... resolved under two heads, namely: (1) The validity of the Chinese marriage; and (2) the validity of the Mohammedan marriage.

Are the marriages performed in the Philippines according to the rites of the Mohammedan religion valid? Three sections of the Marriage Law

(General Order No. 68) must be taken into consideration.


year 1895, when Cheong Boo was supposed to have been in China, he was in reality in Jolo, in the Philippine

Islands. We are not disposed to disturb this appreciation of fact by the trial court. The immigration documents only go to show the relation of parent and child existing between the deceased Cheong Boo and his son Cheong Seng Gee and do not establish the marriage between the... deceased and the mother of Cheong Seng Gee.

Section IV of the Marriage Law (General Order No. 68) provides that "All marriages contracted without these Islands, which would be valid by the laws of the country in which the same were contracted, are valid in these Islands." To establish a valid foreign marriage pursuant... to this comity provision, it is first necessary to prove before the courts of the Islands the existence of the foreign law as a question of fact, and it is then necessary to prove the alleged foreign marriage by convincing evidence.

Priest," according to the lexicographers, means one especially... consecrated to the service of a divinity and considered as the medium through whom worship, prayer, sacrifice, or other service is to be offered to the being worshipped, and pardon, blessing, deliverance, etc., obtained by the worshipper, as a priest of Baal or of Jehovah; a

Buddhist priest. "Minister of the Gospel" means all clergymen of every denomination and faith. A "denomination" is a religious sect having a particular name. (Haggin vs. Haggin [1892], 35 Neb., 375; In re Reinhart, 9 0. Dec, 441; Hale vs. Everett [1868], 53 N. H., 9.) A

Mohammedan Iman is a "priest or minister of the Gospel," and Mohammedanism is a "denomination," within the meaning of the Marriage Law.

While it is true that during the Mohammedan ceremony, the remarks of the priest were addressed more to the elders than to the participants, it is... likewise true that the Chinaman and the Mora woman did in fact take each other to be husband and wife and did thereafter live together as husband and wife. (Travers vs. Reinhardt [1907], 205 U, S., 423.)

The rule as to Mormon marriages is that the sealing ceremony entered into before a proper official by members of that Church competent to contract marriage constitutes a valid marriage.

If the... legislative power can declare what shall be valid marriages, it can render valid, marriages which, when they took place, were against the law. Public policy should aid acts intended to validate marriages and should retard acts intended to invalidate marriages. (

We regard the evidence as producing a moral conviction of the existence of the Mohammedan marriage. We regard the provisions of section IX of the Marriage Law as validating marriages performed according to the rites of the Mohammedan religion.

In resume, we find the Chinese marriage not to be proved and that the Chinaman Cheong Seng Gee has only the rights of a natural child, and we find the Mohammedan... marriage to be proved and to be valid, thus giving to the widow and the legitimate children of this union the rights accruing to them under the law.


Section V of the Marriage Law provides that "Marriage may be solemnized by either a judge of any court inferior to the Supreme Court, justice, of the peace, or priest or minister of the Gospel of any denomination * * *"

Marriage Law, No. VI, provides that "No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required, but the parties must declare, in the presence of the person solemnizing the marriage, that they take each other as husband and wife."... section IX, reading as follows: "No marriage heretofore... solemnized before any person professing to have authority therefor shall be invalid for want of such authority or on account of any informality, irregularity, or omission, if it was celebrated with the belief of the parties, or either of them, that he had authority and that they... have been lawfully married."

The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it is a new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of... the law leans toward legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any counter-presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact married.

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