As a lawyer, i am aware that not all people are keen to know all the legalities, standard procedures, or legal jargons of Philippine law. But as a private law-abiding citizen, i expect and yes, hope and wish, that at least people who deal in contracts/legal transactions at least know the most common SOPs. I am fully aware that Pinoys have the reputation to forego some standard operating procedures in the name of pakikisama, lagay, or just sheer ignorance. And a few weeks ago, it was unfortunate that I became a witness to it.

I call the incident the tale of the printed name under the proverbial signature. My UK-based cousin and her British husband were planning to buy a piece of property and since the British are familiar to having their transactions done for them by solicitors, my cousin dragged me into their meeting with the developer and the architect of the house they were intending to purchase. I was asked to sign as a witness. Honestly, I was already a little dubious about transacting with these people the minute I saw them. I refuse to sound bias and judgmental but I am a person who value first impressions and instincts. They were a bunch of late 50s professionals alright, but they were too haughty fro my taste. It’s hard to explain but coming from the same province, I knew people like them and people who are so unlike them.

As I was listening to their discussions and presentations to my oh-so-trusting cousin and her equally oh-so-mesmerized-with-a-good-buy husband, I already had my reservations but I just it kept to myself. Maybe my radar was malfunctioning right? Who knows? Besides, they are the buyers, it’s their money and they did personally saw the property already so I was just there to see that everything the sellers were saying were within legal bounds.

Then it happened. My cousin raised the issue of asking for a warranty clause in the contract. She asked if the sellers would be so kind to grant them a warranty for a period of two years. I practically saw and heard the developer and the architect buckled on their seats. Then nagturuan na sila who would shoulder the repairs covered by the warranty! The architect apparently would want to pass the buck to the developer but the developer wanted that it should be shared between them. Here we go, I thought to myself.

Then came the contract signing. They asked me to sign as one of the witness, so I did. Now I have to tell you that my full name is really quite long, consisting of at least 26 letters. So writing it in print plus the signature would really take a minute or so. But heck, it’s a contract I was signing so I had to do it the right way. Right?

According to the developer, I was wrong. You don’t have to print your name anymore. Just sign it. The minute I heard these words I swear my ears tingled a whole lot. Come again?! No need to print my name as a witness? Just sign it with my obscure signature? Are you fucking kidding me?! Even people who deliver my monthly bills at my doorstep ask me to PRINT my full name legibly under my signature on their receipt sheets for record purposes and this developer was telling me to just practically put a cross on the space above the word Witness? Goodness gracious and these people are selling real properties to real people!!

It doesn’t take a lawyer or a professional to know the SOPs about signing a contract or any other document. Without printing your name legibly below your signature, who can attest that such signature actually belong to you? How can they trace the signature back to you? And they are professionals, with valid licenses and credentials. But this small lapse somehow gave me the idea that there are many people like them around who do not know the possible legal circumstances of their lapses and ignorance.

That’s why no one could blame the slight shrill in my voice when I snapped back at that retort with “I’m fine with printing my name under my signature.”

Besides, I love writing my full name in PRINT.