Before you study the Civil Code...

Article 1. This Act shall be known as the "Civil Code of the Philippines."

This Article announces the birth of the New Civil Code of the Philippines. Although this Article is seldom given attention to and often ignored for its apparent "lack of bearing" in the BAR Exams, it must still be noted that this Article actually poses a lot of questions:(1) What is Civil Law and how does it differ from other laws?
(2) Why is this Code usually referred to as the "New" Civil Code? Was there an Old Code?
(3) Was this Code an original piece of work of the Congress of the Philippines or was it a copy of other legislative literatures?

The above and such other questions must first be addressed before a student enters the colorful world of Civil Law.

CIVIL LAW is that branch of law that generally treats of the personal and family relations of an individual, his property and successional rights and the effects of his obligations and contracts. From this definition, it can be inferred that Civil Law covers laws on Persons, Family and Marriage, Property, Obligations, and Contracts.

CIVIL LAW is likewise defined as that mass of precepts that determine and regulate the relations of assistance, authority , and obedience among members of a family, and those which exist among members of a society for the protection of private interests. (Sanchez Roman)

It is also worth noting that the word "civil" came from the latin term "civiles" which means "citizen." This word is used to distinguish a member of a civilization from a savage or a barbarian.

What is the difference between Civil Law and Political Law? A law student should always remember that Civil Law governs the relationship of persons within a family and within a society. Whereas, Political Law governs the relationship between the people and the government, marking the line between the exercise of governmental powers and the enjoyment of the people of their rights.

This is the reason why "succession of rights in cases of death in a conflagration" as referred to in the Civil Code does not apply when it comes to succession of rights to an office in case of death of candidates to a position.

Are Civil Law and Civil Code the same? No, they are not. Although one can surely get civil rights and obligations from the Civil Code, the latter is nevertheless not the only source thereof. The Civil Code is merely a codification, a repository, so to speak, of civil laws thought of and written long time ago.

There exist other civil laws outside the Civil Code. The Child and Youth Welfare Code, the Family Code of 1987, the Inter-Country Adoption Act and others are also sources of Civil Law.