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In 1927, Lorenzo Llorente, then a Filipino, was enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
In 1937, he and Paula Llorente got married in Camarines Sur. In 1943, Lorenzo became
an American citizen. In 1945, Lorenzo returned to the Philippines for a vacation. He
discovered that Paula was already living illicitly with Ceferino Llorente (brother of
Lorenzo). Ceferino and Paula even had a son. Lorenzo then refused to live with Paula.
He also refused to give her monetary support. Eventually, Lorenzo and Paula agreed in
writing Lorenzo shall not criminally charge Paula if the latter agrees to waive all
monetary support from Lorenzo. Later, Lorenzo returned to the United States. In 1951,
Lorenzo filed a divorce proceeding against Paula in California. Paula was represented
by an American counsel. The divorce was granted and in 1952, the divorce became
final. Lorenzo returned to the Philippines. In 1958, Lorenzo married Alicia Fortuno. They
had three children. In 1981, Lorenzo executed his last will and testament where he left
all his estate to Alicia and their children (nothing for Paula). In 1983, he went to court for
the wills probate and to have Alicia as the administratrix of his property. In 1985, before
the probate proceeding can be terminated, Lorenzo died. Later, Paula filed a petition for
letters of administration over Lorenzos estate. The trial court ruled that Lorenzos
marriage with Alicia is void because the divorce he obtained abroad is void. The trial
court ratiocinated that Lorenzo is a Filipino hence divorce is not applicable to him. The
Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.
ISSUE: WON Lorenzos last will is valid.

The Civil Code provides:

Art. 17. The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other public
instruments shall be governed by the laws of the country in which they are executed.
When the acts referred to are executed before the diplomatic or consular officials of the
Republic of the Philippines in a foreign country, the solemnities established by
Philippine laws shall be observed in their execution. The clear intent of Lorenzo to
bequeath his property to his second wife and children by her is glaringly shown in the
will he executed. We do not wish to frustrate his wishes, since he was a foreigner, not
covered by our laws on family rights and duties, status, condition and legal capacity.
Whether the will is intrinsically valid and who shall inherit from Lorenzo are issues best
proved by foreign law which must be pleaded and proved. Whether the will was
executed in accordance with the formalities required is answered by referring to
Philippine law. In fact, the will was duly probated.
As a guide however, the trial court should note that whatever public policy
or good customs may be involved in our system of legitimes, Congress did not intend to
extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. Congress specifically left the
amount of successional rights to the decedents national law.