The Interpretation of a Contract

Section 15. Peculiar signification of terms. – The terms of a writing are presumed to have been used in their primary and general acceptation, but evidence is admissible to show that they have a local, technical, or otherwise peculiar signification, and were so used and understood in the particular instance, in which case the agreement must be construed accordingly. (14)


Mabait allowed Mahusay to enjoy and use his one hectare of parcel of land. It is stipulated – “Mahusay gamitin mo ang bukirin ko at bahala kana”. Mahusay used the land and harvested several cavans of palay, but he is not giving anything to Mabait.

The given situation is susceptible of two interpretations. The 1st interpretation is Mabait and Mahusay agreed on a Contract of Usufructuary, which favors “only” to Mahusay. The 2nd interpretation is Mabait and Mahusay entered into a Contract of Lease or Tenancy which is favorable to Mabait and also to Mahusay. 

The phrase “bahala ka na” could be interpreted first in primary or general acceptance, which could mean the free use of the land and it favors Mahusay. However, Mabait may introduce evidence to show a local, technical or other meaning of the phrase “bahala ka na”, which could also mean that if Mahusay earned money in using the land he should give something to Mabait in return for the use of the land. 

How to judge the intention of the parties?

In order to judge the intention of the contracting parties, their contemporaneous and subsequent acts shall be principally considered. (Benguet Corporation vs. Cabildo, 563 SCRA 25).   

Section 16. Written words control printed. – When an instrument consists partly of written words and partly of a printed form, and the two [(2)] are inconsistent, the former controls the latter. (15)


It was written in the promissory note the following: “Bong promised to pay to the order of Berna, for value received, the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P1,000,000)”.

The interpretation of the promissory note should be the amount of written in words, which is Ten Thousand Pesos, shall prevail over the amount in form/figure of P1,000,000.

In manual election, the votes tallied by a “tara” shall prevail against the votes tallied by a number written in words’ or written in form/figure. The “tara” is used for the manual counting of votes which was happened on the recently Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

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