Philippine Peso Coins and Banknotes

Philippine Coins and Banknotes

Fake 10 Peso Coins

photo from

The Central Bank never thought someone would actually bother counterfeiting 10 peso coins. To their big surprise, some syndicates did take up the challenge and minted fake 5 and 10 peso coins. In one raid, they even seized 5 million pesos worth of 10 peso coins.

A few clues on how to spot these fake coins:
  1. The fake coins are dated either 2001 or 2002. Be more careful with coins bearing these dates.
  2. Fake coins stick to magnets. While the genuine coins are made up of an alloy of aluminum, copper, nickel, and zinc, the counterfeit ones are made of steel.
  3. The fake coins tend to rust, real ones don't. This is because of their metal composition. The image above shows rust on the outer ring.
  4. The fake coins are lighter. Again, this is because they are made of a different metal.
  5. Fake coins are not well minted. Upon closer examination, the fake coins miss out some details. Click on the image above and you will see the "B" in "Bonifacio" to be distorted. The other letters are also indistinct. The edge of the inner metal (yellow) is also uneven.
Possession of these fake currency is illegal so surrender them to the nearest bank. Don't expect them to refund you!

Take note that only 10 and 5 peso have been counterfeited so far. Some 1 peso and 25 centavo coins stick to magnets, but this is because the Bangko Sentral changed their composition to prevent their smuggling. That's another topic.

Banknote Error - "Arrovo" on 100 Peso Banknote

The 100-Piso bill became subject of controversy after bills printed in France were printed with the President's name misspelled, the first in Philippine history. The bills, which are still legal tender, spelled the President's name as "Gloria Macapagal-Arrovo" instead of the correct "Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo".

The error was realized only when the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) emloyees started withdrawing their salaries from the bank's ATMs. The Central Bank claims that less than 1,000 pieces of this banknote have been released into circulation. The defective banknotes that were still in the vault of Bangko Sentral were shredded.

Opposition Congressman Rolex Suplico of Iloilo commented:
“My Spanish teacher told me ‘rovo’ sounded like ‘robo,’ which means robbery in Spanish. This is from ‘robar,’ which means to rob someone.”
President Arroyo was accused by the opposition of corruption and cheating in the 2004 elections.

The French printer Francois Charles Oberthur Fiduciare, the third-largest private banknote printer in the world, shouldered the cost of 19.477 million or 25% of the total 77.9 million misspelled banknotes. In addition, 58.43 million or 75% of the total were replaced by the printer.

The last time the BSP commited a misspelling in the currency was in the early 1980's. The scientific name of the Philippine Eagle on the 50 centavo coin, Pitheco
paga jefferyi" was misspelled as "Pithecobaga jefferyi".

Security Feature: Perfect See-Through Register

Some of our Philippine banknotes have a perfect see-through register feature. A good example would be the 2000 bill.

On the banknote's front side, near the upper-left corner, one would find the seemingly abstract shapes:
Similar symbols appear on the reverse of the note near the upper-right corner.

So what do these strange symbols stand for? Actually, nothing! That is until we hold the note up to the light and see them together form the letters "BSP" which is the acronym for Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The prints at the back and front of the banknote are printed such that they "register" "perfect"ly with one another. They are printed exactly over one another to create a complete image when held up to the light. This is the perfect see-through register security feature. Ordinary printing methods will find it hard to be able to achieve the same accuracy in printing.

A perfect see-through register may also be found on the 200 peso banknote. The 200 outline in front and the blue 200 at the back meet in one zero to form another perfect see-through register. However, for this particular note I have photographed and many other 200 peso bills, the register is not that "prefect" at all.

Check out the 50 peso bill. It has a more "perfect" see-through register in one of its zeros.

Why are there stars in the serial number?

Ordinarily, one or two letters followed by six or seven numbers comprise the serial number in Philippine banknotes. Occasionally, we encounter bills with stars in the serial number instead of letters.

If you are holding a bill with a star in the serial number, then what you have is a replacement banknote.

For some reason, an error occurred during the printing of the bills at the Central Bank. These defective notes are destroyed and are reprinted, but this time with a star in the serial number.

Where are the Microprints?

Some had extreme difficulty in finding the location of the microprints referred to in a previous post. I highlighted their exact locations in the following banknote images to spare you from straining your eyes too much. Now you should be able to find them!

50 peso bill

100 peso bill

200 peso bill

500 peso bil

1000 peso bill

For more information on these microprints and a close-up view of them, check this post.