Philippine Peso Coins and Banknotes

Philippine Coins and Banknotes

Security Features: Embedded Threads

Hold up your paper bills to the light and, depending on the denomination, you will immediately see one or two vertical lines within the banknote. They are there as security features to make it very difficult for counterfeiters to imitate real currency. Likewise, they are there to help you differentiate the counterfeit from the genuine.

Embedded security thread

The embedded security thread is a special thread vertically implanted off center of the note during the manufacture of the banknote paper. This can easily be seen when the note is viewed against the light. It appears as a broken line for 5’s, 10’s and 20’s and straight line for 50’s, 100’s, 200’s , 500’s and 1000’s. Try folding the banknote along this line and you will feel the distinct stiffness of the thread. With some determination, it is also possible to manually remove these threads from the banknotes - but don't do that! It's illegal.

On the photo above, the embedded security thread is the solid vertical line on the left.

Windowed Colorshift with Cleartext Security Thread
This is a 1.4 mm security thread vertically located like “stitches” at the face of the note. It changes in color from magenta to green or green to magenta depending on the angle of view. When viewed against the light, it appears as a single solid line and the corresponding denomination of the banknote will show through. This security feature is only present in the 100s, 500s, and newer 1000-peso bills.

The BSP does not buy coins higher than face value

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) formally announced that it does not buy coins at prices higher than their face value.

The BSP is most likely referring to the hearsay that it is buying back 10 peso coins allegedly containing gold. One of our anonymous readers claimed that someone even bought his his or her 10 peso coin for 1000 pesos. In, the 10 peso coin is also being sold for 1000 pesos.

“The BSP is the sole issuer of currency in the Philippines. It mints and circulates coins in accordance with its mandate to supply the currency requirements of the banking system and sustain economic growth. It determines the different denominations of our money, both banknotes and coins, and the public should accept them at face value, no more, no less,” says the Bangko Sentral media release.

In the same announcement, the BSP also reiterated that defacing/mutilating and the smuggling of Philippine coins “are criminal acts punishable by law under Presidential Decree 247 and BSP Circular 98, Series of 1995 in relation to Section 2530 (f) of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, as amended.”

Please report any information against these criminal acts to the BSP.

A whole sack of shredded money

-removed by request of BSP-

100 Peso Bill - English Series

(photo courtesy of Sonny Ronquillo)
One Hundred Peso Banknote

1949 English Series

Obverse: Tandang Sora (Melchora Aquino) and the Central Bank Seal
Reverse: various flags of the Katipunan

Signatures: Philippine President Elpidio Quirino and Central Bank Governor Miguel Cuaderno, Sr.

Central Bank of the Philippines. This note is a liability of the Central Bank of the Philippines and is fully guaranteed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. One Hundred Pesos. This note is legal tender in the Philippines for all debts, public and private. Thomas De La Rue & Co. Ltd.

How are banknotes made?

Ever wondered how the paper money we have in our wallets are printed?

Banknote printing
is actually a complicated process that requires sophisticated equipment that is usually only available to central banks of issuing countries. In the Philippines, the Bangko Sentral gives us a simple outline of how they do it:

The making of a banknote starts with the conceptualization of design. The concept is drawn by an artist into a prototype banknote. Once the prototype is approved, a master die is prepared from which printing plates are produced. Production then takes place involving the following steps:

Litho Printing. Impressions are printed on a rubber blanket cylinder. These are in turn transferred to the sheets of banknote paper. Both sides of the sheets are printed simultaneously with multi-color or rainbow background prints.

Intaglio Printing. After the background colors are printed, engraved features of the banknote are printed at the intaglio machines, which produce the tactile or embossed effect on the banknotes.

Sheet Inspection. The printed sheets are inspected for printing faults. Defective notes are cancelled and incinerated for security reasons.

Numbering. The good sheets go to the numbering machines for the printing of serial numbers.

Tenning. Numbered sheets undergo inspection of every tenth sheet for other printing defects which were not detected earlier.

Finishing. The numbered sheets finally go through finishing which involves cutting into notes, counting, packaging.

Here's a video courtesy of describing how dollar bills are printed in the US. This process should be similar to how the Bangko Sentral does it in the Philippines.

International Coin Design Competition 2008

Have you ever dreamed of your own design appearing on a coin? Do you want to win some cash at the same time? Well, you can be happy today because the Japan Mint is once again accepting entries for the International Coin Design Competition (ICDC) 2008!

The contest is open to all nationalities and has both a General and Student category. The contest has the aim of "encouraging coin designers around the world in their creative activities and enhancing the artistry of their coin designs."

For the General Category, all ages are eligible to join. all that is needed is a sketch and plaster design of the coin concept. A Y500,000 (about PhP200,000) prize, plaque, and medal based on his or her entry awaits the winner. Only a sketch design is required for the Student Category. The winner stands to win Y50,000 and an award plaque.

See more details at the Japan Mint website.

There were not that much entries sent in last year and looking at the winning designs, it might not be that hard to win. The contest does not aim to create new coins for circulation but will produce the coins in medallions such as last year's winner.

The deadline for entries is August 31, 2008 so you better start minting those creative ideas!

1906-S One Peso Coin - US-Philippine series

One of the rarest coins in the US-Philippine series is the 1906-S 1 peso. The mintage of this coin was said to be a good 201,000(ref) but before they were released in the Philippines, the value of silver has risen so sharply that most of the coins were shipped back to America to be melted. Many of the remaining coins were also damaged from being thrown into the sea when the Japanese invaded the Philippines. Luckily, an estimated 250 of them still exist.

I spotted this 1906-S peso being sold in eBay this morning for $1325. The seller claims the catalog value for this coin in EF grade is $3200. This coin is seldom auctioned off in eBay so you might want to buy it now!

Due to its rarity, many counterfeits of the 1906-S peso coin exist, some made from authentic 1903-S to 1905-S coins.

The seller gives us some tips on how to tell a genuine 1906-S peso.

1) All genuine 1906-S have the straight serif "1" . But beware of a shaven curved serif 1.
2) Check the number "9". The genuine pieces have a larger and rounder knob.
3) The number "0" which the upper inner loop to the right of the 0 is straight rather than oval.
4) Check the number "6" which the knob should be slightly in a teardrop shape rather than round.

Banknote error: blank reverse

Here is an interesting banknote error we encountered in ebay - the reverse of the 1,000 peso banknote was not completely printed! The image above shows the banknote with error (top) and how a normal banknote should have appeared (bottom).

The reverse of the error banknote is almost blank. Upon close inspection, it appears that all the lighter background colors were applied on the reverse in the litho printing step. What's missing is the dark-blue intaglio print which makes up most of the design.

, but the printer seems to have run out of the dark blue ink. This should give us an idea on how our paper money are printed.

Do you want to own this banknote? Hurry, before the auction ends! Buy it here.

Poll results: Which coins should be phased out?

After the voting period, a total of 27 casted their votes and here's what they have to say.

  • 17 (62%) do not want to phase out any coin
  • 10 (38%) want to phase out at least one coin wherein
    • 10 (37%) want to phase out the 1 centavo coin
    • 7 (25%) want to phase out the 5 centavo coin
    • 6 (22%) want to phase out the 10 centavo coin
    • 1 (3%) want to phase out the 25 centavo coin

Most of the voters do not see the need to phase out any coin. The preference to phase out a coin also decreases with an increase in its face value. Only one voted to phase out the 25 centavo coin, understandably because it is still widely used.

While our voters have chosen to keep all the coins legal tender, it does not prevent these small coins from being forgotten in piggy banks, drawers, and bag pockets.

In case you have a heap of coins cluttering your home or office, the Bangko Sentral has an award-winning program that aims to recirculate those coins and raise funds to provide computers to public schools.

The program's slogan sums it up: Ang Barya Mahalaga, Lalo na Kapag Pinagsama-sama

100-piso note with UP Oblation officially launched!

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has finally issued 100-piso banknotes with an overprint of the iconic UP Oblation to commemorate the centennial of the University of the Philippines (UP). Bangko Sentral printed 10 million pieces of the 100-piso banknotes with the oblation overprint. At its launching, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco, Jr. presented to UP President Emerlinda Roman a whole sheet with 32 pieces of the 100-piso UP centennial banknotes.

According to UP President Roman, the 4-piece uncut notes being sold for P1000 a set took P500 to produce. That means for every set you buy, you are also contributing P500 for the development of UP.

Order your own collectible centennial notes now! The collectible uncut notes will be sold for P1,500 a set after June 30!

Poll: Which coins should be phased out?

Do you think it is practical to use the small centavo coins? Most of these 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavo coins are probably hidden away and forgotten in piggy banks and donation boxes. What can you buy with them anyway? Please vote on our poll at the right side of this blog. You may choose more than one option.

Other than some established supermarkets in the country, most stores would round-down your change to the nearest 25 centavos. Some would even substitute candy as change because they don't have enough of the small coins. Why? Simply because the small centavo coins hardly circulate since people don't bother to use them anymore.

Why mint these small coins if they have no practical use? With high metal prices, they have become expensive to mint and prone to smuggling. Facing similar problems, other countries already phased out their lower denominated coins and mandated that transactions should be rounded off to the lowest available coin (e.g. 5 cents).

Should the Bangko Sentral insist on producing these small centavo coins? Or should it focus on its Coin Recirculation Program instead? Please vote on our poll.

This poll has ended. See the results.

2500 Peso Gold Commemorative Coin - Corazon Aquino / Ronald Reagan

Twenty Five Hundred Piso Gold Proof Coin
1986 State Visit of Corazon Aquino to the United States
photos courtesy of PandAmerica Corp.

Obverse: Corazon Aquino, Republika ng Pilipinas, 1986, 2500 Piso
Reverse: Ronald Reagan, Official Working Visit, Washington DC, September 1986

Shape: round
Material: Gold
Mintage: Approximately 1000
Date of minting: December 10, 1986
Months after the People Power Revolution of 1986, Philippine President Corazon Aquino made an official working visit to Washington DC to meet with President Ronald Reagan and other US Government officials. Regarded worldwide as a symbol of democracy, President Aquino's state visit must have been of historic importance that the Franklin Mint of the United States struck this gold proof coin to commemorate the event.

Cheap collectors' items from BSP

The Bangko Sentral website was updated weeks ago and, surprisingly, they are now selling Bagong Lipunan, Pilipino Series, and English Series banknotes. What was more surprising? They were selling the notes at their former face value!

Thus, a 200 piso note from the English Series is also selling at 200 pesos. That is quite a bargain since, I would assume, they only offer uncirculated notes. Buying similar items at ebay or collector's shops would cost you much more. The website is also selling other commemorative coins and banknotes at relatively bargain prices. Of course! You're buying directly from the maker.

To order, you need to place an online inquiry and include your full name, contact number, and email address. Just hope they soon respond to your query. Last time I inquired about a commemorative coin they responded after more than a month.

Check out the commemorative coins and banknotes for sale at the BSP website.

Share the money

Collecting money is cool but sharing it with those who need help is even better.

Our brethren in China and Myanmar need all the help and support we can give. While death tolls have reached the tens of thousands, millions continue to suffer from the lack of basic needs, even as you are reading this blog post. Let's not stop at reading the news and feeling sorry for them. Take real action in helping them.

Donate to the victims of the China quake

Donate to the victims of the cyclone in Myanmar

Please post these donation gadgets for China & Myanmar in your own websites or blogs or simply refer your friends to this page. For every dollar you donate, Google will match it with another dollar.

Please let us know you have donated by leaving a comment. ^_^

Waiting for the new 100 peso bills

It's already the middle of May and still, there is no sign of the 100 peso bill with the UP centennial overprint. Of course we have the uncut notes, but the centennial notes are yet to be in circulation.

It makes me wonder why it's taking so long. Or am I just too excited? I have seen the 2008 series of the 20, 50, and 500 peso bills but the 100 peso notes are nowhere to be found. I've checked with some banks and the newest hundred bills they got are still dated 2007.

Perhaps the Bangko Sentral has yet to exhaust their inventory of the 2007 series? Or is it possible they're holding off the release while the uncut notes continue to sell?

Whatever the reason, surely the banknotes with the UP oblation will be in circulation this year-the centennial year of the University of the Philippines.

Piloncitos - the first coins of the Philippines

Piloncitos are tiny engraved bead-like gold bits unearthed in the Philippines. They are the first recognized coinage in the Philippines circulated between the 9th and 12th centuries. They emerged when increasing trade made barter inconvenient.

The term piloncito comes from the word pilon, a local sugar container that resembles the coin. They are engraved with the Brahmanic character "ma" which looks like an upside down "R". We can only guess that this character refers to the pre-colonial kingdom of Ma-yi which is roughly the Philippines we know today.

Many piloncitos were unknowingly melted into jewelry in the past and very few exist today.

100 Peso UP Centennial Notes

To commemorate the Centennial of the University of the Philippines (UP), the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has issued 100-piso banknotes overprinted with the image of the UP Oblation. The Oblation is the iconic symbol of UP, represented by a man with arms wide-stretched and face facing up, symbolizing selfless offering of one's self to his country.

The UP Oblation overprinted on the watermark space to the right of President Manuel Acuña Roxas' portrait, symbolizes 100 years of "academic excellence, leadership and service to the nation" by "one of the most influential institutions" in the Philippines that is UP.

The overprint

The overprint is actually the silhouette of the Oblation surrounded by two concentric circles containing the words "University of the Philippines Centennial", and the years 1908 and 2008. The Oblation silhouette seems to have been ripped off from the design of the 100-peso UP silver proof coin issued in 1983 for UP's Diamond Jubilee.

The first time we learned about the planned overprinting of the Oblation, we made a prediction of how the overprint would look like. While the actual overprint is satisfactory, I was personally hoping they would just use the more presentable UP Centennial logo.

The folder that comes with a collectible series of the banknotes actually says "100-piso banknotes with the overprint of the UP Centennial 2008 logo". The actual overprint is definitely not the UP Centennial logo. Overprints, however, usually do not incorporate more than one level of black so the overprint above would have been more expensive to produce, hence the simplified design.

Buy these bills uncut, now!

The first batch of these overprinted banknotes are available for sale as a limited edition collector's item at the UP Administration Building (Quezon Hall) in UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines. Four uncut bills come with a protective folder and envelope for only P1,000 each.

Based on data gathered, only 10,000 sets of these 100 peso centennial notes will be issued so you better place your order now. Download the order form here.

If you need assistance in ordering these centennial notes, leave a comment below or in the chatbox on the right side of the page. Please forward this post to your friends who might also be interested.

50 Peso Coin - Pope John Paul II visit (1981)

50 Peso Commemorative Coin (1981)
Pope John Paul II visit to the Philippines

Obverse: Bust of Pope John Paul II, "Papa Juan Pablo II", "Pagdalaw ng Papa sa Pilipinas", 1981
Reverse: , "Lorenzo Ruiz Martir na Pilipino", "50 Piso", "Republika ng Pilipinas"

Material: Silver
27.5 grams
Diameter: 39.0 mm
Mintage: 10,000 pcs

*This post is sponsored by Frito Frio Fried Ice Cream

Gold in the 10 peso coin?

Word has been spreading that the current 10 peso coin bearing the 2000 and 2001 year mark contains gold. Specifically the inner disc of the coin is said to be worth between 10 to 14 karats, the reason why some people are hammering them out and casting them into "gold" rings.

I chanced upon a man selling some of these "gold" rings. He also presented the remains of a ten piso coin and claimed two coins are melted to create one ring. He was selling the ring for 100 pesos.

So is there gold in the current 10 peso coin?
I don't think so. According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the inner disc of the coin is made of an aluminum-bronze alloy (92% copper, 6% aluminum, 2% nickel).

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas could not be senseless to put gold into millions of coins with a face value of only 10 pesos. It might look like gold, but it isn't necessarily gold.

Hammering out the core of the 10 peso coins is a violation of Article 164 of the Revised Penal Code (An Act Prohibiting and Penalizing Defacement, Mutilation, Tearing, Burning or Destruction of Central Bank Notes and Coins). Selling of these mutilated coins is a violation of Article 165.

Art. 164. Mutilation of coins; Importation and utterance of mutilated coins. — The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period and a fine not to exceed P2,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall mutilate coins of the legal currency of the United States or of the Philippine Islands or import or utter mutilated current coins, or in connivance with mutilators or importers.

Art. 165. Selling of false or mutilated coin, without connivance. — The person who knowingly, although without the connivance mentioned in the preceding articles, shall possess false or mutilated coin with intent to utter the same, or shall actually utter such coin, shall suffer a penalty lower by one degree than that prescribed in said articles.

200 Peso Banknote - Bank of the Philippine Islands

200 Peso Banknote - Bank of the Philippine Islands (1928)
American Regime

The front features Lady Justice holding scales and the seal of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). The signatures are of D Garcia (cashier) and Fulg Borromeo (president) . The serial number has been smudged in the scan upon request of the contributor.

This is one of the rarest banknotes ever issued during the American Regime. Only 1,700 were printed and not so many have survived. A more worn out version of this banknote was sold at ebay for more than $1,000.

*This post is sponsored by Frito Frio Fried Ice Cream

Manny Pacquiao on 5 Peso Bill

The Pacquiao vs Marquez Unfinished Business boxing match is at 8AM tomorrow, Philippine time. With that, it is time to add to our online collection this interesting 5-peso bill spoof featuring Manny Pacquiao at the obverse and one of his boxing matches at the back. It is a fine revival of the five peso banknote already out of print.

This spoof of the five peso bill has circulated in the internet last 2006 after Manny Pacquiao defeated Erik Morales and Oscar Larios in much anticipated boxing matches. Efforts were made to trace the creator of this banknote spoof but to no avail. Whoever you are, nice work!

Un Peso - Revolutionary Period

Un Peso Banknote
Philippine Republic of 1898

This Un (1) Peso banknote was used by the Philippine Government of 1898 under General Emilio Aguinaldo. Notes like this with serial numbers and signatures are very rare. This note was circulated along with Cinco Pesos banknotes and 2 centimos de peso copper coins. The printing of these currency displays the determination of the Aguinaldo Government to assert its independence.

Text on obverse:
Republica Filipina Papel Moneda de Un Peso
Ley 24 Abril 1899, El Delgado del Gobierno
1 Peso
Text on obverse:
Republica Filipina Un Peso
El Presidente de la Republica, Emilio Aguinaldo; El Presidente Consejo de Gobierno, Pedro A. Paterno
Este billete sera opportunamente cambiado por la Republica Filipina, y recibido en nago de contribuciones, derechos de Aduana y todo genero obligaciones
El falsificador sera castigado con todo el rigor de la Ley
Z. Fajardo

Imprenta Nacional á cargo de Z. Fajardo

*This post is sponsored by Frito Frio Fried Ice Cream

50 Centavos Establishment of the Commonwealth Commemorative Coin

photos courtesy of dekada_collectibles of

Fifty Centavos Commemorative Coin, 1936-M
Establishment of the Commonwealth

Obverse: Facing busts of incoming Philippine President Manuel Quezon and outgoing Governor-General Frank Murphy, "Commonwealth of the Philippines", "Fifty Centavos"
Reverse: arms of the Philippine-American Commonwealth, "United States of America", year mark (1936)

Material: silver
Shape: round
Mintage: 20,000

This coin is one of three that commemorate the transition from protectorate to commonwealth which occured on November 15, 1935.

A Theory on the Origin of the Peso Sign

Where did the peso sign originate? What is its history? Below is my hypothesis on how the two horizontal lines found their way into the P.

The Philippine peso was established on May 1, 1852, when the Banco Español-Filipino de Isabel (now the Bank of the Philippine Islands) introduced notes denominated in pesos fuertes. Pesos fuertes meant strong pesos and was written as PF.

The peso fuerte eventually replaced the Spanish real at a rate of 8 reales = 1 peso. Until 1886, the PF circulated alongside Mexican coins, some still denominated in reales and escudos (worth 2 pesos). The Mexican coins were eventually phased out by Philippine colonial authorities in 1886.

Soon enough, the peso fuerte became known simply as peso. Similarly, writing the two letters P and F became cumbersome which prompted people to join them into a single symbol which eventually evolved into the Philippine Peso sign that we know today - a P crossed by two horizontal lines.

Makes sense right? Now, due to the lack of font support, the symbol is often substituted with a simple P, a P with one horizontal line instead of two, PHP, or PhP.

The Evolution of Philippine Currency

History of Philippine Money

Philippine money–multi-colored threads woven into the fabric of our social, political and economic life. From its early bead-like form to the paper notes and coins that we know today, our money has been a constant reminder of our journey through centuries as a people relating with one another and with other peoples of the world.

Pre-Hispanic Era
Trade among the early Filipinos and with traders from the neighboring islands was conducted through barter. The inconvenience of barter later led to the use of some objects as medium of exchange. Gold, which was plentiful in many parts of the islands, invariably found its way into these objects that included the piloncitos, small bead-likeb gold bits considered by the local numismatists as the earliest coin of the ancient Filipinos, and gold barter rings.

Spanish Era (1521-1897)
Three hundred years of Spanish rule left many indelible imprints on Philippine numismatics. At the end of the Spanish regime, Philippine money was a multiplicity of currencies that included Mexican pesos, Alfonsino pesos and copper coins of other currencies.

The cobs or macuquinas of colonial mints were the earliest coins brought in by the galleons from Mexico and other Spanish colonies. The silver dos mundos or pillar dollar is considered one of the world’s most beautiful coins. The barilla, a crude bronze or copper coin worth about one centavo, was the first coin struck in the country.

Coins from other Spanish colonies also reached the Philippines and were counterstamped. Gold coins with the portrait of Queen Isabela were minted in Manila. Silver pesos with the profile of young Alfonso XIII were the last coins minted in Spain. The pesos fuertes, issued by the country’s first bank, the El Banco Espanol Filipino de Isabel II, were the first paper money circulated in the country.

Revolutionary Period (1898-1899)
Asserting its independence, the Philippine Republic of 1898 under General Emilio Aguinaldo issued its own coins and paper currency backed by the country’s natural resources.

One peso and five peso notes printed as Republika Filipina Papel Moneda de Un Peso and Cinco Pesos were freely circulated. 2 centimos de peso copper were also issued in 1899.

The American Period (1900-1941)
The Americans instituted a monetary system for the Philippine based on gold and pegged the Philippine peso to the American dollar at the ratio of 2:1. The US Congress approved the Coinage Act for the Philippines in 1903.

The coins issued under the system bore the designs of Filipino engraver and artist, Melecio Figueroa. Coins in denomination of one-half centavo to one peso were minted. The renaming of El Banco Espanol Filipino to Bank of the Philippine Islands in 1912 paved the way for the use of English from Spanish in all notes and coins issued up to 1933. Beginning May 1918, treasury certificates replaced the silver certificates series, and a one-peso note was added.

The Japanese Occupation (

The outbreak of World War II caused serious disturbances in the Philippine monetary system. Two kinds of notes circulated in the country during this period. The Japanese Occupation Forces issued war notes in big denominations. Provinces and municipalities, on the other hand, issued their own guerrilla notes or resistance currencies, most of which were sanctioned by the Philippine government in-exile, and partially redeemed after the war.

The Philippine Republic

A nation in command of its destiny is the message reflected in the evolution of Philippine money under the Philippine Republic. Having gained independence from the United States following the end of World War II, the country used as currency old treasury certificates overprinted with the word “Victory”.

With the establishment of the Central Bank of the Philippines in 1949, the first currencies issued were the English series notes printed by the Thomas de la Rue & Co., Ltd. in England and the coins minted at the US Bureau of Mint. The Filipinazation of the Republic coins and paper money began in the late 60’s and is carried through to the present. In the 70’s, the Ang Bagong Lipunan (ABL) series notes were circulated, which were printed at the Security Printing Plant starting 1978. A new wave of change swept through the Philippine coinage system with the flora and fauna coins initially issued in 1983. These series featured national heroes and species of flora and fauna. The new design series of banknotes issued in 1985 replaced the ABL series. Ten years later, a new set of coins and notes were issued carrying the logo of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

*The above information is quoted from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas website