Philippine Peso Coins and Banknotes

Philippine Coins and Banknotes

New generation banknotes to be released next year

[Update: New Generation Philippine Banknotes released]

Screen grabs from GMA-7 news report shoowing 1000 peso bill designs with jeepney and tarsier. I don't know if these are some of the proposed designs or simply displays at the Money Museum.

GMA-7 news reported on the plan of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to redesign all Philippine banknotes last November 10.

In an interview, Mr. Diwa Guinigundo, Deputy Governor of BSP, revealed they plan to release the redesigned notes by the last quarter of 2010. A redesigned set of coins will be released thereafter.

The overhaul of the Philippine peso bills was initiated since the design of Philippine money has been practically the same for over 20 years now. The plan is also seen as a measure to stay ahead of counterfeiters. The National Historical Institute (NHI) has no objections.

While the planned designs are not final yet, the Monetary Board is considering the following options:
  • former presidents (Cory Aquino?)
  • people who have given prestige to the Philippines (Manny Pacquiao? LOL)
  • endemic animals (Tarsier?)
  • historic and beautiful places (Tubattaha Reef, Subterranean River?)
Let's discuss each of these in detail sometime.

Redesigned Philippine Banknotes

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is currently in the process of redesigning all Philippine banknotes which have hardly changed over the past two decades. However, a 21-year old designer from Pennsylvania went ahead of BSP and created interesting new Philippine Peso banknote designs which serves well as an appetizer for the real ones to come. I think this serves well also as a challenge for the Philippine central bank to be very creative in making radically new money.

In his blog, Ryan Riegner echoes my appreciation for banknote design. He also explains why he chose to play around with redesigning the Philippine peso.

Paper currency, regardless of it’s technical beauty, elegant craftsmanship and saturation into everyday life, it is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of remarkable design… so I chose to redesign some. I decided to go with the Philippine peso, as I will be traveling to Australia and Southeast Asia this winter. I chose to focus primarily on applying governmental requirements, specific imagery, color, and form relative to the Philippines that showcased both internal and external associations with this island nation, and I am more than pleased with the result. I plan to distribute them to locals, possibly as trade if and when I arrive.
P100 bill features Melchora Aquino

P500 bill features Marcelo H. del Pilar

P2000 bill features Lapu-lapu (I think)

Ryan's three designs (100, 500, 2000 denominations) have the look of polymer notes which the BSP is also considering. However, there are some glitches in the spelling such as "Republica" instead of "Republika." The 100-peso notes are also wrongly indicated as "sandaang libong piso" (100,000) instead of "sandaang piso" while the 50-peso notes are "limang piso" (5) where they should be "limandaang piso." Nevertheless the relatively 'simple' designs are very interesting.

We do hope the BSP will open the redesigning of Philippine currency to all Filipinos in some sort of art contest. How about you? How do you want Philippine money to look like?

5 Centavo Error Coin - Ang Bagong Lipunan

Five Centavo Error Coin (Off-center)
Bagong Lipunan Series (1976)
photo courtesy from laneb1961 of ebay

This is what happens when the coin planchet is not properly aligned when struck with the die. Off-centers are relatively common errors. See the correctly minted 5 centavo coin.

20 Centavo Coin - Culion Leper Colony

Twenty Centavo Coin (1922)
Culion Leper Colony
photo from alvino888 of eBay

Reverseo: Caduceus, "Philippine Health Service", year mark (1922) flanked by two stars
Obverse: "20 Centavos", "Culion Leper Colony", "Philippine Islands"

Shape: Round
Material: Copper-Nickel

20 Centavo Bill - Culion Leper Colony

20 Centavo Banknote
Culion Leper Colony (1942)
photo courtesy of y_u_bolabola_me of eBay

Obverse: This certifies that the Philippines Commonwealth Bureau of Health Culion Leper Colony is obligated to pay the bearer twenty centavos in legal tender currency.
Reverse: Issued by authority of the President of the Philippines. Transmitted 2/9/42 through the Commanding General, USAFFE, Iloilo

20 Peso Bill - PNB Circulating Note (1937)

20 Pesos Banknote
Philippine National Bank Circulating Note (series of 1937)
photo courtesy of lumang.gamit of eBay

Obverse: William A. Jones and seal of the Philippine National Bank
Seal of the Philippine National Bank

Obverse: The Philippine National Bank will pay the bearer on demand twenty pesos in lawful money of the Philippines. Issue authorized March 24, 1937 under the provisions of act numbered 2612 of the Philippine Legislature as amended.

How about a 1986 peso bill?

This 27" x 11" artwork was drawn entirely by hand by DLS-CSB alumnus Teddy Pavon to commemorate the lives of both Cory and Ninoy.

BSP to redesign all Philippine banknotes and coins

[UPDATE: New Generation Philippine Banknote Series Released!]

Wonderful news for all numismatists! The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has hinted that they will be redesigning all Philippine banknotes over the next two years and eventually redesign all the coins also. News is that BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. supports the inclusion of late former president Corazon "Cory" Aquino in what will be the redesigned P500 bill. (So with the BSP governor's support, what will stop them?) It is not clear, however, if Cory will be together with Ninoy or they will find themselves on separate bills.

The "new-generation currency notes," which will have totally new looks. will be released one at a time in a span of about two years starting next year. (That will sure be an exciting 2 years for banknote collectors and the rest of the Filipinos!) The BSP has already started the redesigning process to come up with the new banknotes that will have better security features to further deter counterfeiting. They are also considering the use of polymer (plastic) notes such as the ones used in Australia but they are still considering the pros and cons. The BSP also wants to continue supporting the local abaca industry. (Current notes are 20% abaca, 80% cotton.

The current set of Philippine banknotes was first issued in 1985 starting with the 5 peso bill. They were slightly redesigned in 1993 (new BSP logo) and 2001 (year-mark and new security features).

It is also possible that the BSP will be issuing new denominations although I cannot imagine what denomination it would be. A P2000 or P5000 bill?

According to BSP Deputy Governor Amando Suratos, they will eventually redesign the coins also. The current design of Philippine coins was first released in 1995.


Cory & Ninoy Aquino on 500 Peso Bill?

Why not? They fought for a common cause and gained the respect of Filipinos worldwide. Now, they deserve to be together. Besides, all former Philippine Presidents who passed away (except Marcos and Laurel) have appeared on circulation banknotes. Even current president Arroyo is already in the P200 bill. Above is the artwork by Peace love and revolution placing side by side, Corazon "Cory" Aquino and Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. I think this is something that is not far from happening. I just think that since Cory is smiling, Ninoy should also smile like this.

FYI: Cory is already honored in the Philippines' largest denominated coin - the 1992 P10,000 coin - but how many can actually have that or even know it exists?

I was planning to make something like this before Cory will be buried today but when I searched the net, someone already thought of it. And since "Revolution" did such a good job in duplicating the texture and fonts (click on image to enlarge), this one is very much worth our attention.

Watch out for the new overprint - 60 Years of Central Banking

Last July 9, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) started issuing 12 million banknotes with an overprint commemorating 60 years of central banking. The overprint is on all six circulation bank notes: 20-piso, 50-piso; 100-piso; 200-piso; 500-piso; and 1,000-piso.

The BSP explains, "Central banking is a function directly linked with the development of our economy and our nation. It is appropriate therefore that we commemorate this milestone. Central banking started in 1949 when the Central Bank of the Philippines (CBP) started operations following the passage of Republic Act 265. The CBP ended when Republic Act 7653 or The New Central Bank Act gave birth to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in 1993." source

After the frenzy over the P100 bills with the UP Centennial overprint, more Filipinos have become aware of the value of banknote overprints to collectors.

Note that 10 million copies of the 100-peso bill with the UP centennial overprint were released and people are still selling them today several times their face value. This time, 12 million banknotes with the 60 years of central banking overprint will be issued, distributed among the six circulation notes (P20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000.) That means, only 2 million overprinted notes will be issued for each kind of bill. That's still quite a lot but if everybody hoards these overprinted bills, we might not see too many in circulation.

Get your own overprinted notes now!

100 Peso Bill Concept Design

This is the art work of the 100 peso bill that was presented to the members of the monetary board of the Central Bank of the Philippines back in 1968. The banknote was issued in 1969 and first printed by the Thomas' De La Rue and Co. LTD. of England.

I saw this on display at the Panublion Museum in Roxas City, Capiz. It gives us an idea of how banknotes are designed before they are finalized for actual printing.

Half-Centavo Coin - Culion Leper Colony

1/2 Centavo Coin (1913)
Culion Leper Colony
photo from coinden of eBay

Obverse: Caduceus, Bureau of Health, year mark (1913) flanked by two stars
Reverse: "1/2 Centavo", "Culion Leper Colony", "Philippine Islands"

Composition: aluminum

Note on metal composition: This coin belongs to the first batch issued by the American Period in 1913. This batch and another in 1920 were made of aluminum which was later found to be corrosive to antisepctics used in the sanitarium. Later issues in 1922, 1925, 1927, and 1930 were made of nickel.

Note on Caduceus: The caduceus is typically depicted as a short herald's staff entwined by two serpents in the form of a double helix, and sometimes is surmounted by wings. The caduceus is sometimes used as a symbol for medicine, especially in North America.

10000 Peso Commemorative Gold Coin

Ten Thousand Peso Commemorative Gold Coin (1992)
6th Anniversary - Restoration of Democracy

Obverse: President Corazon C. Aquino; Republic of the Philippines, 10000 Pesos
Reverse: Philippine map superimposed on Constitution and dove of peace flying towards the light; Democracy Restored; VI Anniversary; 1986, 1992

Shape: round
Edge: reeded
Material: gold

This is the largest coin denomination ever issued in the Philippines. I am still looking for more information on this very rare coin.

10 Peso Bill - American Series (1941)

1941 Ten Pesos Banknote
American Period Treasury Certificate (series of 1941)
photo courtesy of talontracker of eBay

Obverse: George Washington and seal of the Philippine-American Commonwealth

Treasury Certificate. By authority of an act of the Philippine Legislature; Approved by the President of the United States June 13, 1922. This certifies that there have been deposited in the treasury of the Philippines; Ten Pesos; payable to the bearer on demand; in silver pesos or in legal tender currency of the United States of Equivalent Value.

This banknote is in very good uncirculated condition.

The Central Bank Seal

photo courtesy of Torres Batch65

The original seal of the Central Bank of the Philippines was designed by Dan Zamora of Crispulo Zamora and Sons based on the suggestions of Governor Miguel Cuaderno, Sr.

The following is the symbolism of the logo according to Rufo Buenviaje of the Department of Economic Research:

The seal of the Central Bank of the Philippines shows a man in the foreground, symbolizing the Filipino Nation pushing the Wheel of Progress. The background shows the rays of the rising sun symbolizing the Dawn of Prosperity and revealing the country's traditional agricultural products as the basic ingredients for industrial production and commerce. The arms proper is a circle, symbolizing perpetuity, and around it the text CENTRAL BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES to suggest that the bank provides the necessary fiscal, commercial, and monetary policies.

During the term of Gov. Gregorio S. Licaros, the seal was simplified to a graphic illustration based on the same design.
(From 50 years of Central Banking in the Philippines - Coffee Table Book,1999)

1000 Peso Gold Coin - Ang Bagong Lipunan Commemorative

One Thousand Piso Commemorative Gold Coin (1975)
Ang Bagong Lipunan 3rd Anniversary
image courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries

Obverse: Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos; Ang Bagong Lipunan; Setyembere 21, 1972; year mark (1975)
Reverse: Seal of the Republic of the Philippines;1000 Piso; Republika ng Pilipinas

Shape: round
Edge: milled

Diameter: 27 mm
Weight: 9.95 grams
.900 fine gold


This gold coin was minted to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the Bagong Lipunan (New Society) which was established September 21, 1972.

World's Largest Banknote - 100,000 Peso Bill

One Hundred Thousand Piso Commemorative Banknote
photo from Torres Batch65

Obverse: Cry of Pugadlawin, Philippine Centennial Commission Logo, BSP Logo
Reverse: Declaration of Independence

Pieces Issued:

This banknote was issued during the Centennial of Philippine Independence in 1998. It is as large as a legal-sized bond paper. Produced in Germany, the banknote has 21 security features including a hologram, making it very hard to counterfeit. On release, this collector's item was sold at P180,000. Today, it is worth many times more. It is recognized by the Guiness Book of world Records as the world's largest legal tender banknote.


Obverse: "Ang Sigaw ng Himagsikan", "Ang salaping papel na ito ay bayarin ng Bangko Sentral at pananagutan ng Republika ng Pilipinas", "Isandaang Libong Piso", "Republika ng Pilipinas"
Reverse: "Pagpapahayag ng Kasarinlang ng Pilipinas Noong Hunyo 12, 1898", "Isandaang Libong Piso", "Republika ng Pilipinas"

Detect Fake 500 Peso Bills

At a glance, can you tell if the five-hundred peso banknote above is a fake? You can click the picture to see a larger view.

There are many different ways to produce fake banknotes. Basic methods such as printing scanned images of authentic notes will produce counterfeits that are relatively easy to spot. Some groups, however, take counterfeiting seriously and produce copies that increasingly mimic the original.

I recently got to borrow this counterfeit 500 peso bill. Upon inspection, I can guess that this particular fake was created with some serious investment in equipment and technique. I would say this is a ‘professionally made’ counterfeit and probably represents one of the most sophisticated fakes in the Philippines.

Nevertheless, these fakes are still no match against the original. Let’s look at the different parts of this counterfeit money:

1. It might not be immediately noticed but this banknote has no serial numbers! However, other counterfeits made from scanned notes would usually have serial numbers. Most of the time, counterfeits made in one run would have identical serial numbers.
2. The iridescent vertical gold band on genuine notes only looks like a darkened area on the fake banknote. It does not glitter under the light.
3. You don’t need to look very closely to notice the dirty appearance on Benigno Aquino’s face. Because fake banknotes have coarse details, the eyes are dark and don’t look ‘alive’ as they do in genuine notes.
4. The interwoven metallic strip is instead printed and does not shine under the light. The little numbers repeated along the thread are missing.
5. Genuine notes have a rough texture on most printed parts because of the raised prints. Surprisingly, this fake banknote also has a rough texture on some portions although not as pronounced as in genuine notes. On the other hand, the brown pattern on the upper-left hand corner is totally smooth while this is noticeably rough on genuine notes.
6. In several portions of the banknote, misaligned patterns appear, usually where two colors meet.7. The microprints are unexpectedly readable but are coarsely printed.
8. The concealed number does not show when you tilt the banknote towards you at an angle. This might be because the print is not raised like in genuine banknotes.
9. Surprisingly, this fake banknote has a watermark when held against the light. Watermarks therefore are no longer good indicators of genuine notes.
10. There is no embedded metallic strip but a dark line appears where it should be when the banknote is held against the light. It appears to have been created using the same technique used to produce the watermark. On the other hand, the metallic strip on genuine notes is darker and can be felt when pinched.

Finally, the fake bill does not smell like money. It smells like old paper. However, if it circulates for a while along with genuine notes, it might also take on the smell of real money.

If you happen to encounter a banknote that you suspect to be counterfeit, report it to the authorities! These ones are not for collecting because mere possession of them is illegal.