Philippine Peso Coins and Banknotes

Philippine Coins and Banknotes

500 Peso Spoof - Ninoy Aquino Smiles!

Merry Christmas!
As we commemorate the day of Jesus' birth, would like to extend its wishes of joy to everyone.

Let us not spare Ninoy Aquino on the 500 peso banknote. His worried composure has no place in this time of rejoicing. Even the stars blink with joy!

(larger animated version)

Share the joy with your friends! Email this to them.

Fluorescent Marks - New Generation Currency

Fluorescent marks are the invisible phosphor dyes on banknotes that glow under UV or blacklight. Fluorescent prints are among the security features used in currency to deter counterfeiting (although counterfeiters are already able to imitate them). These are what cashiers look for when they hold down a banknote under a "counterfeit detector" which is actually a small black light.

These marks are not new, in fact we have previously written about fluorescent printing. However the New Generation Currency have interesting fluorescent marks that are worth another feature.

[photos and details removed per request of BSP]

Bonus trivia! Did you know Philippine passports conceal intricate and beautiful fluorescent marks, many of which are also found on Philippine Banknotes? Among them are Malacanang Palace, Mayon Volcano, Chocolate Hills, Barasoain Church, Sampaguita, and Sarao Jeepney.

Antibacterial Banknotes

It’s not hard to imagine just how dirty banknotes are. They are exchanged from one dirty hand to another, get dirty wet in markets, fall on dirty soil, and come in contact with other dirty money. We fold them, crease them, roll them, crumple them, even split them in half, thus wearing out their structure and providing more attachment surface for bacteria and fungi. No matter how dirty they become, we never throw them away nor even attempt to disinfect them with Lysol or alcohol. We just keep using them and they get dirtier and dirtier. It will not be surprising if someone can prove that banknotes are significant mediums for the spread of contagious diseases among people. Someone even said that banknotes should carry a government health warning.

It is good to know that the New Generation Currency of the Philippines is printed with Bioguard technology by Arjowiggins. Bioguard produces banknotes that are treated to prevent bacteria from multiplying. The anti-bacterial property has been tested to resist washing and will last throughout the lifetime of the banknote.

Here is a screenshot from their slideshow showing the difference between treated and untreated paper 24 hours after inoculation with E. coli bacteria.

How did they do this? They don’t say how, but most likely the banknote paper is treated with metallic ions which are known to have a wide range of antibacterial properties. Most notable among these ions is silver although copper, zinc, and other ions may also have been used. These ions inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi.

So now, could we rub our hands on our banknotes instead of washing before eating? Maybe not, unless you’re willing to hold the banknote and let your food wait for 24 hours. But still this is a welcome feature to keep our banknotes cleaner and safer for the public.

Trivia: How many soldiers on 50 peso bill?

While the fifty peso banknote from the New Design Series (NDS) is still in wide circulation, let's challenge ourselves to a little trivia:

How many soldiers can you spot on the obverse (front) of the 50 peso bill (NDS)?
(clue: there are more than 0 of them)

2010 BSP Statistics on Coins and Banknotes

In their 2010 Annual Report, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas gives us a glimpse on the volume of Philippine currency notes printed and coins minted during the past year.


870.05 million pieces printed
  • 213.85 million pieces with the signature of President Benigno Aquino III (launched 25 Nov 2010)
  • 10.0 million pieces of New Generation Banknotes (released 17 Dec 2010)

Currency retirement

  • 603.3 million pieces (worth P35.7 billion) notes retired through currency disintegrator

  • 443.0 million pieces (worth P204.5 billion) worn-out currency notes retired

2,956.8 million pieces (worth P746.7 billion) total banknotes in circulation as of 31 Dec 2010


582.02 million pieces minted

16,422.7 million pieces (worth P19.0 billion) total coins in circulation as of 31 Dec 2010

Looking at the figures of banknotes and coins in circulation, we can derive that if the population of the Philippines was around 94 million at the end of 2010 and all cash were distributed equally, each Filipino should have, P7,944 in banknotes and P202 in coins. Of course this does not include other forms of money such as bank deposits. Also, the average value of a banknote is P253 and coins are worth P1.16/piece on the average. Interesting!

How Philippine Banknotes are Printed

This is a very informative video from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that shows how our banknotes are printed. It also explains why with BSPs ability to print money, they don't just print more money.

video source

Thorough planning and deliberation starts the process of making money available to the public. First, the Bangko Sentral's Department of Economic Research determines currency demand based on the expected price movement as well as the growth of population and the economy.

After this, the Cash Department places the order with the Security Plant Complex which in turn procures the materials needed to produce and print the banknotes. When the designs of banknotes are changed, final approval by the President of the Republic is required.

From the approved design, a prototype banknote is prepared. The banknote image is then etched on a master dye from which printing plates are produced. Meanwhile, ink experts mix the exact colors of the money.

With the ink and plates ready, printing begins on special security paper that is composed of 80% cotton and 20% Philippine abaca. This combination gives it a distinctive texture that sets it apart from ordinary paper.

The sheets of banknote paper go through offset printing where 15 to 20 colors of the design are printed at a time. Next, the paper goes through the inaglio printing process which gives the money its embossed look and feel. Raised ink from intaglio printing requires drying for several days.

After this, the banknote sheets are submitted for a series of inspections. The serial numbers are then printed on each banknote which are again subjected to thorough inspection. The sheets are then cut and packed into bundles of 1,000 pieces each.

These are now delivered by the Security Plant to the Currency Management Group from where banks exchange or withdraw their currency requirements. From the banks, the banknotes finally find their way to the economy and our wallets.

Indonesian Island in New Philippine Banknotes

I just got hold of my very own New Generation Currency Banknotes. As author of this blog, it is a shame it took me this long to get my hands on them. However, as I had my chance to actually scrutinize them in much detail, I spotted a weird island on the map on the reverse side, south of Mindanao. I found from Google Earth that the island is actually a depiction of the northern portion of Pulau Karakelong of Indonesia! Now how can BSP miss Batanes and include an Indonesian Island? (Sorry BSP for pointing this out.)

The shape of the island on the banknote design is unmistakably that of Pulau Karakelong even if whoever traced the shape of the island actually included only the northern portion. Compare the enhanced inset in the illustration above to the one on the banknote.

The island appears on both the 20 and 50 peso bills which I actually have but I'm sure it also appears on the rest of the denominations.

Looking at the illustration above, the 50 peso bill especially, the banknote design could have been better (and politically correct) had the island been excluded. Now I'm wondering if the Bangko Sentral's reason for excluding Batanes was actually an excuse.