Read First:
BSP | The New Generation Philippine Banknotes
KAAKBAY | Another look at the New Philippine Banknotes
The POC | BSP defends ‘errors’ on new peso bills

I’m proud of our new Philippine currency despite the criticisms, which can be easily corrected in the next print run.  It is about time that we launch the new Peso bills, which symbolize new hope and a stronger economy in 2011 and beyond.

I’m proud of it because…

1. They showcase our UNESCO World Heritage Sites, natural sites, our local fauna and intricate weaving designs. We can use it as a “marketing material” to promote the sites that you can find only in the Philippines!

BSP Official Description: (taken from the official BSP Media release)

“The Banaue Rice Terraces in Northern Philippines were carved out of the mountains of the Cordilleras around 2,000 years ago by our ancestors using simple tools. Breathtaking for its high altitude, steep slopes and area covered, the Banaue Rice Terraces showcases a mastery of engineering that is appreciated to the present. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.”

“The palm civets in the Cordilleras are famous for producing one of the best and most expensive coffee varieties in the world – Coffee Alamid. The coffee beans that they eat, partially digest and release as droppings are prized for their flavor and aroma.”

“On the right is a weave design from the Cordilleras.”

Criticisms (as summarized by Alain Del B. Pascua – KAAKBAY President)

  •  The Philippine map excludes Batanes (the map only includes the Babuyan Islands)
  •  The scientific names defy the standard format (scientific names should be italicized)

BSP Official Description: (taken from the official BSP Media release)

“The Taal Lake in Batangas is the deepest freshwater lake in the Philippines. It is also host to active Taal Volcano, the world’s smallest volcano.”

“The Giant Trevally, locally known as Maliputo, a delicious milky fish, thrives only in the waters of the lake. Taal Lake is also the only home for tawilis, the world’s only freshwater sardine.”

“On the right is a design highlight from an embroidery handcrafted in Batangas province.”

Criticisms (as summarized by Alain Del B.Pascua – KAAKBAY President)

  •  The Philippine map excludes Batanes (the map only includes the Babuyan Islands)
  •  The scientific names defy the standard format (scientific names should be italicized)

BSP Official Description: (taken from the official BSP Media release)

“The Bicol region is famous for majestic Mayon Volcano, the country’s most active, which has a near perfect cone. It is in Legazpi City, Albay.”

“The ‘butanding’ or whale shark, the world’s largest living fish, is the main attraction in Donsol, Sorsogon. These gentle giants regularly visit the waters of Sorsogon to mate and to feed on plankton abundant in Donsol River.”

“On the right is a detail from a design for an indigenous textile crafted in the Bicol region.”

Criticisms (as summarized by Alain Del B.Pascua – KAAKBAY President)

  •  The Philippine map excludes Batanes (the map only includes the Babuyan Islands)
  •  The scientific names defy the standard format (scientific names should be italicized)

BSP Official Description: (taken from the official BSP Media release)

“The famous Chocolate Hills of Bohol are verdant green mounds during the rainy season that turn to chocolate brown at the end of the dry season. Numbering about 1,268 hills, they rise to 30 to 50 meters.”

“The Philippine tarsier is described as one of the world’s smallest primates; it can fit comfortably in one’s hands. It can be found in Bohol and in Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.”

“On the right side is a highlight from a design handcrafted in the Visayas in Central Philippines.”

Criticisms (as summarized by Alain Del B.Pascua – KAAKBAY President)

  •  The Philippine map excludes Batanes (the map only includes the Babuyan Islands)
  •  The scientific names defy the standard format (scientific names should be italicized)

BSP Official Description: (taken from the official BSP Media release)

“The eight-kilometer Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan winds through a cave that has major formations of stalactites and stalagmites that fascinate and mesmerize. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the place has a full mountain-to-the-sea ecosystem that is also home to rare animals such as the Philippine cockatoo and the Palawan mouse deer.”

“The rare Blue-naped Parrot thrives in the lush forests of Palawan and Mindoro. Parrots are known to be friendly, gentle, and intelligent.”

“On the right is a design highlight from a woven cloth from Southern Philippines.”

Criticisms (as summarized by Alain Del B.Pascua – KAAKBAY President)

  •  The Philippine map excludes Batanes (the map only includes the Babuyan Islands)
  •  St. Paul’s Subterranean or Underground River is also mislocated (the location should be near the sea, not inland)
  •  The Blue-Naped Parrot is miscolored (beak should be red not yellow, and tail should be yellow, not green)
  • In the P500 bill, why feature the Blue-Naped Parrot when it is more majestic to highlight the endangered Palawan endemics like the Palawan Peasant-Peacock, Palawan Hornbill or the Philippine Cockatoo?
  •  The scientific names defy the standard format (scientific names should be italicized)

BSP Official Description: (taken from the official BSP Media release)

“The 130,000 hectare Tubbataha Reef Marine Park in Sulu Sea is one of the Philippines’ oldest ecosystems. It is home to a great diversity of marine life: whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles are among the key species found here. The reef ecosystems support over 350 species of coral and almost 500 species of fish. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it plays a key role in the reproduction, dispersal and colonization by marine organisms in the whole Sulu Sea System and in helping support fisheries outside its boundaries. It is a natural laboratory for studying ecological and biological processes, displaying process of coral reef formation, and supporting marine species dependent on reef ecosystems. The presence of tiger and hammerhead sharks, which are top predator species indicates the ecological balance of the property.”

“Sulu sea is part of the South Seas, which are the natural habitat of oysters that produce the largest pearls grown in the world – the Pinctada maxima. The colors of these treasures from the sea range from white to silver and golden.”

“On the right side is the highlight of design for Tinalak or Ikat-dyed abaca, which is woven in Mindanao in Southern Philippines.”

Criticisms (as summarized by Alain Del B.Pascua – KAAKBAY President)

  • The Philippine map excludes Batanes (the map only includes the Babuyan Islands)
  • Tubbataha Reefs is mislocated hundreds of miles away (the location alluded to is the Bulis Suan and Cagayan Sulu Islands)
  • The scientific names defy the standard format (scientific names should be italicized)


    In contrast, here are the old designs that mostly feature buildings and historical events. I actually like the Banaue Rice Terraces design in the 1,000 peso bill; I’m glad they retained it in one of the new bills.

    Overall, I love the new bills because they showcase the Natural Wonders of the Philippines!

    We can argue that it should have featured Batanes (similar landscape with Ireland), Vigan (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but man-made) or even Boracay (although there are other white sand beaches out there), but we have only 6 bills to work with. And if I were to choose, I would have chosen exactly the same sites because they are natural wonders unique to our country.

    2. Without a doubt, the new bills symbolize new hope for the future — a new beginning and energized youth. Our leaders and heroes are portrayed in their prime — definitely an appeal to the next generation of leaders.

    (Note: The descriptions below are taken from the official BSP Media release)

    President Manuel L. Quezon (19 August 1878 – 1 August 1944)

    “Popularly known as the ‘Father of the National Language,’ Manuel L. Quezon is the second president of the Philippines and the first to be elected through a national election. He worked tirelessly to gain recognition for the Philippines as an independent nation. During his term, a national language for the Philippines was adopted and our women were given the right to vote. Quezon is the first Filipino president to hold office in Malacañan Palace by the Pasig River in Manila.”

    Design Highlights:

    • Filipino as the National Language 1935
    • Malacañan Palace
    • Seal of the President and the New BSP Seal

    Coat-of-Arms Criticisms (as summarized by Alain Del B.Pascua – KAAKBAY President)

    “The same observation can be said on the Coat-of-Arms of the Republic of the Philippines, which the BSP erroneously referred to as ‘Seal of the President’ in all its descriptions of the new banknotes. Why is the Bald Eagle of the United States of America and the Lion-Rampant of Spain (the Charge of the Kingdom of Leon) included in the depiction of the Coat of Arms of the Republic of the Philippines when these symbols and representation of colonial history are no longer mentioned in the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines?”

    Sergio Osmeña (9 September 1878 – 19 October 1961)

    “Sergio Osmeña is the President who led our country during the critical stage nearing the end of World War II and in our transition as an independent nation. He was vice president when President Manuel Quezon passed away and was with the liberation forces led by US General Douglas McArthur in 1944, an event immortalized at a landmark monument known as ‘the Leyte Landing’ at Palo beach in central Philippines. It was during his term when the Philippines joined the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank).”

    Design Highlights:

    • First National Assembly 1907
    • Leyte Landing
    • Seal of the President and the New BSP Seal

    Leyte Landing Criticism (as summarized by Alain Del B.Pascua – KAAKBAY President)

    “In the case of the P50 bill, why feature the Leyte Landing and the so-called ‘American Liberation of the Philippines,’ when what should be highlighted is the victory and gallantry of the Filipino guerrillas against the Japanese invaders sans the Americans, who, led by General Douglas McArthur, left the country and departed to Australia when the Japanese forces held the upper hand in war. It was the Filipino guerrilla who fought it out against the Japanese forces inch by inch until such time as the Japanese stragglers were already in the mountains and away from populated areas even before the so-called ‘Liberation of the Philippines by the Americans.'”

    Manuel A. Roxas (1 January 1982 – 15 April 1948)

    “President Manual A. Roxas took his oath of office on 4 July 1946 as the first president of the Third Philippine Republic, when the United States recognized the independence of the Republic of the Philippines. Having inherited a nation in ruins from World War II, he set in motion the crafting of the first Master Economic Plan, the first known in developing Asia, which started the country on the road to reconstruction and development. He thus earned the title ‘Nation Builder.’ A Philippine Bar topnotcher, he had a lifelong career as public servant. He was 27 when he became Governor of Capiz, the country’s youngest, and was Speaker of the House for 12 consecutive years. One of his priorities was the drafting of a charter for a central bank, which he deemed as a step towards sovereignty. However, he did not complete his term due to a fatal heart attack. Shortly after his death, his successor President Elpidio Quirino signed Republic Act 265 or The Central Bank Act in June 1948. On 3 January 1949, the Central Bank of the Philippines opened for business.”

    Design Highlights:

    • Central Bank of the Philippines 1949
    • Inauguration of the Third Republic 4 July 1946
    • Seal of the President and the New BSP Seal

    Diosdado P. Macapagal (28 September 1910 – 21 April 1997)

    “President Diosdado P. Macapagal is known for his land reform and socio-economic agenda that started the process of economic liberalization and the shift to a market economy in the Philippines. He moved the celebration of Philippine independence from 4 July 1946 to 12 June 1898 when General Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence from Spanish colonial rule and, in the process, made our country Asia’s first republic. The inauguration of the First Philippine Republic was held at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan. Aguinaldo’s home in Cavite is now called the Independence House. President Diosdado Macapagal is the father of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who assumed office as a result of the EDSA People Power II in January 2001.”

    Design Highlights:

    • Independence House
    • Barasoain Church
    • EDSA People Power II January 2001
    • Seal of the President and the New BSP Seal

    Icons of Democracy
    President Corazon C. Aquino (25 January 1933 – 1 August 2009)
    Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. (27 November 1932 – 21 August 1983)

    “Corazon C. Aquino, the 11th President of the Philippines, is our first woman head of state. She assumed office following the history and non-violent People Power Revolution that toppled a dictatorship. Her major accomplishments were the restoration of democracy and the crafting of a new Constitution that limited presidential powers, established a bicameral legislature, and gave strong emphasis to civil liberties and human rights. She was married to former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.”

    “Senator Aquino stood against President Ferdinand Marcos who had declared martial law. His seven-year imprisonment under the dictatorship and assassination upon his return from exile galvanized our people to unite and oppose the dictatorship. This culminated in the peaceful People Power Revolution. The bronze memorial in his honor in Makati City is a popular venue for holding mass movements.”

    “The funeral processions of both President Corazon Aquino and Senator Benigno Aquino were an outpouring of national grief. Millions of Filipinos stayed on the road for hours to pay their respects and to express their deep gratitude to the couple who dedicated their lives for the country and our people. On 30 June 2010, their only son Benigno S. Aquino III became the country’s 15th president.”

    Design Highlights:

    • EDSA People Power I | February 1986
    • Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Monument
    • Seal of the President and the New BSP Seal

    War Heroes
    Josefa Llanes Escoda (20 September 1898 – January 1945)
    Vicente P. Lim (24 February 1888 – 31 December 1944)
    Jose Abad Santos (19 February 1886 – 2 May 1942)

    “Josefa Llanes Escoda – social worker, educator, advocate of women’s right to vote, founder of the Girl Scouts of the Phiilppines and newspaper editor – showed extraordinary courage by continuing to help prisoners of war during the Japanese occupation. For this, she and her husband Antonio were killed before the end of the war.”

    “Brigadier General Vicente P. Lim was the first Filipino West Point graduate and rose to the rank of Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army. Initially wounded in action, he directed guerilla activities from his hospital bed during World War II. He was eventually captured and died in the hands of the Japanese. For his military service, he received the Legion of Merit and the Purple Heart.”

    “War hero Jose Abad Santos was the Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court. He completed his Bachelor of Laws degree in Northwestern University and Masters of Laws from Georgetown University as a scholar. He was executed for refusing to cooperate with the Japanese forces. Informed of his impending execution, he told his son who had been captured with him: ‘It is a rare opportunity to die for one’s country.'”

    Design Highlights:

    • Centennial of Philippine Independence 1998
    • Medal of Honor
    • Seal of the President and the New BSP Seal


    I love how our presidents and heroes are portrayed as younger versions of themselves in the new generation of Philippine bills. They deserved to be honored, and it was just right not to replace them.

    Maybe if we have a 2,000 peso bill, BSP can do an online poll on who Filipinos think should be honored in that bill.

    3. BSP incorporated Enhanced Counterfeit features!

    LEGEND (Note: The information below is taken from the official BSP Media release)

    Raised prints that feel rough to the touch, i.e. the words REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS and DALAWAMPUNG PISO, portrait, signatures, value panels on the face of the note.

    Composed of 1 or 2 prefix letters and 6 or 7 asymmetric (increasing in size) digits located at the lower left and upper right corners of the face of the note.

    Red and blue visible fibers embedded on the paper at random and glow in two colors under the ultraviolet light.

    A shadow image of the portrait and the number 20 seen at the blank space of the note when viewed against the light from either side of the note.

    The word “PILIPINO” written in Baybayin (pre-Spanish Philippine writing sytem) is seen in complete form when the note is viewed against the light.

    The denominational value which is superimposed on the smaller version portrait at the upper left side of the note. The value becomes obvious when the note is rotated 45 degrees and tilted down.

    An embedded thread running vertically across the note which is visible from either side of the note when viewed against the light.

    Here is a photo of a real P1,000 bill versus two fake P1,000 bills:

    “In (the) photo, you will see three 1,000’s. The first one on top is a real one and the second and third below are the fake 1,000 bills my staff had received this morning. According to our staff Jenny, she would remember the face of the lady who paid her two times. (She was) the only client (who) bought our chicken, 1 pack of chicken legs 280g., amounting to P168, by just pointing and saying, ‘Give me one of that’ before asking how much, then just paid P1,000. After about an hour, she (came) back and bought another pack of chicken wings (lollipop) 370g., amounting to P166 and paid again P1,000…. We do not usually look at the money if it’s real or fake…” – supplier account on the fake bills

    You have to be careful about counterfeit bills, especially the P1,000 bills this holiday season. With the new generation of Philippine Bills, it would probably deter the proliferation of the fake ones as it is very hard and expensive to counterfeit.

    4.  A Rare Family “Portrait” for the Icons of Democracy!

    It is indeed quite rare to have the parents’ photos with their son’s presidential signature in one bill.

    President Noynoy Aquino joked that “kulang na lang si Kris Aquino in the photo”. Well, she already announced her desire to run as Tarlac Governor in 2016 (and probably the presidency after that). Who knows, Kris might be signing the P500 bill in 2022?

    5. “Pinagpala ang Bayan na ang Diyos ay ang Panginoon”!

    In all the new generation Philippine currency, there is a subtext under the REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS, which was not mentioned and a bit underplayed. I’m proud that our leaders had the guts to put this in our bill to proclaim the glory of God, which says a lot about the Filipino people.

    “Pinagpala ang Bayan na ang Diyos ay ang Panginoon”!

    The new bills are indeed very timely for the 150th year anniversary of the Republic and 25th year anniversary of People Power this coming 2011. The criticisms can easily be corrected and BSP gave the background on why  the “errors” happened.

    Overall, I love the new bills and I’m proud of them. 🙂 We have 3 years to phase out the old pesos, but I can’t wait to replace all of my pesos with the New Generation Philippine Currency!

    However, I would like to appeal to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to correct all the  space limitation errors, the coat of arms design and print color errors in the next batch of the bills.

    Live an Awesome Life,

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    Full Disclosure: I’m not related to or connected with anyone from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. I attended the launching in Malacañan Palace as a guest of a friend who designed the P20 bill.

    P.S. They are redesigning the entire line of Philippine coins. I think they would retain the current heroes (P1 – Jose Rizal, P5 – Emilio Aguinaldo, and P10 – Apolinario Mabini & Andres Bonifacio) but change the design highlights at the back.  Stringent measures should be followed with the redesign of the coins.

    Let me know your suggestions/reactions  in the comments section below.