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Typos, The P100,000 Bill, And 4 Other Interesting Facts About The Philippine Peso

Do you know anything about your hard-earned cash other than it being able to buy you stuff?
by KC Calpo | Oct 8, 2015
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Oh, money. We don't always have you, but when we do, we sure like to spend you on gadgets and other random stuff we don't quite need. We rarely think about how you're made, how you've changed since the early days of trading and know, your story, to use one of today's most overused nouns.

So we've done a bit of online sleuthing and found these interesting trivia about our beloved local currency, the Philippine peso. We're sure you can find more, so we suggest adding to your money knowledge—and forget about the guilt in spending, because they've come a long, long way, baby.

On second thought, try to take care of your finances better, mkay?

Anyway, read on!

1)   OUR "OLD MAN"

We as Filipinos have plenty to be proud of. But did you know that one of our major banks is also known as the first bank in the Philippines, the first and oldest bank in Southeast Asia, and the second Philippine bank established during the Spanish occupation?

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Yep, the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) was "born" on August 1, 1851, and with the original name of El Banco Español Filipino de Isabel II. This bank was named after Isabel II, the queen of Spain during this time in Philippine history. According to BPI's Corporate Information page, the bank was established "23 years after Ferdinand VII issued a decree to establish a public bank in the Philippines," and this was overseen by the then Spanish governor, Antonio de Urbiztondo.

Today, BPI is a major financial institution: the Philippine Star reported a few months ago that BPI and BPI Family Savings Bank are slated to open 40 new branches this year to push their nationwide total up to 871 branches. They also have a 7.1 million total retail clientele base. Whoa.

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BPI also states that the Philippine peso was pegged to the gold exchange standard only in 1903, during the American occupation. The currency went by different names, too: pesos fuertes during the Spanish era (meaning 'strong pesos'), and 'Philippine Currency' and 'Peso Conant' under the Americans, named after the journalist, promoter, and banking expert Charles Arthur Conant.


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Next time you get your hands on a P5 coin, check the mint date and search for a specific mark. Some P5 coins made from 1997 to 1998 weren't minted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)—instead, they were minted overseas by the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM). If you see a P5 coin from any year with a mint mark below first Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo's shoulder, that means the BSP made it. The 1997-1998 coins sans mint mark were made by the RCM and imported here.

We couldn't help but grab our thin(ning) wallet, and scrounge for P5 coins dated 1997-1998 just to see for ourselves.


We like the new Philippine peso bills, but sometimes we do miss the old ones. If you still have the old P500 bill (the New Design Series (NDS) or BSP series bill, with just the late Senator Ninoy Aquino on it), get it and look at the back. It's the only bill that has a camera on it—to be specific, the Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera, to commemorate his time as a Manila Times journalist. According to photography news and reviews site PetaPixel, the updated version with Ninoy and late former President Corazon C. Aquino doesn't have the said shooter on it.

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Note: The BSP says you can use the old NDS bills to pay for stuff only up to December 31, 2015. After that, you have another year to exchange it for the New Generation Currency (NGC) bills. By January 1, 2017, the NDS bills are demonitized (a.k.a. they won't have much value beyond being mere display items).

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Ask anyone who's ever traveled to Vietnam, and they will tell you that current exchange rates will make you feel filthy rich when you're spending the Vietnamese dong. There, it's common to have one bill with a 10,000 value or more. Case in point: right now, P50 is equivalent to around VND24,300. Damn!

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The Philippines did issue bills with similar uncommon denominations. There was a commemorative P2,000 bill issued by the BSP during former President Fidel V. Ramos' administration for the Philippine Centennial. Only 3,000 bills were made. Another P2,000 note was created with former President Joseph Estrada on it, and with a 5-million production number. But EDSA II happened, and these bills never became legal tender. They were stored in the BSP vaults, making their way out only in 2012 to interested collectors and buyers.

There was also a P100,000 bill made in 1998, also during the Ramos Administration, for the Centennial commemoration. At 8.5 x 14 inches, it's a Guinness World Record-holder for "largest legal banknote," A limited number (1,000) was printed in Giesecke Devrient in Munich, Germany.


Every time something is spelled incorrectly, we have a field day with it. The Philippine currency has had its share of similar scrutiny from the general public. Remember the P100 "Arrovo" bills? The old 50-cent coins also had a mistake on them: an eagle named Pitheco (p) haga jefferyi was called Pitheco (b) haga jefferyi instead.

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The aforementioned NGC bills also bear a few faux pas. Batanes was nixed from the Philippines map; there were issues with incorrect colors; and honored destinations like the Puerto Princesa Underground River and Tubbataha Reef were given the wrong locations. Dafuq, right?

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