By Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye – From the beadlike form of pre-colonial Philippine money, to the early coins and notes of the Spanish period and the Philippine revolutionary government, the face of our country’s currency has evolved significantly through the years.
According to a history of Philippine money collated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the American period paved the way for an important development in this monetary evolution.
The Americans, according to the BSP, instituted a new monetary system for the Philippines based on gold and pegged the Philippine peso to the American dollar at the ratio of 2:1.
The US Congress, it can be recalled, had approved the Coinage Act for the Philippines in 1903.
The coins minted under the new system bore the designs of Filipino engraver and artist, Melecio Figueroa. One-half centavo to one-peso denominations were issued by the American regime.
The BSP noted that the renaming of El Banco Espanol Filipino to Bank of the Philippine Islands in 1912 resulted in the use of English from Spanish in all notes and coins issued up to 1933.
Starting May 1918, treasury certificates replaced the silver certificates series, and a one-peso note was added.
During the Japanese Occupation, two kinds of notes circulated in the country: the big-denomination war notes issued by the Japanese and the guerrilla notes or resistance currencies issued by provinces and municipalities.
Most of the resistance currencies were sanctioned by the Philippine government in-exile and partially redeemed after the war.
When the Philippines gained independence after World War II, the Philippine Republic used old treasury certificates overprinted with the word “Victory” as currency.
In 1949, the creation of the Central Bank of the Philippines paved the way for the issuance of the first currencies in the form of English series notes printed by the Thomas de la Rue & Co., Ltd. in England and the coins minted at the United States Bureau of Mint.
According to the BSP, the Filipinization of the Philippine Republic’s coins and paper money began in the late 1960s and continues to this day.
In the 1970s, the Marcos government issued the Ang Bagong Lipunan (ABL) series notes, which were printed at the BSP’s Security Printing Plant in Quezon City beginning 1978.
With the introduction of flora and fauna coins in 1983, a new wave of change swept through the Philippine coinage system. The series featured national heroes and species of flora and fauna.
Ten years after the new design series of banknotes issued in 1985 replaced the ABL series, a new set of coins and notes were again issued—this time carrying the BSP logo.
We now look forward to the impending release of the New Generation Currency at the end of this year, with its exciting new design and security features.
This new currency will again bring to the Filipino consciousness the message repeatedly reflected in the evolution of Philippine money under the Philippine Republic: that we are indeed a nation in command of our destiny.