June 13, 2008

Numismatic Article V


Courtesy of DANIEL W. TANTOCO JR., Philippine Heritage Vol. 07 pp. 1840 - 1843

Before 1852 no paper money was use in the Philippines. Only in May of that year were notes, known as pesos fuertes , issued by the newly-established El Banco Español – Filipino de Isabel II. Denonimations issued by this bank were in five, ten, twenty-five, fifty and hundred pesos fuertes, payable in Mexican or Spanish-Philippine silver coins. The portrait of Queen Isabel II appeared on its face. Each note measured about four by six and was printed in Spain.

El Banco – Español Filipino monopolized the issuance of these notes from 1852 to 1896. Only one issue with a similar format was made in 1904, during the American regime. The denomination was simply expressed in pesos.


Following victory in the Philippine Revolution of 1896, President Emilio Aguinaldo of the First Philippine Republic, by virtue of the powers vested in him by the Malolos Constitution, decreed a new system of coinage and paper currency. The government was authorized to issue notes to the value of 3, 000, 000 pesos, in denominations of one, two, five, ten, twenty, fifty and hundred pesos. All properties and resources of the government were considered securities.

However, of the paper money authorized to issue, only the one peso and the five pesos notes were printed as the Republica Filipina Papel Moneda de Cinco Pesos, respectively. Most notes bore the signature of pedro A. Paterno, president of the Council of State.


During the American Occupation the U.S. government instituted a more orderly and workable monetary system for the Philippines. On March 02, 1903, it approved “An Act to Establish a Standard of Value and to Provide for a Coinage System in Philippine Islands.”

The first paper currency issues were the government Silver Certificates in series dated from 1903 to 1916. The initial issues were in denominations of two, five and ten pesos. As the need for larger denominations became apparent, the twenty, fifty, hundred and five hundred peso notes were issued from 1905 until about the middle of 1918. These Silver Certificates were redeemable on demand of the bearer in silver pesos or in U.S. gold coins of equivalent value.

To prevent confusion with the U.S. dollar, a smaller size dollar (approximately the size of today’s dollar bills) was adopted for the Philippine notes. The Philippine peso was given its own peso mark (P) instead of the dollar mark ($). The capital letter “P” was deemed most appropriate, being the initial letter of the english word “Philippines,” the word “peso” and the Spanish word “plata” or silver.

In addition to the government Silver Certificates the first bank notes were circulated in 1908 by the old El Banco – Español Filipino. Although manufactured in the United States by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, these bank notes were printed entirely in Spanish. The values were cinco, diez, veinte, cincuenta, cien, and doscientos pesos.

On January 01, 1912, the name of El Banco Español – Filipino changed to Bank of the Philippine Islands. All bank note series dated 1912 – 1933 were entirely in English. Notes were issued sporadically between 1912 and 1933. The 200 – peso denomination was eliminated after the 1928 issue.

Both the notes issued by the El Banco Español – Filipino and the Bank of the Philippine Islandss completely ceased to be the legal tender at the outbreak of World War II late in December 1941.


Charles A. Conant, an economic expert, was considered the father of the U.S. – Philippine currency system. He recommended the establishment of a Philippine National Bank and the creation of branch offices in provincial capitals. On February 4, 1916, the Philippine National Bank was opened in Manila and branches were also opened throughout the islands.

With the increasing volume of trade in the country it became necessary to authorize the PNB to issue circulating notes by August 1916. The first issues included two, five, ten, twenty and hundred peso notes. By 1918 the regular issues of the PNB circulating notes were made in the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing and issued until 1937. The word “Philippines” was used instead of “Philippine Islands.” The notes were withdrawn from circulation on June 1, 1948. Republic Act No. 211 provided for their surrender and redemption within one year from said date, after which they would no longer be legal tender.


Economic instability, fluctuating prices of silver and speculative hoarding of silver coins caused a critical shortage of minor coins for circulation sometime in 1917-1918. As an emergency measure the Philippine National Bank printed locally on cardboard paper emergency circulating notes of smaller denominations. First released in September 1917 were Fifty - centavos and One - peso notes. Two months later the lower values of ten and twenty centavos were issued.


On May 6, 1918, a law was passed by the Philippine Legislature and approved by President Wilson for the replacement of the earlier silver certificates with treasury certificates. A new One - peso treasury certificate was authorized for addition to the existing denominations of two, five, ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred, and five hundred pesos.

These treasury certificates were the series dated from 1918 to the postwar VICTORY series No. 66. Some major alterations in size, color, and design were made. Beginning the series of 1929. Notable was the substitution of “Philippine Treasury Certificate” for “Treasury Certificate.” By this time the United States dollar bills had been reduced in size and modifications of the Philippine currency helped to avoid confusion.

The establishment of the Commonwealth in 1935 caused more changes in the Philippine currency. Notes dated 1936 and later issues used the single word “Philippines” instead of the “Philippine Islands.” The signature of Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon replaced that of former Governor General Frank Murphy on the series dated 1936 and 1941. The new Commonwealth seal was also used on the 1936 issue.

On October 20, 1944, the United States forces led by General Douglas Mac Arthur brought in new Philippine currency – the VICTORY series No. 66. These new Philippine treasury certificates were overprinted in bold black letters with the word “VICTORY” on the reverse side. They were also in denomination of one, two, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 pesos. They were redeemable only in silver pesos, since the United States abandoned the gold standard in 1933. The VICTORY notes bore the facsimile signatures of presidents Manuel L. Quezon, Sergio Osmeña and Manuel A. Roxas during their respective terms of office.

Only the treasury certificates of the VICTORY series No. 66 continued in circulation after the issuance of new Central Bank notes in 1949. Most of these notes were overprinted in red with “CENTRAL BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES” on the reverse side. The 500-pesos VICTORY notes were demonetized on December 31, 1957. The lesser denominations remained legal tender until July 30, 1964, after which they could only be exchanged at par with legal-tender currency within the next three years, ending on July 30, 1967, when they were considered demonetized.


The Japanese occupation of the Philippines in 1941-1945 marked the worst inflation in Philippine Numismatic history. Occupation currency was issued in great volume. The notes ranged from one centavo to 1, 000 pesos. These, the Filipinos derisively called “Mickey Mouse” money.

Meanwhile, some provinces and municipalities issued guerilla currency, which was sanctioned by the Philippine government – in – exile and actually redeemed after the war. Mimeographed municipal chits authorized by the local emergency boards were used in local transactions.

After the Philippines gained independence from the United States in 1946, the Central Bank of the Philippines was established, in 1949. It was authorized to issue the new republic’s new paper money.

The Central Bank Notes bore the picture of Apolinario Mabini on its face, with the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan, at the back of the One – peso note; Jose Rizal, with the landing of Magellan in the Philippines in 1521 on the Two – peso note; Marcelo H. Del Pilar at the left and Graciano Lopez Jaena at the right, with the vignette of the newspaper La Solidaridad on the Five – peso note; Father Burgos, Father Gomes and Father Zamora, with the Urdaneta – Legazpi monument and the Philippine flag on the Ten – peso note; Andres Bonifacio at the left and Emilio Jacinto at the right, with the Balintawak monument on the 20 – peso note; Antonio Luna, with the vignette of the Pacto de Sangre from a painting by Juan Luna on the 50 – peso note; Tandang Sora, with a vignette regimental flags and a row of veterans in the foreground on the 100 – peso note; Manuel L. Quezon, with the Legislative Building on the 200-peso note; Manuel A. Roxas, with the Central Bank Building at the back of the 500-peso note.

The 200 and 500 – peso notes were withdrawn from circulation on December 31, 1957, pursuant to Philippine Republic Act No. 1516. Only notes of one- up to fifty pesos continued to be printed untril 1961 and circulated toward the end of 1973.

Small-denomination notes with reduced dimensions were also issued from 1951 to 1957 to replace the US-Filipinas metallic coins. They came in five-, ten-, 20-, 50- centavo denominations. In 1955 the Half – peso with slightly larger measurement was circulated. These small notes were required to be surrendered to the Central Bank or its authorized agents, or to provincial, city or municipality treasurers on or before January 4, 1970. In 1958 the Monetary Board approved metal alloy to replace the worn-out small notes.


A radical change in the development of Philippine money occurred when the Central Bank of the Philippines in 1967 adopted coinage and paper currency worded in Pilipino.

About the middle of 1969 the Central Bank started to issue the series of Central Bank notes worded entirely in the national language. Filipino heroes were featured on the face of the notes. The back showed different vignettes in Philippine history, as follows: the One – peso note with Dr. Jose Rizal and Pahayag ng Kasarinlan ng Pilipinas noong Hunyo 12, 1898 sa Balkonahe ng Mansiyong Aguinaldo; the Five – peso note with Andres Bonifacio and Mga Bagong Kasapi ng Katipunan; the Ten – peso note with Apolinario Mabini and Simbahan ng Barasoain; the 20-peso note with Manuel L. Quezon and Palasyo ng Malakanyang; the 50-peso note with Sergio Osmeña and Gusali Ng Batasan; the 100-peso note with Manuel A. Roxas and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The new Pilipino series, all of the same size, had new security features. On the left side of each note was the watermark, a blank space where the image of the portrait the note bore could be viewed when the note was held against the light. Other safeguards were the broken security thread forming a vertical line, the red and blue fibers sprinkled all over the note, and the fluorescent printing visible only under ultraviolet light. These notes bore the facsimile signatures of President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Central Bank Governor Gregorio Licaros.

Thomas Dela Rue & Co. Ltd., of England, printed the One – peso, 50-peso, and 100-peso bills, while Giesecke & Devrient, GMBH, of West Germany, made the Five – peso, Ten – peso and 20-peso notes. Thomas de la Rue & co. Ltd. Also printed all notes from One – peso to the 50-peso denominations sometime between September and December 1972. The Central Bank called them “improved bank notes” because of their more solid lettering for easier reading, the dominant color of the note applied on the portrait of the hero featured, and the bleed-off tint covering both faces of the watermark panel.


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