January 18, 2011

BSP Error Notes? What's the big deal?

The newly re-designed notes have not been mostly welcomed by critics and end-users alike mainly due to aesthetic reason and technical reason otherwise. Most critics are particularly pointing-out that the new bills have wrongly written the scientific names of the animals displayed or misplaced some geographical locations in the map of the Philippines.

For example, on the 200-peso bill, the tarsier’s scientific name was written as Tarsius Syrichta instead of the correct way, Tarsius syrichta.

According to scientists, there are two errors: the scientific name was not italicized; and the second word in the name should not begin with a capital letter.

Following scientific nomenclature rules, every living species is given a two-part name, with the first part the genus name and the second part the species name or epithet.

Other wildlife featured on the bills with wrongly written scientific names: whale shark (butanding), giant trevally (maliputo), palm civet, blue-naped parrot, and south sea pearl.

Birders have also pointed out that the Blue-naped Parrot, featured on the 500-peso bill, bears the wrong colors. Experts said the beak should be red and not yellow, while the tail should be yellow and not green.

In an interview, BSP spokesperson Fe de la Cruz said some of the inaccuracies in the colors may have been a limitation of the colors in the overall design of the bill.

Dr. Merab Chan, head of the Ateneo de Manila University's biology department, explained the guidelines in writing scientific names:
The first letter of the genus or generic name should be capitalized. The rest, including the whole of specific epithet, should be written in lower case. There should be a single space between the generic name and the specific epithet.

For example: Water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis)
Use italics for generic name and specific epithet. When handwritten or using a typewriter with no italics, underline the words that should be italicized.

For example: Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi or Pithecophaga jefferyi)
Chan said a mistake made on a national currency comprised a "very big mistake" and should be corrected immediately and before the bills are circulated.

"They have to check things like that before putting it on our peso bills," she said. "They should have consulted and verified with a taxonomist first."

"I think they need to change it before they circulate the new bills," she added.

However, in an earlier interview, the BSP said it will make any necessary corrections in the next batch of bills that it will print.

"It's a work in progress, ang paggawa namin ng pera (We consider the new bills a work in progress)," de la Cruz said.

In a separate interview, BSP deputy governor Diwa Gunigundo said they will immediately correct the mistakes that can be corrected.

"Isasaayos 'yan kung may pagkakamali (We will correct the mistakes)," he said in a radio interview.
The new Philippine peso bill designs were unveiled by the BSP on December 16. The new designs featured the same heroes but used younger photos. The most notable change on the obverse (front) side of the bills was found in the 500-peso bill: the new banknotes featured both former President Corazon Aquino and her husband Senator Ninoy Aquino. Older bills only featured the former senator.

The reverse (back) sides of the bills now feature tourist sites like the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, the Banaue Rice Terraces, Taal Lake, the Mayon Volcano, Chocolate Hills, and the Tubbataha Reefs National Park.

The design of the new bills was criticized for supposedly containing errors in the geographical depiction of sites like the Tubbataha Reefs and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean Park.

The Batanes Islands, found at the country’s northernmost tip, had also been omitted from the illustration of the Philippine map found on the new bills.

De la Cruz said the Batanes Islands were not included because there was not enough space.

“Lahat ng komento ay iniipon namin, ie-evaluate at magkakaroon ng decision moving forward. Ang paggawa ng pera based sa plates, kung kailangan palitan, moving forward (We are collating and evaluating the criticisms about the new bills. Once we make the proper corrections we will implement them on the [printing] plates [for the next batch of bills to be printed.])," she said.


Paper money need not be aesthetically appealing in order to be considered proper for circulation. In the first place, money was produced without the intention of both public admiration and display but more of a simplified tool for expediting trade.

In our past especially during the time of World War 2, guerrilla notes were produced using either substandard or improvised equipment like typewriters or mimeographing machines and crude or mainly used paper like ballots, old documents, and pieces of old notebooks. The reasons for producing such notes was to counter Japanese economic rule by propaganda and acquire supplies from either both civilians and United States forces.

What makes some Philippine Guerilla notes unique from other notes are its simple but effective security features, which are the 3 signatures from three highest ranking officials in command of the guerrilla unit. These kind of approach are particularly exemplified in notes issued in the island of Samar.
Other guerrilla notes have either used inks that are very hard to imitate or paper ephemera which particularly made it unique. Such example is the 20 centavos Tacloban-Leyte issue which utilized old sample ballots.

In the past, the BSP circulated coins and banknotes that also had glaring mistakes on them.

In 1983, the scientific name of the Philippine eagle was wrongly minted on a 50-centavo coin deficting the Philippine Monkey-Eating eagle and the 10-centavo with the smallest fish from lake Buhi. The scientific name of the Philippine eagle is Pithecophaga jefferyi and pandaka pygmeae, but the central bank wrongly minted it as “Pithecobhaga jefferyi" and “pandaka pygmea” respectively.

Yet even though the scientific names spelling were corrected, they were not italicized as suggested by today's critics.

Other claims regarding geographical corrections should have been more retroactive, that it should have added the map of SABAH in BORNEO because the Philippines has a strong territorial claim to the island of Sabah against the government of Malaysia and setting aside otherwise the Kalayaan group of islands which is inside the Philippine territorial waters.

Personally, critics of the new notes have undermined other technical importance in favor of what they are only aware of. Money is a tool and not an ambassador of tourism. If the BSP will favor too much technicality, this piece of paper is not enough to enclosed our complicated history and and anomalous political and social structure and agenda.

The BSP's intention of printing new money is an answer to current currency wars being implemented by other powerful nations. The purpose of printing money is part of fiscal policy to ease up our debt and balance our budget. Our current notes maybe of unappealing to most of us but it is safe enough to say that it is doing its purpose.

1 make comments on this post:

lunaticg said...

Its a big deal to numismatic world. Everyone is waiting for this notes to be circulated since its already an error notes. Eventhough it will not get circulated, people still wish that the error notes will go out because it will get a high price from us, the collector.

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