The heroes removed from Philippine banknotes, coins throughout the years

Ralf Rivas

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The heroes removed from Philippine banknotes, coins throughout the years
Remember the time when we had Melchora Aquino, Juan Luna, and Lapulapu on our coins?

MANILA, Philippines – The decision of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to exclude World War II heroes from the new P1,000 polymer banknotes met outrage from Filipinos. 

Descendants of Josefa Llanes Escoda, Vicente Lim, and Jose Abad Santos urged the BSP to keep the martyrs’ portraits and place the Philippine eagle – or other plants and animals the central bank wants to feature – on the other side of the bill.

Heroes have been replaced or removed from Philippine currency before, but this is the first time that heroes will be replaced by animals.

English Series

Circulated from 1949 to 1969, the English Series was the first set of the Central Bank of the Philippines.

It featured the following heroes and former presidents on the banknotes:

  • P1 – Apolinario Mabini
  • P2 – Jose Rizal
  • P5 – Marcelo del Pilar and Graciano Lopez Jaena
  • P10 – Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora
  • P20 – Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto
  • P50 – Antonio Luna
  • P100 – Tandang Sora
  • P200 – Manuel Quezon
  • P500 – Manuel Roxas

For the 1-centavo and 5-centavo coins, a man beside an anvil holding a hammer and Mount Mayon are featured.

For the 10-centavo and 25-centavo coins, Lady Liberty and Mount Mayon are on the obverse side.

Pilipino Series and Bagong Lipunan Series

From 1969 to 1973 or during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos, the Central Bank issued the Pilipino Series. 

From 1973 to 1985, the Bagong Lipunan Series was launched, featuring a design similar to its predecessor. 

Both the Pilipino and Bagong Lipunan Series featured:

  • P1 – Jose Rizal
  • P5 – Andres Bonifacio
  • P10 – Apolinario Mabini
  • P20 – Manuel Quezon
  • P50 – Sergio Osmeña
  • P100 – Manuel Roxas

As for the coins, they featured:

  • 1 centavo – Lapulapu
  • 5 centavos – Melchora Aquino
  • 10 centavos – Francisco Baltazar
  • 25 centavos – Juan Luna
  • 50 centavos – Marcelo del Pilar
  • P1 – Jose Rizal
Flora and Fauna Series

Eight years after the Bagong Lipunan Series, the Flora and Fauna Series was introduced.

Heroes were featured on the reverse side, while plants and animals were depicted on the obverse instead of the Central Bank logo.

The series included:

  • 1 centavo – Voluta imperialis (a species of sea snail), Lapulapu
  • 5 centavos – waling-waling, Melchora Aquino
  • 10 centavos – Philippine goby, Francisco Baltazar
  • 25 centavos- Philippine butterfly, Juan Luna
  • 50 centavos – Philippine eagle, Marcelo del Pilar
  • P1 – tamaraw, Jose Rizal
  • P2 – coconut tree, Andres Bonifacio
  • P5 – narra, Emilio Aguinaldo

The sizes of the coins were reduced in 1991 and were called the Improved Flora and Fauna. Along with this improvement was the introduction of the P5 coin to replace the banknote.

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New Design Series

When Martial Law was lifted in 1981, the New Design Series was launched. 

The banknotes of the series had the following:

  • P5 – Emilio Aguinaldo
  • P10 – Apolinario Mabini and Andres Bonifacio (Bonifacio was added in 1997)
  • P20 – Manuel Quezon
  • P50 – Sergio Osmeña
  • P100 – Manuel Roxas
  • P200 – Diosdado Macapagal
  • P500 – Benigno Aquino Jr.

On December 16, 1991, the Philippines launched the P1,000 bill, which had the faces of World War II heroes.

The series also removed most of the heroes featured on the coins.

The 1, 10, and 25 centavos just had the BSP logo, while the 5 centavos had a hole in the middle.

The P1 still had Jose Rizal, while the P5 had Emilio Aguinaldo on the obverse side.

In 2001, the BSP stopped printing the P10 banknote and minted a coin which still had the portraits of Andres Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini.

New Generation Currency Series

In 2010, the BSP launched the New Generation Currency (NGC) Series. 

Members of the numismatic committee included BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo and historian and then-National Historical Institute chairman Ambeth Ocampo.

The NGC Series purposely retained most of the New Design Series features, such as the size, predominant colors, and featured personalities, except for the portrait of former president Corazon Aquino, an addition to the P500 note.

The series also replaced the image of the oath taking of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the reverse side of the P200 bill with the Philippine tarsier.

In 2019, the BSP launched the P20 coin which still had the face of Manuel Quezon. –

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.