Mukhang Pera: Banknotes and Nation

By on July 11, 2011

mukhang pera - front page

This year’s History Comes Alive! kicked off with Mukhang Pera: Banknotes and Nation last July 9, 2011 at the Ayala Museum in Makati. This is the first topic of the lecture series by Dr. Ambeth Ocampo, a widely read columnist and the chairman of the History Department of the Ateneo de Manila University. He has also gained a considerable reputation for giving the events and the people that concern the Philippines’ history a scholarly second look.

Last saturday’s topic on banknotes was then no exception. After the talk, I am surprised how these thin pieces of paper can hold so much interesting information aside from the numbers, the president and the scenic spots featured on them. Each denomination also has its own share of controversy, especially the New Generation Currency (NGC) issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas last year. Dr. Ocampo also poignantly wrapped the afternoon’s discussion as to how these bills from the past up to the present, express history, culture and identity of the Philippines as a whole.

mukhang pera - various scenes

I must say that I was really engaged with the topic all through out the 1.5 hour TED-like presentation. Perhaps the reason for that is because Dr. Ocampo graciously dashes his talk with quirky asides. He wondered if there are really 7,107 islands in the Philippines when that number was not scientifically verified at all. How that figure came about could actually be anybody’s guess.

I am also glad that my good friend and I made it to the venue just in time. Earlier that morning, we had our Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 passports stamped at Paco Cemetery, Fort Santiago and Intramuros. It was already 2:00 PM when we departed for Makati. When we got to the museum, the lobby was already filled to overflowing but we still got second row seats.

The crowd turnout is quite encouraging since you’d have to be a football player or a rockstar to command that kind of following in this side of the world. Dr. Ambeth Ocampo was neither of the two which goes to show that while a significant chunk of the population are pining for vampire movies and soap operas, more and more Filipinos are also interested with historical and cultural talks like this.


If you missed last Saturday’s installment, there are two more scheduled this year: 13 Women: The loves of Jose Rizal on September 10 and Mapping the Philippines on November 26. Each session is priced cheaper than a 3D movie ticket (Php 350 for adults and Php 200 for students, senior citizens, teachers and Ayala Museum members). Aside from the informative and entertaining talk, we also got an autographed Ambeth Ocampo book and access to all galleries at the Ayala Museum.

For more reservations and inquiries, please email education@ayalamuseum.org or call them at +63 2 757-7117 to 21 local 24/25/35.

  1. Reply


    July 11, 2011

    classmate, let's attend the upcoming classes ha! 😀

  2. Reply


    July 11, 2011

    hey classmate val, Rizal madness indeed! But I might not make it to the 2nd installment due to a conflict in a travel schedule. I do hope that ayala museum would bump it to a later date.

  3. Reply


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Brennan Mercado
The Philippines

Brennan is an electronics engineer by profession. From time to time, he gets to travel beyond his office cubicle, try new restaurants or catch up with his terribly long list of unread books. He likes museums, spicy food and talking with habal-habal drivers. For now, he's still deciding on whether to play Pokémon GO or not.

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