There was much fanfare, anticipation and curiosity when the New Generation Series banknotes were released by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The redesigned Philippine bills are more colorful, have more security features and are well-designed. But these also had their share of criticisms. Some noticed the incomplete Philippine map, while there were also those that questioned the choice of historical events and scenic spots depicted on the new bills.
I honestly did not care much for the nitpicking back then. I remember giving away new Php 20.00 bills to my balikbayan cousins because these were the only Christmas gifts that I can afford. But you also have to give me some credit for resourcefulness. You see, even this small denomination was hard to come by during those times. People were then in an unexplainable frenzy to hoard the new currencies for their private collection.
I also collected some back in the day. But I found myself spending one crisp bill after the other especially when I was hardpressed for funds. Thankfully, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Museum did not give in to the slightest temptation to give away their priceless collection of Philippine coinage and banknotes should an inexplicable need arises. The last time we went there, they are all still there.
This museum collects, studies and preserves the country’s rich numismatic heritage. The collections are grouped by historical periods – Pre-Spanish, Spanish, Revolutionary, American, Japanese and the Republic. These would give one an idea of the complex evolution of the Philippine money, from gold barter rings and piloncitos up to New Generation Series banknotes.
Cameras are strictly not allowed inside the museum. I would have wanted to post the photo of the Php 100,000 bill, which measures 8.5″ x 14″ or slightly larger than a short bond paper and is said to be accredited by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s biggest legal tender note. If you have one, good luck in getting change when you decide to finally use it to pay like for your jeepney ride.
I guess that is just one of the many reasons why you have to pay a visit to the BSP Museum soon. It is undoubtedly a numismatic’s happy place, but you’ll still find this museum a worthwhile visit even if you are not into collecting banknotes and coins.
For those who belong to the latter crowd, I assure you that you will not look at our banknotes, new ones or otherwise, the same way again after you are done with the museum tour. More than the vivid colors or the dead heroes or the state-of-the-art anti-counterfeiting measures, each of these has an important story to tell.
Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
Bangko Sental ng Pilipinas Complex
A. Mabini St. Corner P. Ocampo St., Malate, Manila
+63 2 524 9534
The museum is open on weekdays, from 9 AM – 12 NN and 1 PM – 4 PM.