BSP Notes won top prize despite controverisies

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will introduce into circulation a hundred million new generation currency (NGC) banknotes in time for the Christmas holiday season when crisp peso bills are all the rage, especially with children who get money as their aguinaldo.

These peso bills will be added to the almost 300 million currency notes already in circulation.

The NGC banknotes recently won a finalist award for Best New Banknote Series in a conference in Singapore, despite being criticized for some errors and controversies.

Earlier this year, these notes became the subject of political and religious discussions due to the fact that some of the details were either not correct or insufficient.

Moreover, the new notes carry the slogan "PINAGPALA ANG BAYAN NA ANG DIYOS AY ANG PANGINOON" which has outraged some religious sects.

Best New Currency Feature?

The NGC version of the 500-peso and 1000-peso bills have an additional feature known as an optical variable device (OVD) patch and had won in the category of “Best New Currency Feature" — comparable to the dollar and Euro bills.

The OVD patch is a reflective foil that bears the image of BSP Logo with a parrot on the 500-peso bill and the South Sea Pearl inside a clam in the 1000-peso bill, which changes colors when the notes are rotated 90 degrees.

“The judges must have been impressed because of the beautiful combination between the security features and the design itself, and the play of colors," said BSP Vice Governor Diwa Guinigundo in an interview with Saleema Refran on GMA News TV's SONA.

The new bills were printed in France and are composed of 20 percent abaca fibers. But by the end of next year, the BSP expects to be able to print NGC banknotes here in the Philippines.

Revalidados: The Rare Holed Coins of the Philippines

Counterstamped coinage of the Philippines during the Spanish rule is in fact the hardest to collect of all numismatic rarities of the Philippines. Due to few available references for collectors like that of the books of Dr. Orphilla-Fortich and Pablo De Jesus, no other local numismatists have continued the study of Philippine Counterstamped coinage since.

Several individuals attempted to make further research on countermark coinage such as the prominent Barilla co-founder Dr. Benita Legarda, and other known officers from the organization Philippine Numismatic And Antiquarian Society (PNAS) but the short lived effort that managed to acquire some important specimen such as the SASTRE countermark for the BSP Money Museum have only produced facts that have already been outdated by time and the need for further expanding the avenue of research on the subject of Philippine Counterstamped coinage.

On March 13th October 1828, Don Mariano Ricafort, Captain General of the Philippine Islands, a subdivision of the Vice-Royalty of Mexico, issued an edict introducing a system of marking the “pesos y onzas de oro” produced by the “provincias insurectas y gobiernos revolucionarios” of the South American continent so that such subversive words as “Republica”, “Indepencia”, and “Libre” commonly seen being bannered on the newly coined silver crowns of Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and others be obliterated. The Spanish mint introduced machinery that could re-coin such silver crowns defacing them with their original legends and be replaced instead with that of “Habilitado por el Rey N.S.D. Fernando VII”, surrounded by a wide serrated border. The authorities of the still remaining colony in the East, the Philippines, desperate to oppress the awakening of the revolutionary spirit, devised a system that would not allow the flow of the new revolutionary coins into the Philippines.

Though crude and still not tested, the re-coining process was initiated in the year of 1828 by stamping the new coins with the large “MANILA” to assert the colonies restriction that otherwise guaranteed acceptance for trade and commerce. The production was however halted after less than 5 years of operation because the die easily worn out and later broke down thus, the authorities have decided to replace the die with a much simpler oval or circle countermark.

It was not until the 27th of October in the year of 1832 that Don Pascual Enrile, the new Governor of the Islands, resurrected the mint’s stamping office replacing the complicated procedure with a much simpler oval punch. During that same year, the local authorities implemented the piercing of foreign and older coins as similar to modern day demonetization therefore making them obsolete and not for circulation anymore. Piercing was usually done and placed on the 12 o’clock on the obverse of the coins that have therefore created holes on the coins similar to that of medals and amulets. The countermark coinage of 1832 was not only for the purpose of stamping but otherwise for the revalidation of the obsolete or pierced currencies.

In the strict sense of grading coins, pierced or holed coins have to be graded less or appraised at a lesser value which would be considered degrading to the coins catalogue value. However, there is always an exemption to that rule and this can be applied to revalidated coins.

Historical records however does not indicate if the piercing of coins were officially done by the mint itself or by supervision to its citizen, whether voluntary or mandatory, or with application of standard tools or not but for some reason however, only one thing is for sure, only a handful of revalidated coins have surfaced in the past and each specimen can be considered unique to its own category.

The policy of revalidation however does not only occurred during the reign of Ferdinand VII, the later reign of Queen Isabel II otherwise adopted the same policy. However, it can be noted that the implementation of the policy that time was rather conservative and stricter which manifested on the specimen that have surfaced. The YII countermark can only be seen on F70 countermark revalidated coins and this can be proven by all specimens that have been previously collected. No specimen that only have “YII” or Isabel II countermark been placed either one or both holes of pierce coins without initially been stamped either by the “1828-1830 Manila” or Ferdin VII oval countermark have ever been found. There are YII countermarked holed coins but these however cannot be considered connected to the same type of coins such as the coin below.

Yet the cream of the crop still has its own cream on top. Among the favorite specimen of the revalidated coinage is the 1828 MANILA with a Ferdin VII oval countermark on its hole previously sold in an auction held by PNAS several years ago. Also a specimen to be considered unique is a Peru Libre 1823 with triple countermark, F70 on obverse and YII on both sides of the hole. Another impressive specimen is the Ferdin VII 8 reales minted in Zacatecas Mexico with triple countermarks including both Ferdin VII and Isabela II countermarks. However, what makes this coin special are the two different countermarks placed on each holes, F70 on the obverse and YII on the reverse.

Most noted specimen with two countermarks on both holes has one monarch’s countermarked placed on both holes either with Ferdin VII or Isabel II only. Different monarch’s countermarks are excessively rare and can be considered as a valuable treasure of Philippine numismatic.

The Platinum Amulet (Anting-Anting)

This artifact is perhaps the most significant discovery in Philippine history. Never before expected that this rare metal would be present in the Philippine and in such period of our colorful past. Anting-anting is unique to Philippine culture and still baffle historians up to this day. There are so many varieties that have surfaced in the past and yet none have ever traced its maker nor those significant people who have worn these talisman.

What makes this piece so important is because it is one of a kind. Platinum is a very rare metal and the existence of this metal in our history proves that Spain did bring platinum to the Philippines during their reign. Numismatist only became aware of the existence of Platinum in Philippine numismatic when then young lawyer,. Willam Villareal reported a 2 peso Isabel struck in platinum during the late 70's. Spain did utilize Platinum for counterfeiting coins for their South American colonies during the reign of Isabel II. It has never been accounted though in our historical records if it had been done otherwise in the Philippines aside from the discovery of Villareal.

1808 Peru 2 reales with Ferdin VII and serration countermarks (Double Countermarks)

In 1832, Ferdin VII ordered the colony to have its coin countermark due the shortage of coins for the Philippines. The Manila counterstamp was a failure and a simple counterstamp was instead ordered as replacement.

Counterstamping of lower denominations were forbidden and thus only 4 to 6 specimen of 2-reales and 4-reales counterstamp are believed to exist. There were no reports of Ferdin VII countermark on 2 pillar portrait reales or any pre-revolutionary coinage of the Spanish colony. What makes this coin exceptional and unique is it has 2 distinct countermarks, the first one is the F70 on the obverse and on the reverse is serrated countermark on the reverse.

1862 Isabel II MANILA Junio 21 Inauguracion Del Obras Fuente Tubular

A similar medal issued during the reign of Queen Isabel shows the inauguration of the Manila Mint in 1861. It was only known among Philippine historians that  there were only water utility medals issued by Spain such as the 1882 Alfonso XII medal commemorating the opening of the Sta. Cruz fountain and first modern water pipe system of the City of Manila.

There were no reports however of bridge medals besides than the occasional bridge tokens that were discovered years ago, the rarest of which was from the later part of the 19th century.

This medal is otherwise believed to have been struck in Manila since the same design was used in the medal to commemorate the opening of the Manila Mint. No reported medal was struck for bridge inauguration and this specimen has only been known in existence on this modern day only. It is struck in silver and weighs around 5 grams.

Sto. Tomas...then UP, now Ateneo...what's next?

The year of 2011 is the year of overhauls and overprints of the current Philippine notes. The most controversial of which, is the issue behind some landmarks of the country and the proper way of writing scientific names, the portrait of figures who were made to look younger, the unattractive and eye sore bright colors, and so on. Most controversial among the changes is the phrase placed on the face of the banknote itself aside from the confusion it brought to the public as they became unfamiliar with the association of the notes color with its face value.

Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (BSP) quickly withdrew the notes and instead of revising the notes errors has instead re-issued the previous design and just changed the signatories to the current President of the Republic and the current Governor of the Central Bank, Benigno S. Aquino III and Amando M. Tetanco Jr respectively.

Last July, BSP issued the 100-piso bill which bears the overprinted logo of the University of the Philippines College of Law in celebration of the 100 years of Excellence in Law (1911-2011) of the premier public educational system of the country. This is the second time, BSP issued 100-piso bills which bears an overprinted logo of the institution as the University of the Philippines system itself celebrated its 100th year foundation day last 2008.

This month of August, BSP again issued another 100-piso overprint but this time with the logo of the Ateneo De Manila College of Law as the institution itself celebrates its 75th year foundation day( 75 YEARS ATENEO LAW SCHOOL AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM).

The 100 pesos which bears the date 2011 (similar to P194), but with blue 75 YEARS ATENEO LAW SCHOOL and the latin phrase AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM ("FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD") overprint on the watermark area.

This is the third time this year that BSP notes hosted the foundations of the leading educational institutions in the country, earlier this year the University of Sto. Tomas foundation day was hosted on the 200-piso bills as they celebrate their 400-year foundation.