New Jose Rizal one-peso coins the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas minted to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of the country’s national hero have begun circulating through the financial system.

The coins are of the same size and weight as the one-peso coin now in circulation —24 millimeters in diameter at 5.35 grams. On the side of Rizal’s portrait is etched “150 years” and “1861-2011”.

On the face of the grayish, nickel-plated coin is the portrait of Rizal, with the words “150 years,” “Republika ng Pilipinas,” and the years “1861-2011” etched on it. The reverse side carries the new BSP seal, “1-piso,” and “2011”.

The new Rizal coin still inherits the qualities of the previously minted 1-Piso coin which is magnetic. This is in relation to the government’s counter smuggling policy where 1-Piso were being smuggled to China for its metal content especially copper.

The new coin is the latest legal tender issued by the BSP, which has been replacing its old set of banknotes and coins with the “New Generation” currency series

But unlike the new paper bills, which were found to contain various inaccuracies in their depiction of Philippine wildlife and geography, the new Rizal coin has so far met no serious criticism from the general public. Some are asking, however, why they were issued towards the end of the 150-year celebrations and not, say, on Rizal’s 150 birthday itself, June 19.

Others have questioned why Rizal adorns a low-value coin. But lower denominations are usually thought to signify greater stature because of their wider circulation. There was a ripple of controversy some years ago when Emilio Aguinaldo replaced Andres Bonifacio on the five-peso currency. Bonifacio’s visage now shares the ten-peso coin with Apolinario Mabini’s, which some may think is a step down for the father of the Katipunan, who was executed in a power struggle with Aguinaldo.

BSP spokesperson Fe M. Dela Cruz told GMA News Online that as soon as word got out that the new coins were going to be issued, the central bank got a flood of inquiries and requests for allocations.