The official website of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
The official website of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

Back to Home

Error-filled peso billas spark uproar

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:06:00 12/20/2010

Filed Under: Banking, Places, Monuments & Heritage Sites

MANILA, Philippines—Geographically challenged Philippine maps and a rare parrot with the wrong-colored beak have perturbed the country after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) rolled out error-filled new editions of its peso bills.

The new banknotes, scheduled to be rolled out this month and containing the signature of President Benigno Aquino III who took office this year, bombed spectacularly in the graphics department, according to critics.

The reverse side of the new 500-peso bill features a rare native bird—the blue-naped parrot, with its red beak incorrectly rendered in yellow and its tail feathers underneath colored green instead of yellow.

A map on the same bill—which also carries portraits of Mr. Aquino’s late parents—mislocates Palawan’s Saint Paul’s subterranean river that has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site.

“Yes, they have made a very big booboo on the parrot,” said Jon Villasper, a cartographer who is also a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.

“Aside from that, they misplaced Tubbataha Reef by around 400 kilometers and Batanes is not on the map. I believe they also misplaced Saint Paul’s subterranean river,” Villasper told Agence France-Presse by e-mail.

Printed on the 1,000-peso bill is a map locating the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, another prized Philippine UNESCO world heritage site, on or near Malaysian territorial waters.

The map of the Philippines featured on six different bills redraws the country’s territory, places its northern limit 150 kilometers south of the actual line and excludes the Batanes island group.

Lawyer Ghelynne Avril del Rosario said the mistakes echoed a rebranding campaign by the Department of Tourism that was withdrawn last month amid charges that its slogan was forgettable, it plagiarized Poland’s campaign and the URL of its website resembled that of a pornographic site.

Space constraints

Like the campaign, the bills are now fodder for ridicule on Internet social networking sites, Rosario said.

“Just like scrapping the ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda (Philippines What a Beauty)’ slogan, let’s scrap the new peso notes as well!” Del Rosario said.

BSP spokesperson Fe de la Cruz acknowledged the criticisms, but said space constraints limited the artist’s room for maneuver.

“In choosing the design, we are always guided by our commitment to enrich the appreciation and knowledge of the Filipinos we honor on our banknotes, as well as the unique sites and species our country should be proud of,” said De la Cruz, director of the BSP corporate affairs office.

“For our banknotes, we used an artist’s rendition of the Philippine map that by virtue of space and aesthetics does not reflect all of our islands and the precise coordinates of each site,” she said. “Nevertheless, we appreciate constructive comments and we will take these into account moving forward.”

In the redesign of the new banknotes, the BSP tapped the services of Design Systemat and Studio 5 Designs.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco earlier said the central bank decided to feature the country’s top tourist destinations in the new banknotes to attract more visitors to the country.

It was not the first time the central bank has been left red-faced over currency design. In 2005, it was forced to withdraw bills that misspelled President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s name as “Gloria Arrovo.”

In the 1980s, the central bank issued a 50-centavo coin that misspelled the scientific name of the Philippine eagle as Pithecobhaga jefferyi, instead of Pithecophaga jefferyi. Reports from Agence France-Presse and Michelle V. Remo