Philippine money–multi-colored threads woven into the fabric of our social, political and economic life. From its early bead-like form to the paper notes and coins that we know today, our money has been a constant reminder of our journey through centuries as a people relating with one another and with other peoples of the world.
Trade among the early Filipinos and with traders from the neighboring islands was conducted through barter. The inconvenience of barter later led to the use of some objects as medium of exchange. Gold, which was plentiful in many parts of the islands, invariably found its way into these objects that included the piloncitos, small bead-likeb gold bits considered by the local numismatists as the earliest coin of the ancient Filipinos, and gold barter rings.
Spanish Era (1521-1897)
Three hundred years of Spanish rule left many indelible imprints on Philippine numismatics. At the end of the Spanish regime, Philippine money was a multiplicity of currencies that included Mexican pesos, Alfonsino pesos and copper coins of other currencies. The cobs or macuquinas of colonial mints were the earliest coins brought in by the galleons from Mexico and other Spanish colonies. The silver dos mundos or pillar dollar is considered one of the world’s most beautiful coins. The barilla, a crude bronze or copper coin worth about one centavo, was the first coin struck in the country.
Coins from other Spanish colonies also reached the Philippines and were counterstamped. Gold coins with the portrait of Queen Isabela were minted in Manila. Silver pesos with the profile of young Alfonso XIII were the last coins minted in Spain. The pesos fuertes, issued by the country’s first bank, the El Banco Espanol Filipino de Isabel II, were the first paper money circulated in the country.
Revolutionary Period (1898-1899)
Asserting its independence, the Philippine Republic of 1898 under...