All About Philippine Money

The standard of money in the Philippines is the peso. In the Filipino language it is actually written as piso, with the symbol being a P with two lines through it, thus: ? or even just P.

Philippines Money

It is divided into 100 units called centavos.

To give you an idea of a peso’s worth, in Australia one dollar will get you 42.55 pesos as of 2013.

In the United States one dollar will get you slightly less, at 41.21, as of this writing.

The reverse conversion means that a peso, although it resembles an American quarter, will get you about two cents whether you’re in Australia or the United States.

You should check the Internet for a currency converter based on data from the International Monetary Fund if you are calculating an actual conversion of cash, however, as the values can change from day to day.

History of Philippine Money

Filipinos have been trading using money as far back as the sixteenth century, when Spanish explorers first arrived at Filipino shores. The coins used in those days were called reales, which is the plural of the Spanish word real meaning royal. The natives used the Tagalog slang for money—salapi.

Two times in history, the government tried establishing money based on a standard of gold. The first time was in the mid-1800s. Briefly, during its period of revolution from 1898 to 1901, coinage was based on the value of the country’s goods, but as the Filipino colonial period got underway by 1903, the gold standard was tried for a second time, lasting until the upheaval of World War II.

During the war years, the Japanese poured paper money into the economy. There were also guerilla groups and banks that operated within the Philippines, and they also issued a variety of notes, which came to be called guerilla notes. After the war the United States and the Philippines formally recognized many of the guerilla notes.

However, while the Filipino government had promised to maintain a peso value of two pesos to one dollar, it was unable to maintain that idea. The peso lost value by 300 percent in one day, and the government frantically spent stores of gold and silver reserves trying to preserve it. Eventually, the government simply declared it to be a floating currency, which means that the money is not redeemable for gold or silver but rather represents the value of the country’s goods balanced against its debts.

It was not until 1967 when the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP, for Central Bank of the Philippines) completely took over the money and replaced the wording with the Filipino language. There were brass and brass/nickel coins issued in the 1950s, which put an end to the centavo notes. In the 1960s and 1970s it issued notes varying from 1 peso all the way up to 100 peso notes.

Today, however, the following denominations are printed:

  • 20 peso
  • 50 peso
  • 100 peso
  • 200 peso
  • 500 peso
  • 1,000 peso

Coins are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, or 25 centavos, as well as 1, 5, and 10 peso notes.

The paper notes benefited from a rejuvenated look in the past couple years. Many notes were redesigned to show favorite tourist spots and others depicted images of icons. Modern security precautions were incorporated into the designs. The money was so popularly received and so attractive that it actually ranked as a finalist in the annual competition for best new currency sponsored by the International Association of Currency Affairs.

By 2014, a new generation of coins will spill into the public’s hands. In this country that has seen so many new things come and then go, designers imply that the coins’ new look will reflect social and cultural changes—and they the new money will satisfy just about everybody. Like the paper money, it will incorporate security features to protect people from misusing it.

Money from 19 countries can be converted directly into money of the Philippines: Australia, Bahrain, Great Britain, Brunei money, Canada, China, the Euro, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.


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