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Philippines Currency Spotlight: Philippine Peso

In Business and Currency by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

In this Spotlight we’ll take a closer look at the history of currency in the Philippines, the Philippine peso,  while also delving into the economy as a whole. Whether you need to buy Philippine pesos or are just curious in learning a few things – read on!

Fast Facts: Philippine Peso

  • Philippine Peso Symbol:
  • Philippines Currency Code: PHP
  • Subunits: Sentimo or centavo(1/100)
  • Coins: 1c, 5c, 10c, 25c, ₱1, ₱5, ₱10
  • Banknotes: ₱20, ₱50, ₱100, ₱200, ₱500, ₱1000
  • Philippines GDP (nominal): $330.259 billion
  • Central Bank: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
  • BUY NOW: Order pesos online HERE

Philippine Peso History

In pre-colonial times in the Philippines, trade relied primarily on bartering. Eventually certain objects gained popularity as mediums of exchange, most notably stamped gold beads called piloncitos, which are now considered the country’s first coins. When the Spanish arrived in 1521 they brought their own coinage, called the teston. After founding Manila in 1574 the Spanish introduced the silver real de a ocho which was divided into 8 reals or 4 cuartos or 8 octavos. A decimal based currency system was introduced in 1857. In the same year plans for the Philippines to have its own mint were approved and the mint was opened in 1861, producing coins in denominations of 1, 2 and 4 pesos as well as 10, 20 and 50 centimos. The Spanish-Filipino peso was minted in Madrid in 1897 valuing the peso at 25 grams of silver. The very next year the Philippine Declaration of Independence was issued and the Philippine Republic began issuing its own coins in 1901. This lasted for two years before the United States took the Philippines and created a new peso tied to the gold standard, and half the value of the US dollar. In 1942 the Japanese took the Philippines and began issuing their own currency which quickly succumbed to hyperinflation.

After the war, in 1949, the Central Bank of the Philippines was founded. The bank promised to keep the peso at half the value of the USD, and refused to redeem notes for silver or gold. Consequently the value of the peso dropped 67% in three hours. By 1964 silver coins in circulation were worth 12 times more than their face value. Unable to encourage people to spend these silver coins the government eventually demonetised them and floated the currency.

Philippine Peso Notes and Coins

The current series of coins was introduced in 1995

Value Obverse Reverse
1 sentimo Value, date and Republika ng Pilipinas Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas logo
5 sentimos Value, date and Republika ng Pilipinas Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
10 sentimos Value, date and Republika ng Pilipinas Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas logo
25 sentimos Value, date and Republika ng Pilipinas Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas logo
1 peso Value, date and Republika ng Pilipinas and Jose Rizal – Filipino nationalist during Spanish colonial period Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas logo
5 pesos Value, date and Republika ng Pilipinas and Emilio Aguinaldo – a Filipino revolutionary and First President of the Philippines Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas logo
10 pesos Republika ng Pilipinas, year of minting. Apolinario Mabini y Maranan – 1st Prime Minister – and Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro – called the father of the Philippine Revolution. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas logo

The latest generation of notes was released in 2010. They feature famous Filipinos and iconic scenery.

Value Colour Obverse Reverse
₱20 Orange Manuel L. Quezon – second President of the Philippines – Declaration of Filipino as the national language,Malacañan Palace The Banaue Rice Terraces, Asian palm civet and Cordilleras weave design
₱50 Red Sergio Osmeña – fourth President –  First Philippine Assembly, Leyte Landing Taal Lake in Batangas; Giant trevally Batangas embroidery design
₱100 Violet Manuel A. Roxas – fifth president – Old BSP building, Manila, Inauguration of the Third Philippine Republic Mayon Volcano in Albay; Rhincodon typus, whale shark; Bicol textile design
₱200 Green Diosdado P. Macapagal – ninth president – EDSA People Power 2001, Aguinaldo Shrine, Cavite, Barasoain Church in Malolos Chocolate Hills; Philippine tarsier; Visayas weave design
₱500 Yellow Corazon C. Aquino – 11th president and first female president in Asia, Benigno S. Aquino Jr. – governor and opposition leader who was assassinated – EDSA People Power I, Benigno Aquino monument Subterranean River in Puerto Princesa, Palawan; blue-naped parrot; Southern Philippines cloth design
₱1000 Blue José Abad Santos – Chief Justice and former president -,Vicente Lim, Josefa Llanes Escoda – WWII general – Centennial celebration of Philippine independence; Philippine Medal of Honor Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Sulu Sea; South Sea pearl; Mindanao design for Tinalak (Ikat-dyed abaca)

Phillipine Peso Value

Since the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas opened in 1949 the country has persisted in devaluing the currency in order to decrease the country’s debt in real terms. As a consequence, the peso has lost 99% of its value since 1949. After demonetizing silver pesos and floating the currency in 1964 the country has continued to allow the peso to float freely.

1 USD is currently (10:45AM, Jan 22 2016) valued at 47.7177 PHP

USD PHP 5 years graph rate watch

PHP to 1 USD over the past 5 years (courtesy of

1 CAD is currently (10:45AM, Jan 22 2016) valued at 33.7347 PHP

CAD PHP rate watch 5 years graph

PHP to 1 CAD over the past 5 years (courtesy of


Phillipines Economy

The Philippines economy is considered newly industrialised having only recently transitioned from an agrarian economy to one based more on services and industry. Agriculture still accounts for 32% of the country’s labour force and 14% of GDP, but the industrial sector now accounts for 30% of GDP, with services making up 56% of GDP. Following WWII the Philippines was considered second only to Japan in regional wealth, but mismanagement hurt the economy until liberalising reforms in the 90’s began to improve the country’s economic well being. Remittances still play a crucial role in the country’s economy, providing more foreign currency than direct investment at over 10% of GDP. Tourism is a newly developed industry but one with great potential, while the government has also targeted business services outsourcing as a key future industry. Experts often tout the Philippines to be amongst the next big developing countries in the world and could be one of the 20 largest global economies by 2050.

philippines peso coins sorted white background

Final Thoughts

The Philippine peso has lost much of its value, but the low value could be advantageous to a country trying to minimise its domestic debt, increase tourism and become a source of business outsourcing to foreign companies.

Need to buy Philippine pesos? Order online right away HERE. Of course if you require any other of over 160 different currencies, we’ve got you covered!

For a broader understanding of Filipino history and culture check out our Country of the Week profile. For information about traveling to the Philippines then be sure to follow our Travel Guide.

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