The peso is the official currency of the Philippines and is usually denoted by the symbol “₱”. It has the code of PHP. Other means of writing the peso are “PhP”, “P”, or “P”. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (formerly called as Central Bank of the Philippines) controls the issuance of coins and banknotes in the country. The peso is subdivided in 100 centavos or sentimo in Filipino language.
Before the colonization of Spain, early Filipinos traded goods with neighboring islands through barter exchange. Later they made use of gold which some numismatists claimed to be the earliest coin of the Filipinos.
When the Spaniards came afoot in the Philippines in 1521, the unit of trade was the “teston” (four-reales silver) until the founding of Manila in 1574. In the native tongue, the coin was referred to “salapi”,which means “money” in English. The Spaniards introduced the Real de la Ocho silver, known to the Spanish Empire as peso.
The monetary situation of the Philippines became a problem because different types of coins with different values were introduced. These include Peseta Columnaria, Real Fuertes, Peseta Sencilla, Pesos deMinas and many more. They were difficult to comprehend and hindered trading. In order to solve the confusion, a decimal system was introduced in the 1850’s.
The Banco Español-Filipino de Isabel 2 circulated notes for 10, 25 and 50 pesos fuertes (strong peso) in 1852. It issued more notes in 1877 with denominations of 1, 4 and 25 pesos fuertes.
In the 1861, 1, 2, and 5 peso coins made of gold, were introduced. Three years later, silver 10, 20 and 50 centimos de peso were done. Sometime between 1903 and 1918, certificates made out of silver were dispatched with denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 pesos. The coins made these years were of bronze a half, and 1 centavo, cupro nickel of 5 centavos and silver 10, 20 and 50 centavos and 1 peso.
The Banco Español-Filipino issued more notes in 1904; denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 200 pesos were seen. The bank later changes its name to Bank of the Philippine Islands in 1912. It continued to issue the currency up to 1933. The one peso coin stopped circulating in 1912 and that of the 50 cents in 1921.
The Philippine National Bank (PNB) also had been issuing notes in 1916. Denominations of 2, 5 and 10 pesos, and emergency notes in 1917 for 10, 20 and 50 centavos, 1, 5, 10 and 20 pesos were made. Around 1918 – 1937, the PNB issued notes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos.
During the Japanese occupation, no coins were minted and banknotes were frequently called “The Mickey Mouse Money”.
Coins were minted back in 1958 – bronze 1 centavo, brass 5 centavos and nickel brass 10, 25 and 50 centavos were made. The whole coinage system was altered through the years. Currently, coins in circulation are: 5, 10, 25 centavos and 1, 5, 10 coins.
The 1967, the Central Bank of the Philippines changed its name to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Two years later, it introduced the following notes – 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 peso. The 500 peso notes were circulated in 1987, 1,000 peso notes in 1991 and 200 peso notes in 2002. The 5 and 10 peso notes have stopped circulating, though still considered as legal tender.
As of February 23, 2011, 1 USD = 43.65 PHP.