‘Eye-pleasing’: P1,000 polymer banknote wins international award amid criticisms

May 3, 2023 - 12:58 PM
A photo of an attendant of a gas station holding up a stretched P1,000 polymer banknote he received from a customer on July 12, 2022 (The Philippine STAR/Michael Varcas)

The controversial P1,000 banknote in the Philippines won an international award.

The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) selected the bill as the “Bank Note of the Year” for 2022, thus besting 19 other newly printed counterparts from other countries.

The IBNS is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study of paper currencies and banknotes in different parts of the world. It currently has 2,000 members.

According to the website, the Banknote of the Year Award of the IBNS seeks to recognize the most “exceptional banknote” printed each year.

For this edition, of the 19 nominees, the Philippine banknote was the “overwhelming favorite” among the IBNS members.

“The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) announces that its voting membership has for the first time selected the Philippines Central Bank to receive [the] annual prestigious ‘Bank Note of the Year Award’ for 2022,” its statement reads on the website.

“With nearly 100 new banknotes released worldwide during 2022, only 19 were deemed of sufficiently new design to be member nominated. From the onset of voting, the Philippines’ 1,000 [banknote] was the overwhelming favorite,” the organization added.

The upgraded P1,000 paper bill, the highest in Philippine currency, featured the Philippine eagle on the front side and the Tubattaha Reefs Natural Park on the backside.

READ: Meet the photographer behind Philippine eagle icon in new P1,000 bill 

IBNS lauded this design. The organization particularly noted the “eye-pleasing” blue color and the “environmental motif.”

“The Philippines’ successful design in eye-pleasing blue combines an endangered species with an environmental motif. The 1,000 Piso note is similar in width but slightly longer than U.S. greenbacks,” the organization said.

The following are the runners-up of the award:

  • Northern Ireland’s (Ulster Bank) 50-pound bill – features flora, fauna, workers
  • Scotland’s (Bank of Scotland) 100-pound note – features Sir Walter Scott and Dr. Flora Murray
  • Algeria’s 2,000 Dinar – martyr’s Memorial with minaret
  • The Barbados 50 Dollar – former Prime Minister Errol Barrow
  • Egypt’s 10 Pound – mosque with pyramid and ancient queen

This recognition was shared and talked about on Twitter.

According to the IBNS, previous winners “represent the nation’s popular themes.”

“Winners of recent IBNS Banknote of the Year competitions are all miniature works of art that represent their nation’s popular themes. These winners should help provide a superb template as other countries consider how they eventually design and promote their own new banknotes,” the body said.

Weighing in on the award

The P1,000 polymer paper money has been in hot water since the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) unveiled it in April 2022.

The criticisms initially stemmed from the image of the Philippine eagle replacing those of three Filipino heroes—Jose Abad Santos, Vicente Lim and Josefa Llanes Escoda.

READ: Netizens weigh in on P1,000 bill design1 with Philippine Eagle in place of Filipino martyrs 

After it went into circulation, the P1,000 banknote once again made headlines due to its supposed delicate material.

READ: Will folded P1,000 polymer banknote be accepted for payment? | Discouraged, but legal: BSP’s rules on stapled P1,000 polymer bills 

These issues were brought up again on Twitter in reaction to the recognition it received.

“Yeah and let’s just forget the World War II heroes whose legacy and heroism were disregarded. Also, this won’t help in the conservation of the Philippine Eagle. Next!” a Twitter user said.

“It’s so flimsy and no one in our household wants to use these bills out of fear of ripping these,” another Filipino on Twitter said.

“To be honest for me, di siya practical sensitive siya. Pano mga nagtitinda sa palengke o yung sa junkshop, do you expect them na laging need maghugas ng kamay at kailangan din di siya malukot,” another Filipino tweeted.

These new pieces of paper money are also made of polymer material, thus replacing the ones made of cotton and abaca. They also have enhanced security features to reduce counterfeits.

The P1,000 version with the faces of Santos, Lim and Escoda are still being printed and used in circulation.