All About the Philippine Peso

The peso, known as the ‘piso’ in the Filipino register of the Tagalog language, is the official currency of the Philippines. It is usually denoted with the symbol ₱, with its ISO 4217 code being PHP. Here is a brief history of the Philippine peso and a description of its banknotes and coins.

A Brief History

Prior to when the Spanish entered the Philippines in 1521, Philippines had made use of a bartering system that eventually transformed into a system of bead and ring shaped pieces of gold that were exchanged much like coinage. The Spanish introduced the silver coin the ‘teston’ upon their arrival, and the Philippines soon saw a variety of currencies exchanged there, including Mexican pesos and Alfonsino pesos. Eventually the ‘peso fuerte’ (“strong peso”) won out as the standard form of currency. The Spanish colonial period lasted until 1898 when the Philippines gained independence from the Spanish, and it was then that the Philippines began to produce its own coinage and paper currency. Yet, in 1901, the United States took control of the Philippines and introduced the ‘gold peso’, which was pegged at exactly half the value of the American dollar. Then, in 1942, the Japanese introduced government-issued Philippine fiat pesos, which circulated along with Philippine guerilla-style emergency circulating notes until 1945, when the Philippines gained independence from the United States. The Central Bank of the Philippines was established in 1949, and the first banknotes were printed in England while the first coins were minted at the U.S. Bureau of Mint. The late 1960s saw the beginning of the Filipinization of pesos in the Philippines, with Tagalog being the standard language on currency starting in 1967 (hence, ‘piso’) and money being printed in the Security Plant Complex in the Philippines starting in 1978. Since then, various designs of coinage and banknotes have been introduced.


Philippine peso banknotes vary in denominates from 20 pesos to 1000 pesos. The front sides feature prominent people and buildings, along with depictions of major events in the history of the Philippines, while the reverse sides depict landmarks and animals.


Philippine peso coins currently come in seven denominations: 1, 5, 10, and 25 sentimos (1/100 of a peso); and 1, 5, and 10 pesos. Coins feature the value in large print on the obverse, sometimes paired with the profile of a prominent figure. The reverse sides feature the text “Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” sometimes adorned with a decorative border design.