Even More Problems on the New Peso Banknotes’ Philippine Map

1:21 am PHT

Would you believe that the missing Batanes, and the misplaced markers for the Tubbataha Reefs and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River are not the only problems with the map of the Philippines found on the new peso banknotes?

I have had the chance to see the new 20-peso and the 50-peso bills up close over the past few weeks. Well, I was even more dismayed to see a few more errors and omissions in the depiction of the Philippine map.

Shown above to the left is the Philippine map as it looks like on the reverse side of the 1000-peso bill. To the right is the actual silhouette of the archipelago (minus Batanes for better comparison). The major error that I spotted is the wrong shape of Panay (that triangular island in the middle). Apparently, the BSP did a massive land reclamation project along the western coast of Antique such that the northwestern peninsula of Panay is no longer a peninsula. If you have a new peso bill with you, look at that new coastline closely and you can see an impossibly straight line which made me believe that this was an unintentional error (some tracer must’ve gotten a bit lazy).

In addition, like the missing islands of Batanes, I also find it a bit problematic that there are no lakes depicted on the map. At the scale that the Philippine map was printed, the lakes of Laguna de Bay, Taal Lake, and Lake Lanao should be quite visible. I also think that Lake Mainit in Surigao and Lake Naujan in Mindoro should also be seen. The BSP was able to include lots of tiny islands (many of which are smaller than Laguna de Bay) but no lakes? The BSP is able to include plenty of microprinting but no inland waters?

Responding to earlier criticism, the BSP has said that “for our banknotes we used an artist’s rendition of the Philippine map that by virtue of space and aesthetics does not reflect all of our islands and the precise coordinates of each site” and that “they are abstractions of reality”. Those are flimsy excuses. The problem is that the printed map does actually depict the Philippines quite accurately which only implies that the design team really meant to show a “cartographic” map instead of an “artistic” map. And since the map is cartographic, any error or omission is quite glaring. Thus the slew of criticisms. If the designers showed a simplified and stylized map of the country, I doubt that anybody would seriously find fault with it.

Many people might dismiss those people who point out errors on the maps, the scientific names, and the parrot colors as a bunch of nitpickers. They say that most Filipinos would not notice these mistakes that only experts would spot. They will also say that there are bigger problems that we should tackle. Well, I’ll leave it to you to agree with them or not, but in response to those counter-criticisms, my friend said it best:

Banknotes are the lifeblood of our modern economy. It is the most visible legal transaction every person (in the modern economy) [engages] with on a daily basis. The designs of banknotes are reflections of our culture and heritage as a Nation.

Kung sa design ng pera mali-mali tayo, eh paano pa sa ibang legal transactions?

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On 6:20 p.m., 14 Jan 2011, jd wrote:

I think the main feature of a banknote should be security. As long as it’s respectable and counterfeit proof, then it’s ok. If one needs an accurate map of the country, he should look at a map and not a paper bill. Regarding economy, foreign investors would likely complain more about corruption and taxation rather than the things in a paper bill


On 5:42 p.m., 23 Jan 2011, seav wrote:

@jd, yes, security is always a must when designing currency and yes, there are more important thing to tackle like corruption. But I believe that they should have gone above and beyond what is expected of them.

It’s an extremely simple matter to have let geography experts look at the map and biologists look at the zoology info. That they seem to have not done so implies a “puwede na” mentality that is one reason why corruption is rampant.

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