Barya, please
(The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2018 - 12:00am

The Bangkok Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has released posters and a brochure on “The Philippine New Generation Currency Coin Series” to explain the features of the six new coins – P10, P5, P1 and 25, 5 and 1 centavo. There have been growing complaints that it is very difficult to distinguish the new coins one from the other, and I’m glad the BSP has taken the effort to address the confusion.

Unfortunately, the colorful poster and brochure do not go very far in helping the public sort out their loose change. The poster details the specifics of the coin designs, what is on the obverse and reverse of each coin, what the edges are like, the mint marks and BSP microprint… Yes, it’s Mabini on the P10 coin, Bonifacio on the P5 and Rizal on the P1, but all three coins are of the same color and almost the same size – 27, 25 and 23 millimeters, respectively. When you’re fishing out change to pay the jeepney driver or the tindera is giving you sukli for the half-kilo of kamatis you bought, are you really expected to scrutinize whether you’re handling Apolinario, Andres or Jose, and be able to spot the two-mm – do you realize how small that is? – difference among the coins? Yes, the denominations are there, but it’s tone-on-tone so not that easily distinguishable, especially for people with poor eyesight (which is most of the folks I know!).

But having registered my complaints – yes, I have on several occasions given the wrong coins in payment (“Kulang pa pong apat na piso, kasi piso itong binigay nyo, di po limang piso”) let me say I do like the flowers on the reverse sides of the coins – kapa-kapa, tayabak, waling-waling, katmon, kapal-kapal baging and mangkono. I’m familiar with only three of the six, so I appreciate their putting a color photo of the actual flower in the brochure. Yes, I went over the brochure carefully, so now aside from the features of the coins, I know the members of the Monetary Board and the deputy governors, and that the BSP has quite a few branches and regional offices.

All that doesn’t really help me with the new coins – thank goodness the old coins are still in circulation! – but here’s a final bit of info: you can call the BSP Currency Issue and Integrity Office at 988-4834, email them at ciiohelpdesk@bsp.gov.ph or go to their Facebook and Twitter accounts (@BangkoSentral) for your concerns.

* * *

PAGASA may not yet have declared the official start of summer – when the northeasterlies give way to the southwesterlies, or the amihan to the habagat, the warm winds from the Pacific taking over from the cooler winds from Siberia and thereabouts – but it is set to do so any day now. Soon the sun will be blazingly hot, when just the thought of going out starts you sweating and to look out the window at the sun will make your eyes hurt. But summer is a wonderful time, and let me share what St. Francis od Assisi said: A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.

BANGKOK SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS
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