Philippines in uproar over error-filled peso bills
MANILA – Geographically-challenged Philippine maps and a rare parrot with the wrong-colored beak have perturbed the country after the central bank rolled out error-filled new editions of its peso bills.
The new-generation banknotes, rolled out earlier this month and containing the signature of President Benigno Aquino who took office this year, bombed spectacularly in the graphics department, critics say.
The reverse side of the new 500-peso bill features a rare native bird, the blue-naped parrot, with its red beak incorrectly rendered in yellow and the tail feathers underneath colored green instead of yellow.
A map on the bill, which also carries portraits of Aquino's late parents – mislocates Saint Paul's, a subterranean river that is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
"Yes, they have made a very big booboo on the parrot," said Jon Villasper, a cartographer who is also a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.
"Aside from that, they misplaced Tubbataha reef by around 400 kilometers and Batanes is not on the map. I believe they also misplaced Saint Paul’s subterranean river," he told AFP by email.
Printed on the 1,000-peso bill is a map locating the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, another prized Philippine UNESCO world heritage site, on or near Malaysian territorial waters.
The map of the Philippines which features on six different bills re-draws the country's territory to place its northern limit 150 kilometers south of the actual line and exclude the Batanes island group.
Ghelynne Avril del Rosario, a Manila lawyer, said the mistakes echoed a re-branding campaign by the tourism ministry that was withdrawn last month amid charges that its slogan was forgettable, it plagiarised Poland's campaign and the URL of its website was close to that of a pornographic site.
Like the campaign, the bills are now fodder for ridicule on Internet social networking sites, Rosario told AFP.
"Just like scrapping the 'Pilipinas Kay Ganda (Philippines What a Beauty) slogan, let's scrap the new peso notes as well!" she said.
Central bank spokeswoman Fe de la Cruz acknowledged the criticism, but said space constraints limited the artist's room for manoeuvre.
"In choosing the design..., we are always guided by our commitment to enrich the appreciation and knowledge of the Filipinos we honor on our banknotes, as well as the unique sites and species our country should be proud of," she said.
"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," she told AFP.
"Nevetheless, we appreciate constructive comments and we will take these into account moving forward."
It was not the first time the central bank has been left red-faced over currency design. It was forced in 2005 to withdraw bills that misspelled the name of Gloria Arroyo, Aquino's predecessor as president. (Agence France-Presse)