The Proposed P500 Cory-Ninoy Peso Bill (a peek behind the scenes)

The unofficial (but very popular) proposed design of the P500 bill

A day Pres. Corazon Aquino passed away last Aug. 1, a website ( was put up on the web by a very young graphic designer. Within a week, the site got more than 20,000 hits, the idea of the couple on one yellow bill caught the attention of the newspapers, became the talk of social networking sites, landed on a Facebook page and snowballed. The graphic designer was Rev Naval.

At about the same time, a former Cabinet Secretary, who happens to be a good friend, stumbled on the same idea, proposed it to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and got positive feedback that it was going to be considered in the next redesign of the Philippine currency. This person was former Energy Secretary Vincent S. Perez.

Vince Perez(taken from

At the recent Manila Design Week, I sought Rev Naval out, borne out of a curiosity and desire to meet the guy behind the popular P500 design. He graciously spoke with me for a short while then gifted me with a facsimile of his P500 bill.

On the other hand, I caught Vince enroute to South Korea and asked if he could relate how he brought his idea to the BSP. Luck of lucks, both guys agreed to share their thoughts with me so here it is:

VINCE PEREZ’S ACCOUNT (in his own words as recounted to me)

On Sunday afternoon, August 2, I was watching the TV featuring the funeral wake at La Salle, and was overwhelmed emotionally at the outpouring of spontaneous affection at Cory Aquino.

I mentally was wondering how it would be best to honor Cory –  a national holiday for her may not be as special given we have a August 21 holiday for Ninoy Aquino and we already have a EDSA holiday in January.   Somehow having a special peso bill featuring Cory Aquino, with a currency note featured in yellow color, seemed like a good idea to immortalize the legacy of Cory, long after the funeral.

I had missed the entire EDSA revolution in 1986, having been in Pittsburgh during that time.   For me, the funeral event was like a catch-up for me who had missed the historic events of 1986.

That was when I posted a question on Facebook.  (posted Aug. 2, 2009 on Facebook).

I was pleasantly surprised with the numerous comments I received on my FB update, including from you.   A Scottish banker friend based in Singapore, Robert McGregor, suggested on my FB profile that we could combine the image of Cory and that of Ninoy on the P500 peso bill.   So my original idea of a separate peso bill for Cory was morphed into a Cory Ninoy P500 peso bill, all from FB.

By 530pm Sunday afternoon, I sent a text to BSP Gov Say Tetangco “Hi Governor Say – What do you think of the idea of BSP issuing bank notes in yellow color featuring a picture of Cory Aquino on the currency bill?  Might be a wonderful idea.”

I sent similar text messages to Finance Secretary Gary Teves.   Sec Teves replied immediately and agreed it was a good idea, and suggested that I take it up with the Monetary Board.

So I sent a similar text message to Monetary Board member Toting Bunye.  He replied that evening that he would suggest it to the Monetary Board.

By the following Monday afternoon, Gov Say Tetangco replied to my text message and said he would look into it.

On Tuesday evening, I attended a diplomatic dinner, and Philippine Star publisher Babe Romualdez was there.  I mentioned to him in passing my proposal for the Cory Ninoy P500 peso bill.   He replied it was a good idea.

Unbeknownst to me. Babe Romualdez wrote about my idea in his Philippine Star column on Thursday, August 6.   Apparently, someone at the Monetary Board read it and texted him that they are considering it.   I know that typically, the Monetary Board meets every Thursday, and the decision makers were probably all in attendance, and I am guessing they took up my proposal of a Cory Ninoy peso bill.

By Friday, it was the headline story on the Inquirer, quoting Gov Tetangco.   I was not aware of the front page story, except when I checked my Facebook early Friday morning, Kathleen Burkhalter had already read it from the US and forwarded the online story to me and that was how I found out about it.

Having read the article, I learned that Ambeth Ocampo of the National Historical Commission is a member of the numismatic committee that designs our currency bills.  So I sent him on Friday a message on Facebook about my proposal.   So the rest is history.

A funny anecdote is that on Friday, I was flying to Cebu on board a Cebu Pacific flight to speak at a investment seminar.   I am sure you know by now that on board Cebu Pacific flights, the flight attendants conduct a brief raffle contest for passengers who can first produce certain items that they would call out.

For some strange reason, I had an inkling that they may ask for a picture of either Cory or Ninoy.  So I pulled out my lucky P500 peso bill out of wallet, and placed it conveniently in my chest pocket.

Lo and behold, the flight attendants called if anyone can produce a picture of Ninoy Aquino.  Within a split second, I raised and waived my lucky P500 peso bill!   I won the raffle prize – and it was a yellow wallet!

Why was the peso bill significant to me?

One sunny day a few years ago, I was scuba diving in El Nido Palawan.  My attention was drawn to what I thought was a shiny yellow fish on the bottom of a coral reef, which intrigued me.   So I swam down to take a closer look at this colorful yellow fish.   When I was a feet or two away, when I looked closer at the yellow fish, I was taken aback when I saw the image of the face of Ninoy Aquino!   It was not a yellow fish after all, it was a P500 peso bill.

I carefully retrieved the soaking wet P500 peso bill and brought it up to the surface.   I let it dry, and it even had a few fish bites already.  It might have been dropped accidentally by a fisherman.   I kept the P500 peso bill in my wallet, and I felt it has been a lucky bill for me ever since.   The “fishy” P500 bill is still in my wallet to this day.

As I write you this story, I just concluded here in Seoul this evening a successful closing for an investment in my Alternergy renewable power company,  During the entire signing ceremony, my new yellow wallet with my lucky P500 peso bill was nicely tucked inside my vest pocket!

What a wonderfully awesome story, Vince! Now on to the next guy…


His full name is Revo Crisostomo Naval and yes, his parents gave him that name as he was born in 1987, during the peaceful EDSA 1 revolution.

Rev said that he has always been fascinated by Pres. Cory: “I’ve been following Cory since the day I knew her, like the day my parents told me about her, like they always tell me, “Rev, kaya ka Revo kasi sa Edsa People Power Revolution”, thats why when I was still a kid, I really treasure her for her being so great for our country, just like how i was (taught) in school and at home.”

Since he found out that she was sick, Rev felt he had to do something for her as a personal tribute and also as something he would always treasure. So, while watching her wake and the funeral, he began working on the P500 bill’s design. He strongly felt that putting her beside Ninoy was truly appropriate as they “deserve to be together forever”.

It took him only 2-3 hours to do the design, including his website ( which got more than 20,000 hits in its first week.

Rev started out as a designer for Styles entertainment, then a paparazzi party photographer for Embassy at the Fort. He is currently Art Director for Status Magazine.

Rev ends with these words:  “I’m very thankful to the participation of the youth, (because) this artwork spread out in Twitter and Facebook then to all the top bloggers in our country, thankful to the 20k people I’ve gathered all over 50 countries all over the world, and pay tribute to tita Cory by reposting the artwork. It simply shows us that our country can be united again, whatever it takes, we can do it!”

I truly hope that this idea is adopted by the BSP as it is supported by a majority of the Filipino people. It is a tribute befitting a well-loved President and moral leader.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

    Sep 08, 2009 @ 14:31:51

    awwww Ms Jane! =] Mabuhay ka!


  2. Viper
    Oct 11, 2009 @ 20:16:38

    Hey Jane – I just read your article about the P500 peso bill! Thanks for featuring me and Revo on your blog!


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