MANILA, DECEMBER 20, 2010 (TRIBUNE) Errors are proving to be a hallmark under President Aquino.

After the tourism slogan debacle that resulted in the resignation of a key Department of Tourism official, now comes geographically-challenged Philippine maps and a rare parrot with the wrong-colored beak that were among glaring errors in new editions of peso bills that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas recently rolled out.

The new-generation bank notes, rolled out earlier this month and containing the signature of President Aquino who took office this year, bombed spectacularly in the graphics department, critics said.

The reverse side of the new P500 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 United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (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 kilometres and Batanes is not on the map. I believe they also misplaced Saint Paul’s subterranean river,” he told Agence France Presse (AFP) by e-mail.

Printed on the P1,000 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Avril del Rosario, a Manila lawyer, said the mistakes echoed a re-branding campaign by the tourism ministry that was withdrawn last month amid charges that its slogan was forgettable, it plagiarised Poland’s campaign and the URL of its website was close to that of a pornographic site.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.

BSP spokesman Fe de la Cruz acknowledged the criticism, but said space constraints limited the artist’s room for maneuver.

“In choosing the design..., we are always guided by our commitment to enrich the appreciation and knowledge of the Filipinos we honour 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.

“Nevertheless, we appreciate constructive comments and we will take these into account moving forward.”

It was not the first time the BSP 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.

The bill, which called her Gloria Arrovo, became a much sought-after collectors’ item.

Aquino earlier expressed his dissatisfaction with the proposed tourism slogan ‘Pilipinas kay Ganda’ saying the ”stakeholders themselves were not happy about it after he himself built up the launch of the tourism campaign during his visit in Japan last November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit.

“Maybe we do not have to fine tune the slogan but look for something more appropriate. There was an old slogan, though still acceptable to many, but I tasked Tourism Secretary Bert Lim to fix it and find a new one based on the blue print of the tourism program and I will review all the details,” Aquino told reporters.

The BSP presented to Aquino the new generation bank notes last Dec. 15 and expected the bills to be available before the year ends.

The new bank notes have the same color of their respective denomination but have new designs.

One side of the new P20 bill will still have the portrait of former President Manuel Quezon but will have the insignia of the Republic of the Philippines and the new logo of the BSP. All new generation notes will have one side featuring the photo of the featured personality alongside the two logos.

On the other side, the picture of the Malacanang Palace was changed with the picture of the world famous’ Banaue Rice Terraces, which was declared by the United Nations (UN) as a World Heritage Site; a photo of the palm civets famous for producing one of the world’s most expensive coffee varieties – Alamid Coffee; and a weave design from the Cordilleras.

The P50 bill still have the photo of former President Sergio Osmeña on one side and the landmark monument known as the “Leyte Landing.”

The other side features the Taal Lake, the Giant Trevally locally known as “Maliputo”, and embroidery handcrafted in the province of Batangas.

The new P100 billion retains the portrait of former President Manuel Roxas, the Republic’s and the BSP’s logo, a photo of the inauguration of the third Republic in July 4, 1946, and 1949 photo of the Central Bank of the Philippines, the charter of which was among the priority bills of Roxas during his stint in the House of Representatives.

On the other side is another world-famous landmark – the Mayon Volcano in Legaspi City, Albay; the world’s largest fish – whale shark locally known as “butanding”, which is the main attraction of Donsol, Sorsogon; and a detail from a design from an indigenous textile famous in the region – Abaca.

The P200 bill will have the Barasoain Church and a conspicuously smaller oath-taking scene of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the sides of the portrait of Arroyo’s father former President Diosdado Macapagal and the logo of the Republic and the BSP.

Its other side features Bohol’s famous Chocolate Hills, the world’s smallest primates – the Tarsier; and a highlight of a design handcrafted in the Visayas region.

A major change was made in the P500 bill, which now feature the portrait of former President Corazon Aquino beside the photo of his now smiling husband - former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. It also features the Benigno Aquino Monument on the same side.

The other side has the eight-kilometer Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park of Palawan, the rare Blue-naped Parrot found in the forests of Palawan and Mindoro, and a design highlight of a woven cloth from Southern Philippines.

The P1000 bill still has the three personalities – former Supreme Court Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos; social worker, educator, women’s right advocate and Girl Scout of the Philippines founder Josefa Llanes Escoda; and first Filipino West Point graduate and former Philippine Army Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Vicente Lim.

Their portraits have a photo of the 1998 Philippine independence centennial celebration on the left side of the money and a photo of medal of honor at the right side. The Republic’s insignia and the BSP’s logo are also on the same side with the portraits.

The other side of the bill has a photo of the largest pearls in the world – the South Sea Pearl at the center and at the background is the 130,000-hectare Tubbataha Reef Marine Park in Sulu Sea. At the right side of the money is a highlight of the design for Tinalak or Ikat-dyed abaca, which is woven in Mindanao.

Tetangco said the new generation notes will be released this month but declined to say which denomination would be released first.

He said they are still waiting for the first tranche and they will release it as soon as these are delivered.

“We hope to release all denominations as soon as possible. Printing is continuing,” he said.

The central bank chief said the existing currencies will still be legal tenders in three to four years to allow for the transition and phase out of the old ones. AFP

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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