On Monday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) unveiled the new P5,000 commemorative banknote and medal featuring the profile of the Filipino hero Lapu-Lapu. The reveal marks the start of the 99-day countdown leading to the 500th anniversary of the “Victory at Mactan,” where Lapu-Lapu’s forces famously vanquished Portuguese conqueror, Ferdinand Magellan.
“The BSP and NQC have collaborated on this commemorative banknote and medal to celebrate the heroism of Lapu-Lapu and his warriors, and to familiarize the present generation with the country’s rich precolonial history,” Bangko Sentral OIC Francisco Dakila Jr. said during the rites held at Fort San Antonio Abad inside the BSP Complex in Manila.
The commemorative banknote – which netizens have pointed out to be “too large for the average wallet” – features on the obverse side an image of the Battle of Mactan, a portrait of Lapu-Lapu, a Visayan outrigger warship known as the “karakoa,” and the quincentennial logo. The reverse shows an image of the Philippines’ national bird, the Philippine eagle, a coconut tree, the food offered by the citizens of Samar to Magellan’s army upon their arrival, and a Mindanao’s Mount Apo, the location from which Magellan pinpointed their intended destination: Maluku, or Spice Island.
Meanwhile, the medal’s obverse features a rendered image of the Lapu-Lapu Shrine in Cebu, while the reverse shows an image of the Battle of Mactan, with the date of the event “27 April 2021” embossed below it.
How it started vs. how it’s going
This isn’t the first time the hero’s face has appeared on a Filipino currency, though (if you know what we’re talking about, you practically deserve a senior citizen card). Historically speaking, Lapu-Lapu has also been the face of the one-centavo coin in not one, not two, but three design series by the BSP. The first was the Pilipino Series, which was minted from 1967 to 1974, and showed Lapu-Lapu’s left profile on the obverse and the Philippines’ coat of arms in the reverse.
Then, from 1975 to 1982 Lapu-Lapu turned and faced towards the right in the Ang Bagong Lipunan series. This is also the only coin that featured a square design then.
Finally, it switched back to a circle figure for the Flora and Fauna series which was minted from 1983 to 1993. Lapu-Lapu also shifted back to looking towards the left.
Starting from the one-centavo coin and ending up in the P5,000-bill is certainly a huge leap for our OG hero Lapu-Lapu. Hopefully, the big banknote is just commemorative and won’t be released as part of banks’ regular circulation – not until they print a smaller one.