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Curious about how old bills and coins look like? Or how our grannies paid for the stuff they bought back in the days? If you're a numismatist, a collector of coins or paper money, or if you’re simply interested to learn about money and how it evolved through the years, then the BPI Museum and Library is just the right place for you.

BPI Museum and Library
BPI Museum and Library. All photos in this article are taken from TheVisualTraveler.net

Launched in 2011, the museum and library showcase a rich collection of old coins and bills, the first official currency of the Philippines more than a century ago. In a way, it is a celebration of Filipino culture set on the grounds of the Queen City of the South. Cebu plays a notable role in BPI's history as it became home to the bank’s third branch in 1924 after Iloilo and Zamboanga.

Since it opened, this museum and library have been part of BPI’s efforts to promote financial education and inclusion for every Filipino. They also highlight BPI’s 167-year history as the first bank in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.

So here’s why you should take that museum tour or library visit:
1.      On display at the museum are gold coins that started circulation in 1861, 10 years after the establishment of El Banco Español Filipino de Isabel II, which we know today as BPI.

BPI Museum and Library


2.      The museum also carries the first ever Philippine banknotes issued by BPI on May 1, 1852. These were the first banknotes in the country and even in Southeast Asia. At that time, they could be redeemed for gold or silver Mexican coins.

BPI Museum and Library


3.      There is a collection of coins of varying denominations from the last 50 years of Spanish rule: 10 cents, 20 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, 5 pesos.

4.      There are coins issued during the reign of King Ferdinand VII counter-stamped with “Y II” for Isabel II, his daughter and the only female monarch of Spain in modern times.

5.      The museum also has a leather-bound bank journal from 1855. The escribientes or writing clerks who wrote on this journal had to be trained to do the task using the accepted script.

6.      There are banknotes from 1904 in six denominations and with the text in Spanish: cinco (5), diez (10), veinte (20), cincuenta (50), cien (100), dos cientos (200).

7.      Government-issued coins from 1903 to 1908 that were designed by Melecio Figueroa. They were the signature coins of the American colonial period.

BPI Museum and Library


8.      You’ll find the book that details the bank’s purchase of the corner lot where the BPI building now stands along Magallanes and P. Burgos streets. The Bank bought the lot from the Augustinian friars for only P65,610.

9.      The library itself is an architectural landmark, a neo-classical building designed by noted architect Juan Arellano. The high ceilings and tall glass windows serve as a repository for shelves of reference books on economics, finance, management, and trade, including a section especially dedicated to Cebu culture and a designated reading area for children.

10.   The BPI library’s concept and design were patterned after the Filipinas Heritage Library, with access to the University of San Carlos' vast library system. It has become a valuable, unparalleled resource for Cebu's current and future business leaders, and it serves as a venue for regular workshops for topics related to business and finance.

So take a trip back at the BPI museum and library and discover some of the country’s best-kept treasures.

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