The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the central bank of the Republic of the Philippines, aimed to celebrate its 70th anniversary with the publication of a coffee table book on Philippine history and heritage as seen in Philippine money. Through the years, the BSP had amassed an impressive collection of rare Philippine currency numbering to over 10,000 gold, silver, copper coins and bank notes, some dating back to pre-colonial times. This treasure trove is mounted as a permanent exhibit in the BSP Money Museum.
Although the Money Museum is open to the general public daily, the BSP wanted to make the collection more available to a wider target market.
Thus was born YAMAN (History and Heritage in Philippine Money), the first ever on this significant collection. YAMAN ("wealth, riches, treasure” in Pilipino), aimed to be a rich resource on the evolution of Philippine currency, side by side with the colorful history and rich heritage of the country. The book was not meant to be an exhaustive catalogue on every known coin or banknote that existed in the Philippines from the nineteenth century. Neither was it meant to be a complete book on Philippine history. Rather, it was intended to narrate the stories and contexts that have led to the present New Generation Currency which is a proud expression of national identity, making it figuratively and literally the “Wealth of the Nation.”
The 400-page book was purposed to be a gentle reminder to all Filipinos that they carry their country’s precious history inside their pockets.
YAMAN (History and Heritage in Philippine Money) is a regaling tale of Philippine history as told by the evolution of Philippine money. A numismatic scholar-writer divided the book content into several eras and developed the story thus: barter, gold, silver, paper and paper-less currency. Box stories included the Boxer Codex, the first known 18th century colored illustrations of gold adornments worn by Filipino royalty before the arrival of the Spaniards, and a “visit” to the BSP Security Plant where coinage is minted and bank notes are monetized and printed.
The dynamic duo of design and photography leads the story telling. Dramatic photography of coins on rough surfaces (stone, slate, leather, sand, among others) highlights the beauty of the engraving on the obverse and reverse sides. Two-page spreads with unusual photographic treatment are strategically positioned within the 400-page tome as a breather to break the scholarly dissertation. Close-ups give serious numismatics the opportunity and delight to identify individual characteristics, security marks and intricate designs on coins and bank notes.
Cover of the book features a pair of rough hands gently cupping different rare coins from different periods. The message conveys that no matter what one’s economic station in life is, due respect must be given to these legal tender at all times, for they are bearers of vignettes of the Philippines’ quest for freedom, and represent our nation’s identity.
Overall design treatment transforms an otherwise ordinary subject matter into a visual feast that marries the glint of gold, silver and copper with the quiet elegance of paper money that is embedded with Philippine abaca fibers (Banana plant native to the Philippines) as one of its important security marks.
BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno was highly impressed that a major publication such as YAMAN (History and Heritage in Philippine Money) was completed in record time (8 months) and during a challenging time in the country. From start to completion, the book team worked from home, weathered the difficulties caused by the lock-downs, and met regularly via Zoom, a digital platform for virtual meetings in real time via computers or mobile phones. The team also gamely abided by the BSP precautionary protocol of submitting to swab tests every 10 days for photo shoots in the Money Musuem and the BSP Security Plant.
When Yaman was posted on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to announce its availability, the BSP Money Museum was beset with a deluge of orders from institutions and schools, numismatists, book collectors and lovers of history.
YAMAN (History and Heritage in Philippine Money) was launched on May 12,2021,
A reprint is already being discussed in anticipation of the clamor for the book, and a new book on the BSP painting collection is in the offing.
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