As I was queuing this morning to withdraw from a Landbank ATM machine near our office, I noticed a new poster hanging on the transparent glass wall of the bank informing clients of the new sets of bank notes issued by the Bangko Sentral.
I was fascinated by the vibrant colors of the new bills which, someone told me, have won an international award for design. The bills reminded me of similar notes in Singapore also sporting flashy colors, although using a different texture. However, as I scanned the faces of those important people on the new notes, I was surprised that Jose Rizal was not among them. How could I forget that Rizal was the face of the one-peso coin?
Looking back when I was still very young, I would always be amused when someone gave me a big one-peso coin. I always took the time to study its details. The design was very simple. The coin would almost cover my whole little palm, which gave much delight since I knew I could buy lots of candies with it.
Now the face of Rizal has been slowly shrinking in size with the sliding of the peso’s value. Gone are those days when I can be proud that I have a one peso coin in my pocket. Now they are almost equivalent to any spare metal kept in one’s purse. No one would mind if he loses a single peso.
This economic reality coincides with the slowly diminishing awareness of the people on the sacrifices made by this great Filipino and Malay. The peso together with his monuments on almost every plaza in the Philippines, for most Filipinos, are just symbols of the past, whose meaning does not matter anymore.
The Filipinos’ appetite for constant change pushed by contemporary modernism and commercialism would someday totally place the names and image of Rizal to oblivion. I fear that his face someday will completely disappear from our coins.