Wildlife photographer Floyd Bermejo hopes the P1,000 polymer banknote, featuring the Philippine eagle, will encourage more efforts in conserving the national bird from extinction.
“Gusto kong ma-i-save natin iyong Philippine Eagle,” Bermejo said on Saturday, April 30, in a statement released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The central bank described the photographer’s portraits as evoking “a sense of gentleness in the formidable creature”.
The endemic eagle, found mainly in Samar, Leyte, Mindanao and Luzon, is considered one of the most powerful birds of prey. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified the Philippine eagle – among the rarest in the world in terms of size, length and wingspan – as critically endangered. Currently, there are about 400 breeding pairs left in the wild.
Bermejo said putting the national bird on the P1,000 banknotes “will promote greater awareness of its conservation, especially since it is endemic to the Philippine forests.”
BSP said the avid birder and conservationist, who was once a bird hunter, is a member of the Robert S. Kennedy Bird Conservancy, a group dedicated to protecting the nation’s birds through the documentation.
Bermejo’s passion for photography “was rooted in childhood memories of hunting birds for food with his father in the mountains of Sipalay, Negros Occidental,” BSP said.
“Nagustuhan ko iyong wildlife photography kasi parang naghu-hunt ka rin. Pero this time you use your camera,” he said.
Bermejo, who has worked with communities that served as habitats for endangered birds, has actively used her photography to advance her conservation advocacy. It was in Davao that he took the now iconic photo of the banknote.
According to the BSP, the prominence of the national bird on the P1,000 polymer banknote “celebrates the diversity of flora and fauna of the country” and “illustrates the strength and love of Filipinos for the freedom as well as independence and BSP’s clear vision to help achieve a stronger and more inclusive economy.
On April 26, the BSP began circulating 10 million initial pieces of polymer banknotes. It will circulate plastic-based money in phases. For the time being, polymer banknotes will only be available at bank counters and not at ATMs.
Waterproof and dirt-repellent polymer banknotes are hygienic and hygienic, and significantly cleaner than paper banknotes. Since it has strong security, the BSP thinks it is harder to counterfeit.
Polymer banknotes are also longer-lived, cost-effective and economical in the long run, and they are environmentally friendly as they are recyclable and have a lower carbon footprint than paper banknotes.
Polymer banknotes are produced by Note Printing Australia, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia. BSP’s limited release will test public acceptance and help BSP assess the validity of the purported benefits of using the polymer.
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