Philippine Currency = The Flawed Centavo System

Excuse my recent absence people, I’ve been busy prepping for future articles by going out taking pictures of the Philippine public that is relative to my next upcoming topics.  Well, being out in the general public it’s quite common to conduct a little shopping.  Like with any amount of shopping, there is monetary transactions involved.

Lately while shopping for my weekly groceries at my local HyperMarket.  My total transaction had rang up to an amount of 2,712.28.  I’m never the type to keep coins on me, but luckily since eating prior to shopping, I was able to fork over 2,712 pesos.  After the cashier counted the money slower than a 3rd grader, she stingy enough to ask me if I had 28 centavos.

philippine coinsOK!  I never carry change that cheap on me, but since my wife usually rides those beat-up jeepneys, I figured she would have a few centavos on her being that the fare is 8.50 while traveling short distance.  She gave me a 25 centavo coin (well, the coin says “Sentimo,’ so I don’t know why the fuck they still call it ‘centavo’ or ‘cents’ – like my currency).

I presented her the 25 centavo coin, and this must’ve been the cashier’s worst fuckin day ever or she probably just got on her period, but she had the audacity to ask for 3 more cents.  And yeah, this time she actually did say ‘cents.’  I never knew that denominations in the centavo coin can actually get THAT LOW!  The ONE PESO is already worthless enough, so what the fuck can you possibly get with ONE centavo?  Not even a beggar would settle for that!

After telling her I didn’t have it, she let it slide, and I got away with paying only 2,712.25php.  I visited the gift shop which was near the register to buy a birthday card for a friend’s upcoming birthday which cost 39.50php.  I paid it with 40 pesos, and I got a bunch of 5 and 10 centavos adding up to 50 centavos for change.  I went on over to that idiot cashier, dropped off a 5 centavo coin, I exchanged an evil grin with her confused ‘blank stare,’ and went my merry way back home.

I know this topic is extremely petty since talking about a coin which is hardly even worth chicken-feed.  But seriously people, don’t you think there should even be a centavo/sentimo/cents system in the Philippines in the first place?  Do you think it’s stupid to pay a bill, and they ask for a denomination of money that is not even existent?  Yeah, I google-searched the 1 centavo, and it does exist, but I NEVER see it being passed around.

In my honest opinion, if they wanna keep the centavo, they should’ve just broken it down to 25 centavos as their lowest denomination, because you can’t get anything in Philippines for anything lower than that.  Markets shouldn’t be pricing items to where you are paying (for an example) 350.07 centavos.  It’s much better to just keep it simple and eliminate the centavo system, or price items at a currently existing denomination of currency.

Published in Filipino Customer Service


  1. Profile gravatar of heyjoe

    It does seem ridiculous to price things that way. Then what are you suppose to do with those 5 and 10 centavo coins? If you actually tried to save them up and then pay for a large purchass with those small coins no one would probably accept them anyway. Whenever they give me those things with my change I just leave them laying on the counter. I do remember years ago when I first came here you could buy things for 5 or 10 centavos but that disappeared a long time ago. Kind of like the penny in the States. It cost more for the Govt. to make them then they are worth. Time to do away with those useless things.

  2. Profile gravatar of Captain PFB
    Captain PFB

    Well, big corporations like SM and such price things that way because there are formulas for profit, and if companies don’t make a profit, they don’t stay in business. When you are a big nationwide company with 100’s or 1000’s of stores, an item underpriced by a centavo can hurt them. When you’re mass-selling an item for p128.29, that .29 multiplied by 100,000 equals 29,000, the salary for several stock boys.

    Big retailers price things that way because they want to remain competitive, yet they have to cover their overhead, which is certainly part of the pricing formula.

    That’s not hard to figure out.

    But as it pertains to Philippines and the brain-dead Filipina cashiers, I can’t tell you how many times they short change ME. If your total change is supposed to be p126.44, 6 times out of 10, the cashier will only give me p126.00, and I can see in the cash register drawer piles of small centavo coins. Those fucking thieves know how many customers they check out each day, so multiply that by, lets say, 100, that’s p44 in their pocket. now multiply that by 6 days. That’s p264 in their pocket. Now multiply that by 4 weeks. That’s p1056 they have increased their monthly income by. And to those low paid people, that is a lot of money.

    When they reconcile their cash drawer each day, they submit what the cash register recorded, and certainly they keep the overage.

    But boy oh boy, when you try to get away with giving them p256.00 for a p256.27 total, they are NOT going to let it slide!

    But I never let their shortchanging attempts slide on me. I always give them a taste of their own medicine “Ma’am, I see you have a pile of centavos in your drawer, why did you short change me? You’re a FUCKING CASHIER!!! DO YOUR FUCKING JOB!!!!” When it comes to collecting money, that’s their job, and if their til is short, they will be blamed or will have to make it right out of their pocket. That’s really the only thing about their job that any Filipino knows well, the parts that will negatively affect them. When it comes to negatively affecting others, that part of their job is really of no concern to them.

    1. Profile gravatar of FAFI
      FAFI Post author

      Excellent point Filo and I see exactly what you are saying. I understand that all major markets wants to make a profit and earn that EXTRA centavo per bundle being sold. The thing that I am getting at is why don’t they they just eliminate the lower denomination of centavos? Especially to the point where you need the “1” centavo coin to pay the p128.29 as in your example. I mean, nobody will ever have exact change to pay that? I am saying that, why don’t they just make the price p128.30 so we can forget about the ‘1 centavo’ coin? No one is going to pay that 29 centavos with a ’25’ and 4 ‘1 centavo’ coins. Why not just make it a ’25’ and ‘5’ centavo coin? Better yet, skip the 5s and just keep it at 128.25? And if that isn’t profit enough, they can just keep raising the price at increments of .25 cents. So make it 128.50? That will eliminate the need for us to keep petty change on us.

      It’s like what heyjoe said, you can’t buy anything with the 5 and 10 cent coins anymore, and it’s probably only costing their government more money to make them, than they are actually worth. But I do love what the other hey-joe said, they would be excellent washers. I will keep that in mind! LOL

      I was thinking about making a 5 centavo necklace out of them one day if I collected enough. I have a jar full of centavos, just waiting to fill it up and exchange it at the bank, but I will keep the 5s 🙂

      1. Profile gravatar of Captain PFB
        Captain PFB

        Why do you need exact change? Give them over and IT IS UP TO THEM TO GIVE YOU PROPER CHANGE BACK. ESPECIALLY when it’s a big store chain. Christ Almighty!

        And I explained, prices are set by a formula. They want to keep their price as low and competitive as possible, but still be able to make the profit needed to stay in business.

        With Filipinos, if they can save 20 pesos by shopping at a store where the items they need are 3 centavos cheaper, they will go to that store, because with 50 items, and each of those items are a few centavos cheaper, they will save several pesos.

        That is why you have odd centavos prices. It’s not just the “one” item. It’s when you buy 100 items that are 4, 8, or 12 centavos cheaper than their competitors, people will save 40, 50, 100 pesos on their total bill. Get the point?

        Again, don’t worry about having exact change. LET THEM MAKE CHANGE FOR YOU.

      1. Profile gravatar of FAFI
        FAFI Post author

        Round what off? Hahaha! If you were giving them centavos, they would round it up. Lets say it was 56 centavos. They wouldn’t accept 55, they would make you pay 60 instead. But if they were GIVING you change and it was 56, they are NOT nice enough to give you 60, expect them to rip you off by 1 centavo by giving you 55. In some cases to save half a second, they would just give you 50 centavos and fuck you over 6 centavos.

        So to summarize: You give them money = They round up. You give them money = They round down. It’s kinda fucked up, but the amount lost from YOU (as the customer) is so petty and miniscule, they inevitably get away with it every time. I throw away petty change like that half the time anyway, so it’s not my loss! 🙂

  3. Profile gravatar of Hey Joe
    Hey Joe

    I like the “cent” coins. In my shop I have a bin full of them, right next to the screws/nuts & bolts in my hardware cabinet. They make good washers. Can not buy a actual washer in most cases in trade for 5 centavos.
    The hole is about the right size for a sheetrock screw or small machine screw.
    So they are not worthless. As money?? Yes.. worthless waste of time.

  4. Profile gravatar of 30-30

    to all members.
    You have to remember if they scam .25 centavos off every customer,, that is big money at the end of the day.. these scaamming corporations are shady.. GM motors saved 15 dollars by not putting primer on their cars one year, needless after 3 years the cars looked like garbage…

  5. Profile gravatar of 30-30

    the promo air fares are a typical of a SCAMMING FILIPINO………… they should refund the price of the extra add ons like fuel surcharge, government taxes,,,,, etc,, etc,,,,, these add on expenses were not spent,,,, so why not refund them
    it takes .0001 of a second for us to give them money by credit card,,, BUT
    i would like to have the ”training program” that filipino companies use to brainwash these idiots..maybe i can use to get elected in my country..
    shot me dead

    1. Profile gravatar of jm

      Some people tried that in the past, they tried to ship a whole container full of coins to China for scrap. They (Chinese) were caught and went to jail. I can’t remember the actual charge(s) but some had to do with monetary laws.

  6. Profile gravatar of TheD

    FAFI, I’m gonna slap you again. Sorry bro.

    “like my currency”
    The American Cent is from the Spanish Centavo, which the Philippines adopted after the Spanish invasion. In fact the dollar sign $ comes from Sentabo from the Spanish American Pesos (real name “peso de ocho reales” – Pieces of Eight).
    So it is more like your currency than you think.

    It blows my fucking mind how they count the money at the end of the day as they lose centavos on almost every customer. Ive got to the point where I only pay the peso value and ignore the centavos entirely. They never ask for it. If they let you off not paying the centavos, then why the FUCKEDY FUCK do they price things in centavos.
    Yet another example of complete lack of thought, facing issues daily that no one fixes.

    1. Profile gravatar of FAFI
      FAFI Post author

      It’s all good and dandy TheD

      I’ve never had been focused on the history of the Philippine monetary system, nor the one in my own country. Like stated a couple times before, I never claim pride in my own country since I can admit that it’s fucked up in it’s own way (but not as bad as Philippines), therefore I never really gave a shit that the Americans had mimicked of the Spaniards in terms of currency. I consider Spain as a ‘next door neighbor’ since we took turns occupying the Philippines after the Spanish colonization period…… Tag Team Baby!

      Regardless on the origins of the centavo/cent/or whatever the fuck it’s called. 9 times out of 10, there will never be an exchange in the exact amount of centavos to (from) the cashier from (to) the customer. There is ONLY one possible way to pay a centavo balance that is not a multiple of 5 with the exact amount, and that is done by paying with either a debit or credit card. They can’t rob you of a centavo more than the exact amount that way.

      I understand why some things are still priced in centavos, since centavos still poses a value in today’s economy. Xerox businesses and Jeepneys has fees that requires the transaction of pesos almost every time (Riding a Jeepney for 8.50 or getting a photo copy for 50 cents). But I don’t agree with with the centavo being broken down into denominations lower than 50 or 25. What can you get with 10 or 5 centavos in today’s market in Philippines? Nothing Right! It’s absolutely worthless! That’s the main point I’m trying to argue here. Nobody is gonna walk around with a pocket full of 5 and 10 centavo coins, so why even price items that way? If you are gonna price something at 328.48, just save us the fucking headache and just make it 328.50? Even if I did pay them with 328.50 while the item is priced at 328.48, it’s not likely that I will get 2 centavos back as change due to the poor circulation of the 1 centavo coin.

      I can stress further emphasis on this, and I really can. But wasting minutes debating about worthless centavos just isn’t worth my time. If the topic of paper money was brought up, I would debate all day on that! 🙂

      No problem TheD. Either if it’s buddy talk, or contradicting each other to raise a point. We are on still on the same team.

  7. Profile gravatar of Richard aka Dick Head
    Richard aka Dick Head

    Philippine low denomination coins like 25centavos, etc, are plain nuisance. Even the scums on the streets who guide you to park your vehicle have no respect for it. A couple of years ago, I was trying to park my small car in the Ermita/Malate area while a riff-raff was helping me navigate into the very narrow space. I had a about 5 to 10 pesos worth of 25 centavo coins in a small canister along with the bigger denominations. I patiently counted 20 pieces of 25 centavo coins, rolled down my window and plunked down the coins into the open palm of the guy. He looked at the coins, sneered at me, walked away and just threw the coins away. Now this is a true story, believe it or not.