Fun Fact: In the Philippines during WWII loyal civilian and military forces made emergency/guerilla currency. If the Japanese, who occupied the islands for a time, found you in possession of these notes, they most likely would torture or kill you.


OK so this is not the happiest note to start off the blog today, but it is a fact. However, let’s back up a bit. Spain ceded the islands of the Philippines to the US at the end of the Spanish-American War, and the US paid $20 million dollars to Spain for it. From 1898-1946 it was a US territorial possession in some form or another. But, and it is a big but, from October 1943- August 1945 it was occupied by Japan and was the site of many infamous war crimes. In fact, the largest naval battle ever (Battle of Leyte Gulf) took place off its shores and culminated in its liberation from Japanese occupation.


So resistance fighters and local /civilian officials created and used this guerrilla currency to pay for supplies. There was no one governing body that gave authority to these bills, but Gen. MacArtur headquarters knew of and authorized their use. As they were all made covertly, as you might imagine, they range from well crafted to crude and illegible.  Typewriters, wooden blocks, tires, metal plates and duplicating machines were just some of the methods used. Paper, ink, and size varied as well.

Municipal v. Provincial Issue

This is the main way collectors break up the notes.


Notes issued for small change needed to conduct commerce were municipal issues. They were not redeemable after the war and were created due to the necessity of commerce.


President Quezon authorized the creation of Provincial Emergency Currency Boards. They had the power to print and issue bills. The created the majority of bills and were redeemable after the war.


Although the volume of currency available is not large and would technically fall into the “scarce” realm for some issues, we have found the pieces, surprisingly enough, do not sell for vast amounts. If you wanted to fill out your collection, it may take time, but would not break the bank. A great resource for information on the notes is Neil Shafer’s Philippine Emergency and Guerrilla Currency of World War II.