Philippine Coins: 1970 1 Piso Pope Paul VI Commemorative Coin
For the first time in Philippine history, a Pope visits the country. Pope Paul VI was in the Philippines from November 27 to December 3, 1970 for a state visit.
The same year, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas released a commemorative coin. It was minted on nickel and silver, but has only one design.
1970 1 PISO POPE PAUL VI COMMEMORATIVE
“PANGULO NG PILIPINAS”
(PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES)
Bust of Ferdinand E. Marcos
“FERDINAND E. MARCOS”
Diameter: 38.3 mm
Weight: 23.60 g (26.45 g for the silver coin)
The design was simple. There are no striking elements to the coin. It would have been nice to have Pope Paul VI’s insignia on the reverse rather than the bust of President Marcos.
Trivia about Pope Paul’s Visit
- Upon his arrival at Manila International Airport on November 27, 1970, a Bolivian surrealist painter by the name of Benjamin Mendoza y Amor tried to assassinate the pope with a 13-inch dagger. This was the first assassination attempt on a pope in modern times.
- It was reported that Pope Paul VI was unharmed during the attempted assassination. He went on with his schedule as if nothing happened, but it was revealed in 1979, after the pope’s death, that he was wounded in the chest. Vatican kept it a secret while the pope was still alive.
- President Marcos allegedly stopped the attacker and saved the pope. The UPI (United Press International) also reported that Mendoza, the Bolivian attacker, later signed a statement claiming it was Marcos who stopped him. However, many dispute this account saying it was meant to raise the leader’s popularity.
- The attacker, Mendoza, was disguised as a priest. He shouted, “death to superstition”, before he was stopped and arrested by police. He was deported and served 4 years in prison.
The assassination attempt prompted the Philippines to have tighter security on succeeding papal visits by Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995, and recently by Pope Francis on January 15 – 19, 2015. A video of the assassination attempt on Pope Paul VI was posted on YouTube.
Pope Paul VI, real name – Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, reigned as Pope from June 21, 1963 until his death on August 6, 1978. He died from a massive heart attack. He was succeeded by Pope John Paul II.
The coin was engraved by Frank Gasparro. His initials, “FG”, appear on the obverse and reverse, below the shoulder of Pope Paul VI and President Marcos. Gasparro would eventually design and engrave the 1 Piso from the Pilipino Series in 1972.
This coin is still available for purchase from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for Php 100. It is no longer legal tender.