Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 | By: Esquire Philippines | no comments yet


By Jonty Cruz


Studio 5's Marily Orosa and BG Hernandez


“It was a dream come true,” said BG Hernandez, head designer of Studio 5, the graphic design firm that took on the Herculean task of creating what the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) called “The New Generation Currency.” “All this time, we kept praying that a client would give us a really big project. Well, be careful what you wish for.”


It all began with a problem, says Studio 5 president Marily Orosa. “Our money is 25 years old, and in time have become the more inferior ones because we’ve never changed it. And not surprisingly, technology has caught up with us. (BSP) wanted a bill that was aesthetically pleasing, that would echo our heritage and culture. More importantly, they wanted it to be secure, a working bill that could hide the marks that protect it from counterfeiters.” The concerns turned out to be more practical, rather than aesthetic. Still, the money needed to look great. And Studio 5 was more than willing to step up to the challenge.


Studio 5 was already a regular designer for BSP when they got the call for what might easily be the biggest job of their lives. “We didn’t bother thinking about what it entailed, or even how much they’d pay us. We instantly said yes,” said Marily. The call was for an invitation to submit test designs for the next line of Philippine money. Three agencies were invited, two were selected: Studio 5 and Design Systemat.


“The biggest challenge for us was that it had to be a complete redesign,” says BJ. “Normally, one or two bills are redesigned at a time but when BSP saw the opportunity to change all six, they took it. And we took it from there.” Studio 5 split the responsibilities with Design Systemat. The 20, 50 and 1000 peso bills went to Studio 5 and Design Systemat took the 100, 200 and 500 peso bills.


Before this big BSP project, Studio 5 has been designing coffee table books and below-the-line advertising. And as it is in books and advertising, it’s all about telling the story. Marily saw what they needed to do. “The front of the bill is a political and historical story. It shows milestone events in our country and the people behind them. The back of the bill showcases our cultural heritage.”


BG took it all as a challenge he needed to overcome. “It wasn’t the design that was the hard part. It was bringing all these different elements together and giving them meaning. Every single line, design, pattern have a meaning, and I needed to bring all of that in each bill.”


BG says he learned a lot from what might be the most important job of his career. “I learned na babalik ka sa pagka-Pinoy mo e. Although there are so many nice currencies out there, it’ll be so hard to copy them and you shouldn’t copy them. Eventually, you really have to go back to your roots. And at the end of the day, being part of something this big, it’s nothing short of historic. We don’t know how long that design will be there, but I can’t be happier. Ako, my kids were just too happy, and instant stars sila bigla sa school.”


As a devout Christian, Marily found another sense of fulfillment in the creation of the new bills. “America is removing God in their dollar and look what’s happening to their economy. We have nothing to lose by putting God in our money,” she says. “We added a line from Psalms: ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.’ Translated into Tagalog, it became, ‘Pinagpala and bayan na ang Diyos ang panginoon.’ This is more than just a money thing. We’re saying we can be proud of all of these things: our history, our culture, and our faith.”


Making money is a risky business. There are so many things to consider, so many people to please. But when it comes down to it, it’s just something to good too pass up. Marily Orosa said it best, “If you cannot be great, be part of something great. And this was a great project.” As in everything, it’s never just about the money.


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