For the metric prefix, see pico-.


In Macao, 20ᵗʰ century, a unit of mass, approximately 60.479 kilograms, (approximately 133.3 pounds av). A version of the picul.

United Nations, 1966.


A unit of mass in the Philippines = 5½ arrobas, about 63.25 kilograms.



Another of the measures of weight we have omitted to insert in our tables is the pico of Chinese origin much used in Philippine commerce.

There have not been wanting persons of authority who have advised us to insert it in this book; but their arguments have not convinced us of its utility. Our motives for its suppression are:

1st. It is not a fixed measure, or rather, a certain type of the said measure; because although it is true that in the Philippines it has come to be used with a recognised value of 137½ lbs. (Spanish) [i.e., libra], or rather 5½ Spanish arrobas; and that this is the traditional weight it has been represented in commercial transactions in this country; it is also true as says D. José de la Cavada in his Tables of Reduction that the pico never existed in Manila as a real and effective weight, and that it was realised by weighing it in scales and with Spanish weights.

2nd. That as the pico is an imaginary weight, at least in the Philippines, and needed the assistance of other units for its realisation as we have said above, these being Spanish which are called to disappear, it will happen the same with the pico or at least its present value will vary the day in which the measures and weights of the U. S. are established, a day which to our mind is not far distant.

Moreover, we are far from believing, that the pico used in the Islands is the true pico, that is that used in the country of its origin. Certainly we deny that it has the same value; and although we believe that the difference which exists between the pico used in the British colonies of the Chinese coasts, which we believe to be the true one, and that which has come to be used in the Philippines is not owing to the want of faithful and little exactitude of the Chinese scales as an old-time author has said but occasioned by the exigencies of adaptation of the said weight to our Spanish scales and weights.

Being so different in their origin and value from one another it was not easy to make them agree, nor much less to find the exact equivalent of the pico with the divisors of our scales.

If it had been only the pico which it was intended to adapt, the difficulties would not be so great, but we must bear in mind that the pico with its divisors, decimals and centesimals, represents a complete system of weights sufficient for whatever man may need in commercial undertakings with his neighbors. And on that account the divisions of the pico into Chinantas, Cates and Taheles, offer greater difficulties to the adaptation of our scales.

Because it is well known that the scale was the preferable weight of our forefathers, and its precision seldom reached beyond an ounce (ozs); and therefore if we had to weigh Cates half Cates, etc., with the Spanish scales (as the City of Manila ordained at the beginning of the eighteenth century) its execution should be made possible; and hence also, the necessity of giving the Cate 22 ozs of the Spanish scale.

We shall not criticise these dispositions; and much less when we can scarcely conceive what value it would have been possible to give to the Cates, half Cates, etc., in our scale in order to realise the said agreement. But this will not deprive our appreciations of their virtue; and therefore all we have said above stands good.

Finally; to the reader to whom it becomes necessary to reduce the Chinese-Filipino Pico to kilograms we advise reference to our table of Quintales to kilograms, reducing the pico to arrobas, since we know that each pico equals 5½ arrobas, and then reducing the arrobas to Quintales: an operation that can almost be done from memory. For instance; if we wish to find how many kilograms there are in 200 picos, we find immediately that these are equivalent to 1100 arrobas equal to 275 Quintales, and seeking these in the said table we find that the 200 picos are equivalent to 12652 kilograms and a few grams.

And thus, whilst the Spanish weights exist we can with facility pass over the table of picos; and should these weights one day become fixed the occasion will not be wanting to make the corresponding table.

S. Martin.
Tablas de las pesas y medidas que se usan en Filipinas.
Manila: Philippine Publishing Co., 1901.
Pages 39 & 41.

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