Yesterday’s Google Doodle featured a war hero, humanitarian, and scientist all rolled into one. On her 126th birth anniversary, Maria Ylagan Orosa was celebrated for all that she’d done and given back to her nation.
Best known as the creator behind the classic Pinoy favorite banana ketchup, Orosa was a food scientist with over 700 original recipes under her belt. With a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pharmaceutical chemistry and another degree in food chemistry, it was her knowledge of chemistry that led to so many culinary innovations.
Hailing from Taal, Batangas Orosa earned a partial government scholarship in 1916 to study at the University of Seattle. She returned to the Philippines in 1922 intending to see to the problem of malnutrition in the country.
Aside from her invention of banana ketchup as a more nutritious alternative to tomato ketchup, Orosa created two other food alternatives which “saved countless lives during World War II.” These were Soyalac, a soya bean drink rich in nutrients, and Darak which are vitamin B-rich rice cookies.
Her contributions went beyond food recipes, too. Orosa was also the innovator behind the palayok oven, which continues to be used until today. The palayok oven, which is an earthenware pot fit with two sheets of metal, was a significant invention for villages with scarce access to electricity. It introduced a more effective means of cooking over an open fire.
For all these contributions to Philippine society and more Orosa was honored by the National Historical Institute with a marker at the Bureau of Plant Industry in Manila in 1983.
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