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November 29, 2019 María Ylagan Orosa's 126th Birthday

oday’s Doodle honors Filipino food scientist, war hero, and humanitarian María Ylagan Orosa, credited with over 700 recipes—including the iconic local condiment banana ketchup—on what would have been her 126th birthday.

Born in the municipality of Taal within the Batangas province, Orosa went on to become an outstanding student, winning a partial government scholarship in 1916 to attend the University of Seattle. While living in a YMCA and working odd jobs, Orosa completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pharmaceutical chemistry, as well as an additional degree in food chemistry.

Orosa was then offered a position as an assistant chemist for the State of Washington before returning to the Philippines in 1922 to focus on addressing the problem of malnutrition in her homeland.

Orosa’s knowledge of chemistry led to numerous culinary innovations. For instance, by fitting a traditional earthenware pot with two sheets of metal, she invented the Palayok Oven, providing remote villages lacking access to electricity with a more effective means of cooking over an open fire.

Although adobo and lumpia are synonymous with Filipino cuisine, Orosa’s banana ketchup is not far behind. Using mashed bananas as a base instead of tomatoes, she made the sauce a long-lasting hit. Two other inventions made her a war hero: Soyalac (a nutrient rich drink derived from soya beans) and Darak (rice cookies packed with vitamin B-1, which could also prevent beriberi disease) saved countless lives during World War II.

In recognition of Orosa's contributions to Filipino society, the National Historical Institute installed a marker in her honor at the Bureau of Plant Industry in Manila in 1983.

Happy birthday, María Ylagan Orosa!

 

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