Google is celebrating on Friday, Nov. 29, the 126th birthday of Maria Ylagan Orosa, a Filipino food scientist, war hero, and humanitarian whose original works and inventions — which include the development of the iconic local condiment banana ketchup — have helped improve the quality of life for Filipinos.
Born in the municipality of Taal in Batangas, Orosa was an outstanding student. She received a partial government scholarship in 1916 to attend the University of Seattle, where she completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pharmaceutical chemistry and an additional degree in food chemistry.
In 1922, Orosa returned to the Philippines to help address the rising problem of malnutrition in her homeland, despite being offered the assistant chemist position in the State of Washington.
With her extensive knowledge of chemistry, she was able to develop numerous culinary innovations such as the Palayok Oven made from fitting a traditional earthenware pot with two sheets of metal. This particular invention greatly helped local remote villages lacking access to electricity with a more effective means of cooking over an open fire.
Orosa was also the brains behind the Filipino-favorite banana ketchup which has grown to become one of the staples of Filipino cuisine. Using mashed bananas as base instead of tomatoes, she made the sauce a long-lasting hit.
Two other inventions which etched her in Philippine history include Soyalac, a nutrient rich drink made from soya beans, and Darak, rice cookies packed with Vitamin B — both of which saved countless lives during World War II.
In recognition of Orosa’s contributions to the society, the National Historical Institute installed a marker in her honor at the Bureau of Plant Industry in Manila in 1983.
“It is always inspiring to see the life and work of Filipino women from our history and we are glad to honor Maria Ylagan Orosa, one of the country’s most influential Filipinas, with a special Doodle,” said Bernadette Nacario, Google Philippines country director. “We hope that this serves as a reminder for Filipinas to pursue their passions and use their talent and skills for the greater good.”