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Home Food & Recipes Get to know the woman behind your favorite banana ketchup!

Get to know the woman behind your favorite banana ketchup!

If you happen to visit Google’s homepage today, you might have chanced upon the image of a woman holding a test tube with different fruits and condiments in the background. The woman is Batangas-native Maria Ylagan Orosa—a food technologist, chemist, and war heroine, and today is her 126th birthday. 

Joining the ranks of notable persons such as Stephen Hawking and Leonardo da Vinci, Maria Orosa has revolutionized a lot of things during her time. But who exactly is she? My Pope lists down some facts about this amazing woman. 

Also Read: Have you seen these easter eggs in Google’s Jose Rizal Doodle?

An expert in many fields

Maria Ylagan Orosa hailed from Batangas and was a food technologist, pharmaceutical chemist, humanitarian, and war heroine. She graduated from the University of the Philippines-Manila and the University of Washington, as a government-sponsored scholar. After returning to the Philippines in 1922, she worked as a chemist for the government. She also joined the Marking’s Guerillas, who fought against the Japanese, with the rank of captain.

She formulated the recipe for banana ketchup

Our lumpiang shanghai and fried chicken taste better because of ketchup, and it’s all thanks to Maria Orosa, who developed a local version of the tomato ketchup. It was said that during the second world war, there was a shortage of tomatoes and people looked for cheap and sustainable alternatives, thus they used bananas to produce ketchup. Being one of the country’s foremost food technologists and chemists, Orosa developed the recipe for banana ketchup.

Maria Orosa wanted a self-sufficient Filipino household

Living in an agricultural country, Filipinos tend to have fruits and vegetables planted in their backyards, and Orosa wanted to utilize that. She took the lead in creating local versions of milk, jams, vinegar, and a lot more kitchen staples. She also studied preservation of different food and beverages and made canned food for the soldiers.

She smuggled food into prison camps

As it was World War II, the Japanese captured hundreds of Filipinos and Americans and kept them in prison camps. Maria Orosa risked her life in order to smuggle food, mostly created by her, to these prisoners of war. One of her inventions, Soyalac, was considered the “miracle food” because it had complete nutrition for the prisoners. These prisoners would have died of starvation if it weren’t for this Filipina heroine.


Text by Katie Rojas.

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