Google is celebrating the 126th birth anniversary of Maria Ylagan Orosa, the outstanding Filipina who invented the very popular banana ketchup. The giant search engine is rolling up a special doodle today, November 29 for this commemoration.
Orosa is a food scientist, a veteran war hero, and a humanitarian who in her lifetime had helped improve the quality lives of countless Filipinos. She invented the iconic local condiment—banana ketchup—by using mashed bananas as the base, substituting for the traditional tomatoes. Since its introduction, banana ketchup has become a staple in Filipino cuisine.
She also invented the Soyalac, a nutrient-rich drink made from soya beans. Darak—rice cookies with a great amount of Vitamin B nutrient that helped save numerous lives during the war—is also among her food inventions.
Born in Taal, Batangas, Orosa was a bright student, having 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.
She returned to the country in 1922 and helped address the then pressing problem of malnutrition, despite being offered the assistant chemist post in the State of Washington. Back in the homeland, she developed numerous culinary innovations like the Palayok Oven made from fitting a traditional earthenware pot with two sheets of metals. This invention helped local remote villagers who were lacking access to electricity to have a more effective means of cooking over an open fire.
Orosa’s contributions to society were recognized by the National Historical Institute in 1983 by installing a marker in her honor at the Bureau of Plant Industry.
“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 Google Philippines Country Director Bernadette Nacario. “We hope that this serves as a reminder for Filipinas to pursue their passions and use their talent and skills for the greater good.”