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Maria Orosa is the Filipina chemist and patriot who contributed greatly to the culinary scene. Here are some of her most notable achievements

Reading about the life of Maria Orosa will inspire anyone. Shrouded by history, Orosa is hardly a household name—yet her many inventions continue to thrive in Filipino homes and communities. While corporations seem to have done her some injustice by commercialising her success, Orosa's contributions remain hers. A humanitarian at heart, she created a variety of items that helped both Filipinos and Americans during the war. She was a patriot to say the least, and after finishing her education in the United States, returned to the country to serve her people. 

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As the second world war broke out in the Philippines, Orosa refused to flee and instead chose to stay and help feed those left behind. She died tragically after a hospital she was in was bombed on February 13, 1945. A Filipina to be proud of, Tatler Philippines pays homage to the awesome contributions of Orosa through some of her everlasting achievements.  

1. Banana Ketchup

Maria Orosa is the female scientist behind the iconic banana ketchup. A Filipino condiment, banana ketchup was created by Orosa between the 30s and 40s. At this time, Orosa had dedicated herself to bolstering Philippine food supply by creating alternatives to imported fare. She was advocate for using locally available ingredients, so when a tomato shortage ensued, she found a way to create ketchup from bananas. In 1942, Universal Food Corporation (UFC) distributed the first mass-produced banana ketchup, which is still a staple today.  

2. Palayok

Travel through the Philippine countryside and you're likely to spot a unique cooking invention: the palayok. Should you come across such, remember that it was Maria Orosa who first invented it. She did so to provide villagers (who may not have access to electricity) an effective means of cooking. It is ideal for traditional Filipino recipes, particularly stews, and can be used on hot charcoal or stoves. 

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3. Soyalac

Maria Orosa saved possibly thousands of lives with her invention, Soyalac. Known as "magic food", Soyalac was a wartime necessity for soldiers and prisoners of war. It was made as a powdered preparation of soya beans and helped provide nutrition to those arrested in Japanese concentration camps during World War II. 

4. Darak

A cookie made from rice bran, Maria Orosa's darak also possibly saved thousands of lives during the war. It was not only a nutritious food—rich in vitamin B complex and vitamins A, D, and E—but it was also something of a medicine. These cookies were considered an effective treatment for those with beriberi, a disease caused by lack of thiamine. 

5. Food Techniques

Maria Orosa was a pioneer in many ways. Her contributions have inspired generations of food technologists. In many ways, she was something of an alchmeist in the kitchen: drawing vinegar from pineapples and wine from native fruits like casuy and guava. She produces jelly from santol and mango, and created banana flour and cassava flour. She taught Filipinos how to preserve native delicacies, enabling us to can various foodstuffs and lengthen the shelf life of adobo, dinuguan, kilawen, and escabeche. No one can say for sure how far-reaching her accomplishments are, but it's obvious that Orosa has left an indelible mark in not only our kitchens, but in our histories as well. 

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