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May 8, 2024 45 mins

Maria Ylagan Orosa was born in the Philippines, and she spent her life working to eliminate food insecurity there. She revived the use of locally available ingredients, and wrote recipes that are found in Filipino cuisine today. 


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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff You Missed in History Class, a production
of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:12):
Hello, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Tracy V. Wilson
and I'm Holly Frye. Today we're going to talk about
somebody whose life and work overlapped with a number of
previous episodes, including the ones where we've talked about chemistry,
home economics, and women during World War Two. Maria Ilagan
Arosa was born in the Philippines and her education in

chemistry took place primarily in the United States at the
University of Washington in Seattle. Then she took that knowledge
back to the Philippines and spent the rest of her
life working to eliminate food insecurity. So she was trying
to reduce the philippines reliance on imported foods, trying to
revive the use of locally available ingredients, and writing recipes

for dishes that continue to be a big part of
Filipino cuisine today. Maria Arosa was killed during the Battle
of Manila in World War Two, and while we will
be touching on some of the atrocities that took place
in the Philippines during the war, that is really not
the primary focus of the episode. So if you listen

and you think wonder why we did not mention any
particular thing, it's because our focus is really on her
in her life. Maria Aroso was born on November twenty eighth,
eighteen ninety three, and to All Philippines to all is
on the coast, very roughly one hundred kilometers or sixty
miles south of Manila. Her parents were Simplicio Arosa e Agoncio,

who was captain of a steamship, and her mother was
Juliana Ilagen. Maria was the fourth of their eight children.
The Philippines was under Spanish colonial control when Maria was born,
and the Spanish had established a free public education system
there about thirty years before her birth through a royal
decree by Queen Isabella the Second. There had been schools

before that point, primarily run by Catholic religious orders, but
this decree mandated the building of schools for boys and
for girls in all towns that had more than five
thousand residents. Education was also made compulsory between the ages
of six and twelve, so by the time Maria was born,
most children in the Philippines had access to education, at

least through primary school. It was not as common for
people to go on to college, but Maria and all
seven of her siblings did, four of them going to
college in the Philippines and three in the United States.
She and all of her siblings were seen as respectable
and accomplished, and later on, in nineteen forty eight, their

mother was voted Mother of the Year by the National
Federation of Women's Clubs of the Philippines for having raised
all of those kids.

Speaker 1 (02:57):
I love that.

Speaker 2 (02:57):
Somehow we don't have much detail or many anecdotes about
Maria's young life, but this was a really tumultuous time
in the Philippines. The Filipino nationalist organization Katipunin was established
the year before she was born to fight against Spanish
colonial rule. By August of eighteen ninety six, it had

an estimated one hundred thousand members. Katipunin had been founded
as a secret organization, and when the Spanish authorities discovered
its existence, its founder, Andreas Bonifacio, called for an armed
uprising that's generally marked as the start of the Philippine Revolution.
This happened just a few months before Maria turned three.

Fighting in the Philippine Revolution continued until December of eighteen
ninety seven, when the Pact of Biacnabato established a provisional
truce with revolutionary leaders exiled to Hong Kong and Spain
promising to make a number of reforms. Neither side really
followed through on the intent of this pack, though, with
revolutionary leaders re arming themselves in Hong Kong and Spain

not actually carrying out those reforms within a few months.
Spain also had some other things to worry about. The
United States had backed Cuba's fight to become independent from Spain,
and tensions between Spain and the United States escalated after
the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor on February fifteenth,

eighteen ninety eight. By April of that year, the two
were at war. In May of eighteen ninety eight, the
United States defeated the Spanish fleet that was anchored in
Manila Bay, and when American forces arrived for a ground
invasion of Manila, Filipino revolutionary forces joined them. Revolutionaries considered

this as fighting with the United States against a common
enemy to free the Philippines from Spanish colonial control, and
on June twelfth of eighteen ninety eight, the Revolutionary Government
of the Philippines proclaimed its independence. Neither the United States
nor Spain recognized this independence, though, and the Treaty of Paris,

signed on December tenth, eighteen ninety eight, gave the United
States the right to purchase the Philippines from Spain, which
it did for twenty million dollars. The US Senate ratified
the treaty on February fourth, eighteen ninety nine, by which
point American troops had already started fighting against revolutionaries in
the Philippines who continued to fight for their independence. At

this point, Maria was only five, and her father was
using his steamship to transport Filipino troops and supplies to
support the fight for independence. That was something he had
been doing during the Spanish American War and the earlier
revolutionary uprising. Her father was one of the people as
well who lobbied for the United States to recognize the

Philippines as independent.

Speaker 1 (05:52):
The Philippine American War was officially declared over in nineteen
oh two. That year, Congress also passed the Philippine Organic Act.
This act did not grant independence to the Philippines, but
it did establish a civilian government and authorize two Filipino
resident commissioners to have seats in Congress, although these were

non voting representatives. Residents of the Philippines were considered US nationals,
but not citizens. That's something that we talked more about
in our episode on the Insular Cases in August of
twenty twenty three. Eventually, the Arosa family moved from Taal
to Bawan, which is roughly twenty kilometers farther south and
also on the coast. The details are vague here, but

most sources about Maria Arosa's life say the family was
trying to get away from the violence and brutality of
American soldiers who were stationed in Taal. Apparently, American authorities
found their departure suspicious, and her father was arrested and detained.
There are also some sources that say their move was
in the aftermath of an eruption of the Taal volcano.

That eruption seems to have happened later either way. In Bawan,
Juliana and Simplicio ran a general store. Simplicio died in
nineteen ten at the age of just forty five. Maria
was sixteen at that point, and she started helping her
mother to run the store. In nineteen fifteen. At the
age of twenty one, Maria enrolled at the University of

the Philippines to study pharmaceutical chemistry. A year later, she
traveled to the United States to continue her college education
at the University of Seattle.

Speaker 2 (07:32):
There are some contradictory accounts about this moment in Maria's
young life as well. According to some accounts, her education
was self funded, but others say that she had been
awarded a partial scholarship from the government. In nineteen oh three,
Congress had passed the Pensonado Act, which provided funding for

students from the Philippines to go to college in the
United States. This act was ostensibly part of an American
plan to quote modernize the Philippines and prepare it for
self government, although it was definitely also an attempt to
promote goodwill and cut down on the likelihood of another
revolutionary uprising. In the program's first year, only men and

boys received scholarships, but that changed in the second year.
It's possible that Maria was the recipient of one of
these scholarships. Two of her brothers definitely were, including her
brother Jose, who came to Seattle while Maria was still
a student there. I did not find her name on
any of the specific documents that had lists of students

on them. A lot of accounts of Maria's life say
that she traveled to Seattle as a stowaway, including some
accounts written by family members, but her name is on
a passenger manifest from a Japanese ship that arrived in
Washington in August of nineteen sixteen, along with the name
of a friend that she was known to be traveling with.

Once arrived, she lived at the YMCA for a while
before eventually finding other housing. Some of Rosa's letters home
from her college years have survived and been translated into
English and posted online by family members. These letters make
it sound like her time in college was difficult but
worth it. Most of these letters describe her as safe

and well through the mercy of God, and she also
credits God's help in keeping her well and helping her
with her studies. She clearly worried about her family, especially
after hearing about an outbreak of cholera in the Philippines.
At various points after getting this news, Maria urged her
mother to eat nutritious food, get plenty of sleep, and

wash her hands, and to cook or boil anything she
ate or drank, and to throw away any food that
flies or mosquitoes had landed on. And these worries continued
with the start of the nineteen eighteen flu pandemic. Maria
herself contracted the pandemic flu in nineteen nineteen, but she recovered.
Maria was also worried about her brothers and nephews. World

War One had already started when she left for the
United States. The Philippine Assembly established the Philippine National Guard
in nineteen seventeen, and the National Guard recruited between fifteen
thousand and twenty five thousand Filipino soldiers to support the
American war effort. Maria didn't give a reason why in
her letters. I can imagine a number of different possible reasons,

but she was strongly against the idea of the young
men and her family joining. Although being so far away
from her family during wartime and a pandemic must have
been stressful, the war also led to an opportunity. While
a Roso was in college, one of the people who
was working in the university's food lab left for military service,

and Aroso was hired to take his place. In a
letter to her mother, she described this as an honor
because this was a type of job that was always
offered to white people first before Filipino, Chinese, or Japanese applicants.
It was also a job that she described as a
great responsibility and a great help to her studies as
she tested foods for purity and adulteration, and she made

sure they met quality standards and actually contained what was
on their labeling. We'll talk about her life after college
after a sponsor break. Maria Aurosa earned a bachelor's degree

in pharmaceutical chemistry in nineteen seventeen, followed by a bachelor's
in food chemistry in nineteen eighteen, and then won in
pharmacy in nineteen twenty. That sounds like plenty, and she
thought about returning home at that point, but she stayed
for one more year to earn a master's in pharmaceutical
chemistry because she hoped having that masters would help her

get a higher rate of pay after she returned home.
While at the University of Washiington's, she was inducted into
Sigma sized Scientific Research Honor Society and Iota Sigma Pi
Honor Society for women in chemistry. While in the United States,
in addition to just an enormous amount of schoolwork, she

also helped her mother run an export business with Juliana,
ordering goods like baby bibs, embroideries, and bags in the
Philippines and shipping them to the United States, where Maria
arranged for their sale, offered some guidance on what was
selling and what was not, and sent the proceeds back home.
Some of the jobs Maria did to support herself while

she was in college would also go on to influence
her work when she got back to the Philippines, including
working at a fish cannery in Alaska and picking fruit
on a farm during the summers. After earning her master's degree,
Erosha turned down a job offer to be an assistant
chemist for the state of Washington. She arrived back in

the Philippines in nineteen twenty two. A year she taught
home economics at Centro Escolar University, and then she went
to work as a chemist at the Bureau of Science
for the rest of her career. A huge part of
Erosa's work was focused on reducing food insecurity and malnutrition,
and on food autonomy for the Philippines. The term food

sovereignty would not be coined for decades, but there was
a lot of overlap with what she was doing trying
to give local people rather than governments and corporations, control
over their own food systems. To be very clear, the
Philippines is home to a huge diversity of different ethnic groups.

This archipelago has had connections to other nations, both nearby
and across oceans for centuries, so Filipino cuisine has a
lot of different influences. I cannot stress this enough. I
am not criticizing any cuisines that arose from this process
or any foods that people like to eat. The reliance

on American foods after the Philippines became a US territory, though,
that was an intentional part of American control over the islands.
After the United States annexed the Philippines following the Spanish
American War, the US thought the Philippines was not capable
of governing itself. President William McKinley had instructed commissioners to

americanize and civilize the archipelago. Obviously, this was not just
about food, but food was a part of it. Authorities
from the United States saw Filipino foods as unhealthy and
poor quality, and encouraged people to eat processed imports instead.
As the United States eventually started looking at a plan

for the Philippines to become independents, adoption of American foods
was also seen as a sign of progress. If American
officials dined at the home of a Filipino official, eating
any Filipino dishes that were served was considered to be
a gesture of goodwill, Like it was a it was
polite to accept and appreciate this food. But if this

Filipino host instead served American dishes, that was seen as
a sign that the hosts, and by extension, the community
that they were part of, were moving toward being capable
of governing themselves. This even included a preference for canned
imported fruit over fruits that were locally grown, because local

fruit was believed to be a potential vector for cholera.
To be clear, cholera is spread through contaminated food and water,
but it's caused by bacteria, not the fruit itself, and
canned foods had their own problems in the early twentieth century,
including bachulism outbreaks, which were an ongoing problem in American
canned goods. Yeah, so we're not going to get into

the weeds about the idea of healthy or unhealthy, because
food is more complicated than that. But this meant that
over time, the Philippines was increasingly and really artificially dependent
on imports of processed and preserved foods, primarily shipped from
the United States, Australia, and Japan. This was generally a

lot more expensive than food produced locally would have been,
and this focus on imported food also meant that people
had progressively less and less familiarity with how to prepare
and eat the foods that were abundant there in the Philippines.
So Erosa focused on figuring out the nutrient content and
uses for foods that were locally available, sometimes reviving older

traditions and sometimes finding new uses for things that were
typically seen as a byproduct or waste or suited only
for animal feed. Many of these were also foods that
had potential as export crops. For example, Maria Arosa is
the first person known to have canned and frozen mangoes
in the Philippines. Mangoes aren't native to the Philippines, but

they were introduced sometime after the fifteenth century, and they
grew and grow abundantly there. Arosa also established rural improvement
clubs basically four H clubs, patterned after the four H
clubs she'd encountered while studying in the United States. These
provided information and instruction on how to grow, prepare, make,

and preserve things at home. By nineteen twenty four, these
clubs had about twenty two thousand members around the Philippines.
She also worked with the Extension Service to provide families
with information on gardening, raising poultry, and making things that
could be sold. The whole idea was for families to
be more self sufficient and to find new sources of

income and to progressively reduce their reliance on American goods.
While she was relying on education that she had attained
in the United States, Arosa was focused on what people
in the Philippines actually needed and how people were living
day to day, like a lot of people didn't have
electricity in their homes, especially outside of cities. She modified

an existing type of earthenware container called a pallioc, adding
a piece of sheet metal to the bottom and aluminum
foil under the lid, and that turned it into a
small oven that could be used over a fire or
a wood burning stove. As we said earlier, commercially canned
foods had become a big part of the food supply
in the Philippines, but at the same time, they were

expensive and they were out of a lot of people's
reach financially. But home canning was not widely practiced at all.
When Orosa started doing this work. She developed canning methods
for a wide range of locally available foods, including whole mangos,
and she created educational materials to teach people how to

do this themselves. In nineteen twenty five, the annual Manila
Carnival included a display of home canned goods, which was
many people's first exposure to the idea. Interest in canning
at home really increased after this point. In nineteen twenty seven,
Aroso was promoted to lead the Division of Food Preservation

at the Bureau of Science in Manila. A year later,
as part of her work, she embarked on a year
long global tour to study food preservation techniques and home
demonstration methods. The people traveling with her included Isabel de Santos,
owner of DeSanto's Fruit Products Company, which had been established
two years before and incorporated under the name ismar taken

from the names Isabel and Maria. Maria wasn't directly involved
in the creation of this company, but she had been
the one who had taught Isabel how to preserve fruit.
This company preserved foods for export, especially mangoes and guava,
according to a nineteen twenty nine description of their visit
to Hawaii on this tour. By that point, Arosa had

sixteen women working for her as demonstrators, traveling all around
the Philippines to teach people how to can their own
food and to develop new methods in the food lab.
Arosa was promoted to lead the Philippines' Home Economics Division
after she returned from this tour. She applied what she
had learned during this year of research to finding or

reviving nutrient dense foods in the Philippines. This included making
flour from coconuts, green bananas, cassava, and rice rather than
using imported wheat flour. She also developed culinary uses for
coconut oil, which was mainly being used for things like
floor polish. In nineteen thirty two, she published a booklet

of recipes using roselle, which is a type of hibiscus
that had been introduced to the Philippines from India and Malaysia.
Its fruit has a similar flavor to cranberries, which were
another expensive import from the United States. So she saw
the roselle as a potential source of both food and income,
and the booklet out lined recipes for a range of

foods made from it, including jellies, butters, marmalades, chutneys, juice, wine,
and vinegar. She also developed a number of recipes using soybeans,
including a soybean based powdered protein drink called soilac. Here
also is a recipe that she wrote for soy milk,
which was published in a USDA bulletin in nineteen thirty six.

That bulletin also included two different recipes for making powdered
soybean milk that she wrote. Quote, Wash the beans thoroughly,
soak them in plenty of water for twelve hours, changing
the water frequently. Grind the soaked beans, and a stone mill,
adding small amounts of water while grinding. The total amount
of water subsequently added as from three to five times

that of the beans. The thin paste like fluid is
boiled half hour and then strained through a cheesecloth. A
small amount of vanilla extract or other flavoring maybe added
in order to mask the characteristic odor and flavor of
the milk. Rice was and is a staple food in
the Philippines, but rice brand or derrek, was considered to

be a waste product of the refining process. Arosa found
that rice brand was very high in B vitamins as
well as vitamins A, D, and E, and she created
a recipe for Derek cookies that were high enough in
B vitamins that they could be used to treat and
prevent the vitamin B one deficiency known as Barry berry.
Her most famous culinary development was banana ketchup, and we

will talk about that after a sponsor break. The culinary
invention that Maria Rosa is most famous for is banana ketchup.
So let's back up for a second and talk about ketchup.

If your background is like Holly's and mine, ketchup is
probably so synonymous with tomato that you don't even need
to say the tomato part. But ketchup has roots in
Asian cuisines, and its early precursors did not have tomatoes
in them at all. These were fermented fish or soybean

pastes that were meant to have a very long shelf life.
The exact origins of the word ketchup are not totally clear.
It first appeared in English in the seventeenth century as
a word for sauces that British merchants and colonists were
bringing back to Europe from Asia. Some articles on ketchup
history cite a specific word as its origin, but there

are really a number of similar words from East, South
and Southeast Asian languages that all describe various brines and
salti or savory sauces. Regardless, early references to ketchup and
English make it clear that it really didn't resemble the
tomato ketchup of today. Like one recipe from sixteen eighty
three calls for ketchup and if you don't have any ketchup,

you can substitute an anchovy, So obviously not the same thing. Yeah,
anchovy would not be a good substitute for the red
tomato ketchup that comes out of a bottle.

Speaker 1 (24:06):
It would be a far better substitute in my book,
but that's just a matter of personal taste.

Speaker 2 (24:13):
Over the seventeen hundreds, various English language references to ketchup,
and recipes for making ketchup involve things like soy, mushroom juice, walnuts,
and oysters, as well as a number of different fruits,
but not tomatoes, since the conventional wisdom among a lot
of Europeans at that point was that tomatoes were poisonous.

Exact recipes for making this non tomato ketchup could really vary,
but for the most part they involved simmering the ingredients
down until they had thickened, or adding lots of salt
to a paste, or some combination of both of those things.
James MEAs is usually credited with introducing the first tomato

ketchup in eighteen twelve, although his this version tended to
spoil fairly quickly and it was really more like tomato
sauce in consistency, but people seemed to like it, and
in the decades that followed, more and more ketchup recipes
included tomato or just had tomato as their primary ingredient. Then,
in eighteen seventy six, Hines introduced a bottled tomato ketchup

that also contained vinegar and sugar that gave it a
longer shelf life. It was thicker and sweeter than Misa's version,
and it was made without the preservatives that had become
controversial in the late nineteenth century. By the early nineteen hundreds,
Hine was selling five million bottles of tomato ketchup a year.

The tomato part is there on the label. Like we
said earlier, For a lot of Americans, that tomato part
goes without saying. Tomatoes had been introduced to the Philippines
from South America, most likely by Spain during the Manila
galleyan trade that ran from Manila to Acapulco from the
sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. Eventually, a localized tomato variety developed,

known as the native tomato or the Cammatis tagalog, which
usually has a lighter red or sometimes greenish skin. This
variety of tomato is more resistant to the climate of
the Philippines, and it's a key component in a number
of Filipino dishes, but it's usually more sour and acidic
than what would be used to make today's tomato ketchup.
Aside from that, the runaway success of Hinz tomato ketchup

meant that by the early twentieth century, people were not
typically making their own ketchup at home. Anymore, they were
buying it in glass bottles. Circling back around to what
we discussed earlier about American food imports into the Philippines
and the early twentieth century, imported bottled ketchup was really expensive,

but it was also in really hide demand, both because
of the presence of Americans living in the Philippines and
this influence of Americans and American policy on Filipino cuisine.
Maria Arosa looked for an alternative, making ketchups from a
lot of different fruits, including guava and papaya. That Roselle

cookbook we mentioned earlier included Brozelle ketchup, but banana ketchup
was the most successful of all her ketchup recipes, made
from saba bananas, brown sugar, spices, and vinegar. Saba bananas
are stockier and have a richer flavor than the cavendish
bananas that are the usual standard in most American grocery stores.

About a decade after Arosa developed her banana ketchup, Magdolo
viv and Francisco Senior started the first mass production of
commercially bottled banana ketchup under the brand named Mafron. Today,
some commercially bottled banana ketchups are colored red, but others
aren't and retain the color of the banana and the

spices instead. Banana ketchup continues to be popular both in
the Philippines and in the Filipino diaspora, both as a
condiment and as an ingredient in other foods, including Filipino spaghetti,
which includes banana ketchup and cut up hot dogs in
the sauce. I would absolutely eat this, but I have not.

Speaker 1 (28:17):
In nineteen thirty four, Arosa became head of the Plant
Utilization Division of the Philippine government's Bureau of Plant Industry.
That same year, the US passed the Philippine Independence Act,
establishing a ten year transition period for independence, during which
time the Philippines was meant to both prepare itself for
independence and demonstrate that it was capable of it. But

war disrupted that ten year plan. After rising tensions that
had gone on for years, Japan invaded China in nineteen
thirty seven and Germany invaded Poland in nineteen thirty nine.
On December eighth, nineteen forty one, just hours after attacking
Pearl Heart, Hawaii, Japan invaded the Philippines. The departure of

the United States military from the Philippines is really its
own involved story, but by May of nineteen forty two,
General Douglas MacArthur had withdrawn to Australia, vowing to return,
and about one hundred thousand Allied troops had been captured,
with another about fifty thousand killed or wounded. The aftermath

of this withdrawal included a series of atrocities, including the
Bataan Death March, which was a forced march of about
twelve thousand American and sixty six thousand Filipino prisoners of war,
during which thousands of them died. Arosa became part of
the Filipino resistance against the Japanese, becoming a captain in

Marking's Gorillas. This gorilla unit also has its own history,
but Erosa's focus was once again on food finding and distributing,
including paying for it with her own money and working
with volunteers to prepare it. Many of these volunteers were
students who were stranded in Manila because of the war.

During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, she also worked
to smuggle food to prisoners of war and into Santa
Toomas internment camp, where thousands of civilians were being held.
She reportedly filled hollow bamboo with things like her soilac powder,
which was nicknamed magic food, and got it into the

camps with the help of resistance fighters who were disguised
as carpenters. It is likely that she saved thousands of
people from dying of starvation doing this work over the
course of the war. In nineteen forty three, Japan declared
the Philippines to be independent, with the hope of securing
the loyalty of the archipelago and putting a stop to

the ongoing resistance fighting. But Filipinos continued their fight, including
alongside American forces when they arrived at Laity in October
of nineteen forty four. American efforts to liberate the Philippines
ultimately led to the Battle of Manila, which started on
February third, nineteen forty five, and lasted for a month.

By that point, Allied forces had taken the surrounding countryside,
but Japanese infantry remained inside the city. The Battle of
Manila was truly horrific, with roughly one hundred thousand civilians
being killed, many of them massacred indiscriminately by Japanese troops,
but some were killed by American artillery, and one of

those was Maria Arosa. Her family had tried to get
her to leave Manila and come back to Bowan, where
she might be safer, but she had insisted that she
could not abandon her work or the women that she
was working with. Those women had been nicknamed the Arosa Girls.

Speaker 2 (31:51):
I think even after this, girls and young women who
were part of like the home economics movement continued to
be nicknamed the Erosa Girls. On February thirteenth, nineteen forty five,
she and others from the Bureau of Plant Industry had
taken refuge at an improvised bomb shelter when she was
struck in the foot by shrapnel. She was badly injured

and taken to Remidio's Hospital in a push cart. This
hospital had been established by the Philippine Red Cross at
Malate Catholic School, but at this point the Red Cross's
funding had run out and the hospital was being staffed
entirely by volunteers. A Red Cross sign had been painted
on the roof to try to make it clear that
this was a hospital, but this was hit by American

shelling during a three day bombardment of the area. According
to survivors, there had not been a large Japanese presence
in the area when this bombardment happened, and one account
compared it to using a pile driver on an ant hill.
That same day, while at the hospital for treatment of
the injury to her foot, Maria Ilagan Arosa was again

struck by shrapnel, this time in the heart. She was
killed at the age of fifty one, and she was
one of about four hundred people who died in Manila
that day. The dead could not be buried immediately because
the few Japanese soldiers who were in the area were
shooting at people in the streets. It's believed that she
was eventually buried in a mass grave on the grounds

of Blante Catholic School, although the exact location is not
currently known. The Battle of Manila went on for more
than two weeks after Arosa's death, ending on March third,
nineteen forty five. It is regarded as the worst urban
battle fought in the Pacific theater during World War II.
Roughly ten percent of the population in Manila was killed

and much of the city was reduced to rubble, including
nearly the entire business district. In terms of capital cities,
the destruction in Manila was comparable to that of Berlin
and Warsaw, but it's far less well known today outside
of the Pacific. Direction of Manila was a massive loss
of cultural and architectural heritage for the Philippines. This diverse

and cosmopolitan city had been nicknamed the Pearl of the
Orient as far back as the seventeen fifties. On a
more practical level, this destruction included many government buildings, including
buildings where Maria Arosa had worked. Most of her research,
teaching tools and materials that she had created for the
Philippines Extension Service were destroyed. More than a million people

were killed in the Philippines during World War II, out
of a population of about eighteen million. General Tomoyuki Yamashida,
who had been in command of the Japanese forces defending
the Philippines toward the end of the war, was later
hanged for war crimes. The massive destruction and disruption contributed
to rampant inflation and shortages of food and other resources

after the war ended. There were also differences of opinion
within the Philippines and in the United States about how
to handle Filipinos who had collaborated with the Japanese. When
World War two ended, the ten year timeline for independence
for the Philippines had passed, and President Harry S. Truman

issued Proclamation twenty six ninety five on July fourth, nineteen
forty six, recognizing the Philippines as a separate and self
governing nation. Because of the war, this independence was recognized
in a very different context from what had been imagined
in nineteen thirty four, and the nation's transition from a
colony first of Spain and then of the United States

to an independent nation is really its own separate story.
There were definitely struggles related to the food supply of
the Philippines in the wake of World War II and
the shift in its trading relationship from the United States
that came from it's no longer being a territory, but
Maria A Rosa's two decades of work on food and
security are recognized as having helped with this transition. It

would have been even more difficult without everything she had
done to promote locally available food sources and methods for
preparing and preserving them. A street in Manila was named
after Maria Arosa in nineteen sixty four. On November twenty ninth,
nineteen eighty three, the National Historical Institute placed a marker
memorializing her at the Bureau of Plant Industry. There's also

a Mario y Arosa Memorial Hall at the Bureau of
Agricultural Extension building in dillman Queson City, which is part
of the Manila Metro Area. A plaque there reads quote
dedicated to the memory of Maria Ilagan Erosa, pharmaceutical chemist,
home economist, humanitarian, guerrilla worker and organizer of home extension

in government, died in the line of duty thirteen February
nineteen forty five. In twenty twenty, a marker commemorating Maria
Arosa was found during a search for a mass grave
believed to be the one on the grounds of the
Malate Catholic School. This is believed to have been a
memorial stone rather than a marker of her burial site.

In twenty seventeen, a Ketchup Museum opened at the Neutra
Asia Kabwyo plant in the Light Industry Science Park in Kawaya, Laguna.
This closed during the early part of the COVID nineteen
pandemic and reopened in December of twenty twenty three. It
features exhibits on bananas, the commercial production of banana ketchup,

and in Maria Arosa Hall, the Life and work of
Maria Arosa. A Google doodle of her also came out
in twenty nineteen in commemoration of her one hundred and
twenty sixth birthday, and a bust of her was unveiled
in her home province of Batangas on her birthday that
same year. Over the course of her career, Maria Erosa

developed more than seven hundred recipes, many of them still
considered to be staples of Filipino cuisine. Her niece, Helen
Arosa del Rosario, collected these recipes along with essays about
her aunt, who she knew as Tia Maria, and these
were published as a book in nineteen seventy. This was
reprinted in nineteen ninety eight as part of the celebration

of the centennial of Philippine Independence. That centennial, of course,
being of eighteen ninety eight when the Philippines declared itself independent,
not nineteen forty six, when the United States recognized it.
A fiftieth anniversary edition of this book was published as
Appetite for Freedom, The Recipes of Maria y Arosa. There's
also a picture book about her that came out in

twenty twenty three that is called Maria Arosa, Freedom Fighter,
Scientist and Inventor from the Philippines. We'll talk a little
bit about a little story involving that fiftieth anniversary edition
on Friday, and we'll also talk about banana ketchup on Friday.

Speaker 1 (38:48):
I'm ready to talk about food, food food. Do you,
in the meantime have listener mail? I do?

Speaker 2 (38:53):
I do have listener mail. First, I have a note.
This is all about the ruby slippers from our Unearthed episode.
First all, First of note, a number of people have
contacted us about this, and I just want to thank
everybody who has contacted us about this for being kind
about it, because it is the exact kind of silly
mistake that has sometimes prompted violent anger from people. The

Judy Garland's museum is in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, not Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I just saw the word Grand Rapids in an article
and my brain auto completed the rest incorrectly, So apologies

for that. Judy Garland was from Minnesota, not from Michigan.
A couple different emails we're going to read quickly about
these reeby slippers because the emails they sort of dovetail.
The first one is from Holly, not the Holly. I've
been talking to you for the last forty minutes, as
far as you know, different Holly, Holly, Hi, Holly, and Tracy.

I've enjoyed listening to your podcast for many years now,
having been introduced to it by my sister, a true
history major. I've been meaning to write to you so
many times about things that I hear that I can
relate to, but was finally prompted to do so today
after hearing you talk about the ruby slippers. I live
in Minnesota and remembered hearing stories on the local news
about the ruby slippers being returned and about the man

who had stolen them. Apparently he Terry, had lived a
life of crime and was told by one of his
mobster friends that the rubies must be real, which justified
their one million dollar insured value. So Terry went to
go steal them as one last score, thinking he could
take the rubies off the shoes and sell them. When
he took them in to sell, the person he was

dealing with told him they were glass and not real rubies.
It still sounds fishy to me that he believed the
rubies were real. However, he had never seen the movie
and did not know about their cultural significance, so maybe
he did not know what he was dealing with. Terry
got rid of the slippers two days later, and the
FBI eventually found the shoes in Minneapolis during a sting operation.

The FBI still hasn't disclosed exactly how they were able
to track the slippers down. I'm attatching the original news
story I saw, so you can read about it and
see what you think. So the next bit of.

Speaker 1 (41:23):
Listen, I think he should go to jail for never
having seen The Wizard of the.

Speaker 2 (41:29):
Next bit of this email is about an episode about
John Dillinger, which prior hosts the show did. I have
never heard it before, so I cannot really comment on
slash process the stuff about John Dillinger. I'm just going
to skip ahead and say anyway, I hope this article
helped shed some light on your questions about the man

who stole the bribe slippers. I always enjoy listening to
your podcast, and thank you for your diligence. And bring
you to light so many stories and cultural sensitivities that
can get lost over time, including a pet tax of
our Persian rag doll cat Smokey and our terry poodle
mixed Betty. Yes, our cat is bigger than our dog,
but they get along well and love playing with each other.
Thank you for all you do, Holly from Minnesota. Incredibly

cute cat, incredibly cute puppy dog. Listen, very excited to
get this email. I've had poodle fever lately, so that
was like too much for my heart.

Speaker 1 (42:23):
Yeah, so cute. It's so cute.

Speaker 2 (42:25):
I'm going to read this other email quickly because like
they sort of just go together. This is from Alan,
and Alan said, Hi, Tracy and Holly. I'm something of
an insomniac when I'm puzzling over something that doesn't make sense,
so I was hoping to solve this particular ruby slippers
mystery for you both. While the ruby slippers are covered
in sequins, the bows on the front of the shoes

are decorated with red crystals and glass gems, which might
look like ruby's to someone who had heard about the
value of the shoes without knowing their history. The defendant
also claims to have never seen The Wizard of Oz,
which seems unbelievable. Although the viewing habits of low level
Midwestern gangsters probably doesn't trend toward Hollywood musicals of the

nineteen thirties. The red crystals actually played an important role
in authenticating the shoes after they had been recovered by
the FBI. During the Smithsonian's restoration of their pair of
ruby slippers, it was discovered that some of the red
crystals were replaced by clear ones painted red in what
was probably an on set repair during filming, a fact

not known to the public previously and therefore not something
a forger would have been able to duplicate. Of course,
there are lots of unanswered questions in this particular mystery,
But as someone who has been paying close attention to
the things we do know, I thought i'd passed along
something of what I'd learned to save your sleep. As
for pet tax, I'm including a picture of my little

guy Toddy, who acts as something of a lowing a
low level gangster in my house, shaking down his poor
brother and sister for any cat treats they may have missed.
Cheers Alan, opening the picture of Toddy. Oh my goodness,
Totty looks like the expression on this cat's face looks

Toddy is planning something. That's what I will say. So
thank you so much. Toddy is planning a heist for sure.
Thank you so much, Alan and Holly, both of you
for this. I think I can believe someone never having
seen the Wizard of Oz le iiil. What I can't, though,

quite wrap my head around, is the idea that a
person who has lived for seventy some years in the
United States would be unaware of their cultural significance because
there are just so many references to the Wizard of
Oz and to the Ruby Slippers and so many other things.

Speaker 1 (44:53):
Yeah, and so I'm.

Speaker 2 (44:55):
Sure there are people whose just world does not intersect
with that at all. I have a hard time imagining it.
So thank you very much Alan and Holly for sending
these emails, and to everyone who kindly told us that
Minnesota was where we were talking about in not Michigan.
If you would like to send us a note about

this or any other podcast, we write history podcasts at
iHeartRadio dot com, and you can subscribe to the show
on the iHeartRadio app and wherever else you like to
get your podcasts. Stuff you missed in History Class is
a production of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit

the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to
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Tracy V. Wilson

Tracy V. Wilson

Holly Frey

Holly Frey

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