Top 12 Surprising Filipino Inventions You Might Want To Know

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   Related article: Filipino Inventors: The harsh reality

              Philippines is a breeding ground for undiscovered and, more often than not, unappreciated geniuses of many sorts. I know a lot of you know who Jose Rizal is, and who doesn’t? Aside from being the greatest Filipino patriot of all time, we have been awed as well by his ingenuity and uniqueness as a foremost Filipino inventor. But since his demise, how many Filipino inventors have been hailed and praised with the same intensity as what we do to Rizal? Can you think of at least five Filipino inventors that you know who can be in parallel with America’s Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell?

            Sadly, the truth that the Philippine government still lacks stern support and financial assistance for our creative Filipino inventors still haunts us up to this day. Blame it on what they call as “colonial mentality”, our very own inventors still have a long way to go. And since we are talking about Pinoy-made products and inventions, I’ve searched for 20 Filipino inventions that most people haven’t heard before. For the record, famous inventions like Armalite, Moon Buggy, and Fluorescent Lamp failed to enter my list for the simple reason that these alleged Filipino discoveries have faced controversies and disputes regarding their authenticity. May this simple list serve as a simple reminder that we will never have our own Thomas Edison until we realize that our country is actually rich in untapped and undiscovered geniuses. My respect and high appreciation goes to all Filipino inventors all over the country who are still struggling to make their own mark in our twisted and chaotic history. Here now is my top 12 list:

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1. Yoyo

We all know “yoyo” as that rounded and stringed toy that kids play nowadays. But unbeknownst to many, the original “yoyo” was far from what it is today, in terms of both appearance and purpose. Used by the natives 400 years ago as a combat weapon against Spaniards and intruders, the first “yoyo” was large and had sharp edges and studs. It was also attached to thick 20-feet long ropes for flinging at enemies or prey. The modern toy that we know today was the  brainchild of law undergraduate Pedro Flores, whose idea was later brought to reality. Thanks to America, the toy was mass produced and became one of the most distinct toys the world has ever known.

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2. E-Jeepney

After Americans left our country, Filipinos succeeded to make an authentic “jeepney” from scratch. Since then, the popular Philippine vehicle has faced a lot of innovative transformations until the modern “E-Jeepney” was finally introduced in Metro Manila and Bacolod City. Unlike the standard jeepney we have been accustomed to, this modern means of transportation offers three advantages: it is nature-friendly  because E-Jeepneys are noiseless and smokeless, it uses electricity so use of expensive diesel will gradually decrease, and jeepney drivers will  take home more profits as the electricity is significantly cheaper than the ordinary diesel.

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3. Medical Incubator

Fe del Mundo, the first Asian to have entered the prestigious Harvard University’s School of Medicine, is also credited for her studies that led to the invention of incubator and jaundice relieving device. According to, the improvised incubator was made up of two native laundry baskets of different sizes placed one inside the other. Hot water bottles were placed all around between them to provide warmth. There was also a makeshift hood over the overlapping baskets to allow oxygen to circulate within. It was created to address the needs of rural areas with no electricity that is needed to regulate newborn babies’ body temperature.

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4. Erythromycin

This well-known medicine is an antibiotic derived from the bacterium Streptomyces erythreus. Not known by many, the Ilonggo doctor/scientist Abelardo Aguilar is the one who discovered the said strain in 1949 using the soil in his home province. Unfortunately, when he sent it to his U.S employer in Eli Lilli Co. to separate the strain, the Indiana-based company owned the drug and didn’t give Aguilar any credit for his outstanding discovery.

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5. Patis

You’re wrong if you assumed that patis or fish sauce has been here in the Philippines since the Spanish era. As a  matter of fact, this popular salty partner of many popular Filipino dishes was only discovered after the Japanese occupation in the 1940’s. Ruperta David, also known in history as Aling Tentay was responsible for its accidental discovery. According to Philippine Daily Inquirer, the family of Aling Tentay started a dried fish business after the war. One day, Aling Tentay stored in jars some salted fish that turned into fragments even before they dried. While in jars, the fish fragments turned into a liquid substance that tasted like our Patis today. Thus the beginning of the thriving Patis business of Aling Tentay, which was officially registered in 1949 and is known today as Tentay Food and Sauces Inc.

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6. Banana Catsup

Filipinos just love using banana catsup as a condiment for almost every known dish in the Philippines. This is not surprising at all because the popular variation of tomato catsup was another brainchild of a great Filipino food technologist, Maria Orosa y Ylagan (1893–1945). According to historical accounts, she created the first ever recipe for banana catsup and also experimented with foods native to the Philippines and formulated food products like calamansi nip, a desiccated and powdered form of calamansi that could be used to make calamansi juice, and a powdered preparation of soya-beans called Soyalac, a “magic food” preparation which helped save the lives of thousands of Filipinos, Americans, and other nationals who were held prisoner in different Japanese concentration camps during World War II.

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7. Anticancer Cream

 Filipino inventor Rolando dela Cruz won the gold medal for his “DeBCC” anti-cancer cream at the prestigious International Inventor’s Forum in November of 2005. The “DeBCC” cream, developed from cashew nuts and other local herbs, was chosen over 1,500 entries as the “most significant invention” of the year. It is a treatment intended specifically for basal skin carcinoma (BSC), which is the most prevalent type of skin cancer worlwide.

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8. 16-Bit Microchip

According to, Diosdado Banatao developed the first single-chip graphical user interface accelerator that made computers work a lot faster. This invention has allowed computer users to use graphics for commands and not the usual typed commands in older computers. It has allowed data processing to be a little faster using very little space (small chips instead of large boards).

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9. Quink Ink

The Quink quick drying ink was invented by Francisco Quisumbing, a chemist. It was an innovative ink at that time and was further developed to work with Parker Pens. Aside from being quick drying, it was also water-resistant, did not clog the pen opening, does not blot and will not fade. It is considered as one if the best selling ink for fountain pens of the millennium.

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10. Mole Remover

Rolando dela Cruz developed in the year 2000 an ingenuous formula that could easily remove deeply grown moles or warts from the skin without leaving marks or hurting the patient. His formula was extracted from cashew nut (Annacardium occidentale), which is common in the Philippines. The formula won for dela Cruz a gold medal in International Invention, Innovation, Industrial Design and Technology Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur in September 2000.


11. Filipino-made Train

According to Atty. Antonio Oposa Jr., the founder of Law of Nature Foundation, a Filipino-made train that was launched in Cebu will not only solve traffic congestion but will also lessen the carbon emission since this mass transport system will be run using renewable energy. Invented by electronics engineer Bryan Yuson, the train was designed with three charging systems; the solar panel, wind mill, and the pedals. Yuson said that the energy from the three systems will be charged to the six batteries attached to the train and will power up the two 24 volts motor to run the train.  The train is also flexible, if the Cebu government cannot have railways for trains, it can still run in the highways using the usual vehicle tires. According to ABS-CBN News-Central Visayas, Yuson firmly said that he will not sell his invention to foreigners. He said that the train will solely be made by Filipino hands and it will be the Filipinos who will benefit from it.

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12. 3-in-1 fire truck

Angelo B. Palmones, president of AGHAM or Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan, said two years ago that the Anos fire truck, named “Patriot,” may yet be the most reliable partner in fire-fighting because it is a three in-one package: a fire truck, a rescue vehicle, and ambulance. The “Patriot” was invented by Inventor Alfredo M. Anos, Sr., known as the godfather of Filipino inventors.“Its triple capability allows firefighters and emergency workers to simultaneously put out fire, rescue people and animals, and provide first aid treatment to the injured. The ambulance and rescue fire truck uses compressed air foam system that is five to seven times more efficient than plain water in putting out fire,” Palmones said during an interview with Manila Bulletin.

* Other Filipino inventions with their inventors that you might want to know:

1. Karaoke ( a compact audio device that had a microphone, an amplifier speaker, cassette tape mechanisms, a microphone mixer that had features that enhanced voice, and an optional radio tuner) – Roberto del Rosario

2. Videophone (a device for the hearing impaired) – Gregorio Zara

3. Modular Housing System( a system capable of building within weeks a house with prefabricated materials that can withstand typhoons and earthquakes) – Edgardo Vazquez

4. Super Bunker Formula-L (a revolutionary fuel half-composed of water) – Rudy Lantano Sr.

5. “Tubig Talino” ( an iodine-rich drinking water that treats micronutrient deficiencies responsible for goiter, mental and physical retardation, and birth defects) – Department of Science and Technology

7. SMS Reader for the Blind (a device that allows the blind to read and send text messages) – group of four engineering students from the De La Salle University

8. Solar Powered Balut maker (an incubator that can process duck eggs into embryonated eggs or balut for 15 to 17 days) – College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology at the University of the Philippines-Los Banos

9. Super Kalan ( a novelty stove that can be fired with anything that burns—wood, paper, dried dung and leaves, corn cobs, and coco shells) – Narciso Mosuela 

10. Drug Detection (method for detecting drug use by pregnant females by detecting traces in the baby’s stools) – Dr. Enrique Ostrea 


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