Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Engracia Cruz-Reyes on Stamps

Engracia Cruz-Reyes (April 16, 1892 — July 6, 1975) was a Filipino chef and entrepreneur. She was an active promoter of Filipino cuisine, especially through the restaurant chain she founded, The Aristocrat Restaurant.

She was born Engracia Cruz to a poor family in Navotas in 1892. Her mother was a street peddler who sold food sauces and fruits, and who later managed a small neighborhood eatery popularly known in the Philippines as carinderias . She developed her cooking skills at a young age, having to prepare the meals for her five younger siblings while her parents were out working for a living. She was able to complete only four years of primary education.

In 1912, she married a young lawyer from her hometown, Alexander Reyes, who in 1948 would be appointed as an Associate Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court.

Cruz-Reyes is acknowledged as a pioneer in the Philippine food and restaurant industry. Her clan has remained active in the food industry, not only through the Aristocrat restaurant, but in the manufacture of mass-market processed food products. In 2008, the family opened the Culinary Institute of Aristocrat, a cooking school.

Cruz-Reyes was active in the cause of women's suffrage until Filipino women were granted the right to vote in 1937.

Cruz-Reyes died in 1975. During her lifetime, she was the recipient of several honors, including the "Mother of the Year" award from President Ramon Magsaysay. In celebration of the centenary of her birth in 1992, she was honored with a commemorative stamp and the renaming of a street in Ermita after her.

The stamp above was issued on June 1, 1992