It rained for weeks, and floodwaters had no chance to drain out to sea for the better part of that time, for the sea had encroached on the land. It was like old times in Pangasinan, although we were rarely flooded, and the wind wasn't as uninihibited as it gets now.
Another common flavoring is peeled small shrimps, the head and shells pounded in a mortar to extract the juice. Fried tinapa, too, flaked finely, but it's uncommon when the sun cannot shine. If these are inaccessible there are always the canned goods versions. Corned beef misua, flecked with red. Sardine misua, orange like the imagined sun.
I live for garlic, and I always have a bottle of it finely pounded and fried, for sprinkling into almost anything I eat. But it stands out in arroz caldo, and in misua, crackly and peppery amidst the soft yield of the rice and noodles.
But nowadays I prefer buying the egg misua, sold in groceries and supermarkets alongside the lola locks kind. It needs no added sahog, for it tastes delicious unaided. The noodle strands are thicker and sturdier.
But I still encounter the crumbly misua, and there is a batchoy I like made at our office canteen, chopped pork and liver boiled with ginger and sili leaves, salted and peppered and made thick by misua.
And I buy my childhood misua still. It comes in handy when I crave comfort. Particularly now that a thin filament of cold has lodged into my heart as I grieved with the rest of the country. It was a difficult time, actually, these last three weeks, when too many disasters converged. A friend and a constant visitor to our house was finally given up by the sea, ending hopes of him coming home alive. Then a classmate of my husband figured in an accident on the way to the biggest rescue operation in years.
So even though the sun is out a bit now, and the glory of the blue moon is unblemished by racing clouds, I still have misua. I have stocks of it, in varying degrees of thinness, white and gold and everything in between. I foresee the need for misua for months to come.