Gamson Jr Mawallil Quijano

Recently, during the current Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, the story of “lugaw is essential” becomes viral on social media. Filipino netizens worldwide reacted in many different ways to this trending topic. For this reason, I am exhilarated to share my own story related to this matter. 

“Lugaw” or “mistang” to us in Tausug is always present on our table during the breaking of fasting in the month of Ramadhān. Since, I started to fast, this is what my family used to eat to break our more than ten hours of fasting. It’s a long day on an empty stomach, so this comfort food is light on the stomach and it helps us feel a bit warmer inside, as well. 

It is worth remembering during my college days at the Universidad de Zamboanga, almost every day except weekends, we loved to cook this food during Ramadhān inside the premises of our university. Of course, with the permission of the university administration because we had a safe and open space where we could conveniently and safely cook this food.  

Around 1 p.m., my MSAean friends would go to the market to buy all the needed ingredients. On their return, we would begin to prepare everything. During those days, we had to cook this food enough to feed 500-1000 fasting Muslim students, who, at sunset would break their fast inside the campus. 

Before sunset, this food has to be ready, thus everybody helps one another to finish it swiftly. Well, the bonding while cooking became a great chance for everyone of us to strengthen the brotherhood between and among the Muslim students who were mainly from Zamboanga, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi. 

Moreover, once it is cooked, we let it cool for a while. Afterwards, we placed it in a cup and properly arranged it on the table along with dates, juice, water and some bread, ready to serve at iftār time. 

To prepare for iftār, fasting students began to come out of class and arrive to the venue which is just outside of MSA center, 15 minutes before sunset. In fact, even some Muslim faculty members were also there to join their students. To see everyone simultaneously breaks their fasting is indeed blissful. 

With the primary objective of helping Muslim students conveniently break their fasting, Muslim Students Association (MSA), a widely recognized group of Muslim students, had this customarily campus-based program during Ramadhān. As most of students were still on classes, naturally they do not have anymore time to go anywhere outside the campus and look for something to eat during iftār. So this humble program greatly helps them in a such a way no need for them to worry about where and what to eat during iftār as they have something to eat even just this.

The best thing about this food are both inexpensive and can be served to many people, especially during the time of the iftār. That’s why we considered it as our food choice because it’s proportionate to the budget of most students. The expenses we spent on this came from a contribution of some members of 5 pesos each or sometimes there were charitable organizations that sponsored it for us. 

Sick people reinvigorate by eating this food. When there are calamities, it is also the choice of food served by various groups during the feeding program for evacuees at the evacuation center because it is economical and can be easily served to feed many starving people; of course, along with water and some fruits. This is indeed a survival food for indigent Filipino families.I remember when there are times when we don’t have extra money to buy other food, my loving mother would cook this for us and she used to say: “Mga anak ku, misan da kuman mistang in makaun natu’, bangman kitaniyu nag aagad-agad mag kaun, makūg na aku.” (My dear children, it is fine, even if we only have this to eat. It’s all about us eating together that matters, and that’s what makes me happy.)

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