Almost 8 cats played around a lady in red seated on a small black plastic chair along East Ave. These black-white and white-brown pets were all hers: she picked some of them from the streets where she sold candies and cigarettes on a corner.
I never noticed her there before. But I got curious with her cats, so I started asking as I dropped a peso coin for a piece of Mentos.
“Dati diese-otso sila. Ninanakaw yung iba. Magaganda kasi sila.”
A small kitten with a straw rope for a collar brushed against my bag as I took this photo.
“3 years na akong nag-aalaga ng pusa,” said the 60-something Aling Sally. “Sila ang tumutubos sa buhay ko.”
She was sick when she was first given a cat. Since then, she claimed her pets have healed her, taking the hit whenever she feels sick.
“Sila yung nagkakasakit kapag masama pakiramdam ko, tapos bumubuti na ang pakiramdam ko.”
Aling Sally claimed that some people give her medicine and food for her cats, and was offered money should she decide to go back home to Negros Oriental (or Occidental. I’m sorry I didn’t hear it quite well).
“Kaso kung uuwi ako, gusto ko sana dalhin yung mga pusa ko. Bawal daw magdala ng alaga sa barko, kailangan ng special permit,” she said. “Mahal ko sila.”
I chatted with her for around 15 minutes, until I had to go on with my afternoon. “Daan ka ulit dito kung gusto mo,” said Aling Sally. Then a guy wearing a cap got two sticks of smoke from her wares.