Mang Tony and the luckiest kitten on Edsa | Inquirer Entertainment
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Mang Tony and the luckiest kitten on Edsa

/ 03:36 AM December 20, 2014

It is high noon on the 24th of December, and a kitten is making its way down the middle of Edsa. He is so small and everything else is so big that no one notices him taking step after wobbly step in the narrow gutter, the rumble of trains on one side, the grumble of vehicles on the other.

No one, that is, but taxi driver Tony, whose taxi has been idling in traffic and has been casting his eyes about for something interesting to see. “Why, I don’t believe it,” he thinks to himself, rubbing his eyes. “How in the world did this tiny thing end up here?”

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He looks around to see if anyone else has noticed, but there’s nothing but tense, squinting faces looking straight ahead, no doubt thinking of the many things they have yet to do, if only they can get a move on.

Orange ball

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Well, he thinks, I can’t just sit here. And, he opens his car door, scoops up the kitten and puts it on the seat beside him, where it promptly curls up into a striped orange ball and goes to sleep. It doesn’t take more than five seconds. He’s just a scrap of a thing, Mang Tony thinks, my passengers probably won’t even know he’s there.

Later on, a harried young mother loaded down with packages, and a wriggling son get on Mang Tony’s cab. The boy won’t sit still. He squirms about, gets into the packages, kicks at the seats, then he stops. “Mama, shh,” he whispers. “There’s a baby cat sleeping in front!”

“Thank you,” his mother says to Mang Tony when they get off. “That was the most peaceful ride I’ve had this month!” Then, she gives him a big tip. He doesn’t want to take it, it’s too big—but, she insists. “You get your family something nice for Noche Buena,” she says.

After Mang Tony drops her off, he stops to pick up a tired trio of backpackers. One opens the door to the front seat. “Whoa,” he says, “you already have a passenger!”

“Oh, sorry, sir!,” says Mang Tony, who scrambles to tuck the kitten into his spare shirt. “There’s no need,” says the young man. “Leave him there, I’ll sit in the back.” Mang Tony is peppered with questions throughout the trip.

How did he happen to be driving around with a kitten, they want to know. What is he going to do with it? Does he know how to take care of a kitten?

“Well,” says Mang Tony, “I was actually thinking that I’d give him to my grandkids for Christmas.” Everyone thinks this is a good idea, and they all give him advice about kitten care.

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It turns out that they’re studying to be vets. “A kitten needs a lot of food,” they tell him when they get off. “Here’s a little extra something to help you out.” And they give him a big tip!

Again, Mang Tony doesn’t want to take it, it’s much too big—but, they insist. “You’ll need it,” they tell him.

By this time, Mang Tony realizes that he’s made more than enough for the day—and that he even has enough left over to get a nice ham and, maybe, even some cheese for Noche Buena!

But, as he’s driving homewards, he sees a man standing by the side of the road, sagging under the weight of bags of all shapes and sizes, and fruitlessly waving down taxis!

Hard time

“He’s going to have a hard time getting a ride,” he says to the kitten, which is now awake and licking its paws. Mang Tony thinks briefly about the ham and cheese that he’s probably not going to have time to get, and rolls to a stop in front of him.

“Thank goodness!,” the man gasps, after they’ve packed all the bags in and placed the kitten in a new bed. “I thought no one would ever stop!”

The man, it turns out, is back in the country after many years abroad. “I’m surprising my family,” he tells Mang Tony. “They don’t know that I’m back home.” He had been trying to get a taxi, he says, for almost two hours! “I didn’t think I was going to make it in time for Noche Buena!”

As they drive down Edsa, it seems to Mang Tony that the lane they’re on is always clear! And the snarls of traffic, which had been ever-present throughout the day, unknot themselves and melt away at their approach! So, they arrive at their destination much sooner than expected.

“I’m sorry you won’t have time to get the ham and cheese you wanted,” the man turns to Mang Tony, who’s more than a little surprised, since he hadn’t mentioned it at all! “But, I brought many things with me, and I’d like to give you something.” At that, he gets one of his many bags and puts it back in the taxi. “Oh, there’s no need, sir,” says Mang Tony. “I’m just doing my job!”

But, the man insists. “Merry Christmas!,” he says, and before he knows it, Mang Tony finds himself back in the driver seat, driving bemusedly home, with a big bag of goodies at the back and a sleepy kitten in the front seat.

And this is how Mang Tony’s family—and his neighbors, besides—were able to have the best Noche Buena that anyone could ever remember celebrating in all their lives—thanks to the luckiest, little kitten on Edsa!

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