Lito "Tatang Pusa" Villegas houses stray cats wandering around the Tomas Morato area. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Tatang Pusa's "mobile shelter" for the cats is an improvised push cart he brings with him as he works as a parking attendant during the day. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
He uses the money he earns as a parking attendant to feed himself and the cats he shelters. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Tatang Pusa has stayed in Quezon City the longest, compared to Manila and in Mindanao. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Tatang Pusa buys excess food from a canteen at Tomas Morato whose owner is a fellow cat lover. The owner also allows him to wash up in her home and charge his phone. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
The makeshift cat rescue cart was given to Tatang Pusa by a family whose wandering daughter was found by him. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Tatang Pusa said he has housed as many as 20 cats. Currently, he has 6 in his care named Poknat, Pikatkat, Muning, and generally Ming-Ming for the kittens. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Tatang Pusa keeps the kittens in the cage since they tend to get run over by cars. The larger cats, he keeps tied to the cart. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Tatang Pusa hopes to someday have a place for his own and his rescued cats. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Tatang Pusa vows to continue rescuing cats as long as he lives, "maliban na lang kung kunin ako ni Lord (unless the Lord takes me away)." Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
QUEZON CITY - A cat saved his life when he was an infant. Now, he is paying it forward by playing guardian angel to stray cats.
Parking attendant Lito Villegas, also known as "Tatang Pusa," promised to rescue the lives of stray cats after being told how a feline saved his life when he was little.
Villegas said his own grandparents were shocked after coming home one day and seeing a snake slithering toward him.
The family's house cat then killed the intruder on the spot, saving the one-year-old Villegas.
Now 63, the Surigao-raised Villegas has rescued numerous "pusakals" or street felines from being run over by vehicles, particularly in the restaurant strip at Tomas Morato in Quezon City where he performs his job as a parking aide.
He pities the cats for being treated no better than sewer rats.
"Ngayon, napapansin ko ang mga pusa parang binabalewala dito sa Manila. Parang walang halaga. Nahalintulad sila sa daga," he lamented.
So Villegas took action, taking in cats loitering in the streets. He has even stopped cars -- and was nearly run over -- just to retrieve kittens crossing the streets.
"Kasi kahit nakitang tumatawid sa kalsada, ang mga sasakyan sinasagasaan [sila]. Hindi man lang iniiwasan. Buti pa ang aso, iniiwasan," he said.
(Even though they see cats crossing the road, people in cars run them over. Dogs fare better, people avoid running over them.)
Despite having little, he takes in as many cats as he can, keeping them in a makeshift cart funded by a family as a reward for helping locate a lost daughter once.
"Kaysa masagasaan lang, kasi tabing kalsada lang, tinatanggap ko rin. Kung hindi ko tanggapin, ililigaw. Kawawa sila," he said.
(Rather than getting run over, I take them in. If I don't, they'll be mistreated. Such a pity.)
Some people have also donated a cage for the kittens, ropes for the older cats, and even cat food and medicine at one point.
Currently, Villegas has 6 cats, 3 kittens, and 3 full-grown under his care.
He has taken in as much as 20, but most have died due to hunger.
On regular days, he uses his earnings as a parking attendant to purchase leftover food for the kittens from an eatery, whose owner has also passed on new-born kittens.
Villegas vows to continue saving cats as long as he lives.
"Maliban na lang kung kukunin ako ni Lord, ay hindi ko na sila maalagaan," he said.
(Except when the Lord says it's my time, then that would be it.)