|Edwin Catana gets ready to give a wall at the Visions of Hope Christian School in Laguna|
at smooth cement finish.
Covered with Tattoos. “Getting these was extremely painful,” Edwin Catana says, pulling up his sleeves to reveal arms fully covered with tattooed-on symbols. “But there was almost nothing else left to do in prison,” he explains with a shrug. In fact about 75% percent of his body is covered with images ranging from the romantic to the religious to the grotesque -- permanent reminders of a turbulent past.
Edwin’s past could have been vastly different though. He could have left for the United States to live with an adoptive family when he was 13. He had been a ward at a Christian orphanage in Quezon City and his adoption papers were nearing completion. That’s when he confessed to the orphanage management that he was not actually an orphan as he claimed a few years earlier. The truth was that he had run away from home to escape being abused by an alcoholic father.
A visit to Edwin’s home dashed all hopes of his ever being given up for adoption. “Kaya kong palamunin ang sarili kong anak!” (“I’m capable of feeding my own son!”) his father bellowed. Since the man was just as abusive as ever, and because Edwin would just be an added burden to his mother, a laundrywoman, he chose to drift from one boys’ home to another, until he became too old to be accepted at these institutions. After that he became involved with drugs, women, and crime.
Imprisonment. He was caught carrying a gun on the way to a planned hold-up one day, and was thrown into prison for illegal possession of a firearm. Released on parole four years later, he joined a community of homeless people living on an abandoned piece of land called Sarimanok near the Manila Bay waterfront development area.
These homeless people were being ministered to by the Kaibigan Ministry of the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) through feeding and Bible study sessions. During one of those Bible studies, Edwin renewed his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ whom he had first encountered back at the Christian orphanage that was his refuge as an abused child.
A few months later, along with several other men from Sarimanok, Edwin was recruited to do construction work at the Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center, also managed by CCT. The spiritual development program observed at the Tagaytay construction site – including morning and evening devotions, Saturday corporate worship along with the retreat center staff, and Sunday worship services – helped him grow in his relationship with God.
|Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Catana on their wedding day.|
Responsible Father. Today Edwin still reports regularly to his parole officer who has noted the definite change in his behaviour.
Back in his wild days, Edwin fathered three children who are now in their teens. He had no role whatsoever in their upbringing. In a mass wedding of former street dwellers organized by the Kaibigan Ministry in November 2011, he married the mother of his youngest child, a two-year old girl. He prays he will be a good husband and father, and hopes his daughter will never have reason to run away from home and follow his once-errant footsteps.