Darwin, the street kid
He was the second of nine children of an alcoholic father and a laundrywoman. Due to extreme poverty, he and a younger sister became scavengers to help put food on the table. School was not a priority.
At age six, the initial symptoms of a rare muscular condition became evident in Darwin. It was later diagnosed as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive genetic condition characterized by the weakening of the muscles in the legs; more prevalent in males who have a life expectancy below 30 years old.
Due to their dire condition, his family was eventually forced to live on the streets. His father took advantage of his condition by leaving him at the Libertad LRT (light rail transit) station to beg. At the end of the day, his father would take most of the money for alcoholic drinks. But Darwin was able to set aside some amount to buy food for his siblings.
A special child of TnK
This was where workers of the Anak-TnK Foundation found him. By then, he was no longer able to stand on his legs although he used his arms to remain upright. He agreed to go with them and live at this center for children with special needs.
It was at this Center where he discovered the Catholic faith. He developed a personal and intimate relationship with Christ. Not a day would pass without him praying and entrusting himself to Jesus. No one knows exactly when it began as his parents never taught him about the faith. Shortly after his 12th birthday, he was baptized at the EDSA shrine
(site of the peaceful revolt of 1986).
A year later, he made his First Holy Communion and received the sacrament of Confirmation.
His condition continued to deteriorate. In spite of this, he never complained even in the difficult moments of his illness. He was always smiling. This encouraged other children when they too faced trials and pain. One day, he told the priest of the Foundation: “You know, Father, I think Jesus wants me to hold on until the end, just like He did.”
A young witness of faith
A caregiver of the Foundation recounted: “One day, when Darwin was feverish, he insisted on being helped out of bed so he can join the others in the Center and lead the evening prayer. It was Jesus before anything else.” His life was illuminated by his closeness to Christ.
Already very weak and breathless, he spent his last week in the hospital. Despite his condition, Darwin showed his appreciation to the priest of the Foundation when he arrived at his bedside: “Thank you for everything, Father.” The next day, Darwin was intubated. He could no longer speak, but would write down his thoughts in a notebook.
A remarkable holy journey
He went through his personal Holy Week. On Thursday, September 20, 2012, he experienced a spiritual battle:
Darwin: “We must pray.”
Priest: “Of course, Darwin. But why do you need to pray?”
Darwin: “Because I am fighting.”
Priest: “Fighting against your disease?”
Darwin: “I am fighting against the devil.”
He received the Anointing of the Sick that day. On Friday, he looked peaceful and wore a big smile. With much difficulty, he wrote his last two sentences in a notebook:
“A huge ‘Thank you.’ ” (Maraming, maraming salamat.)
and “I am very happy.” (Masayang-masaya ako.)
He passed away on September 23, 2012, a Sunday, the day of the Lord’s Resurrection. His was a spiritual testimony, as his life was only joy and thanksgiving.
Darwin’s funeral mass was celebrated in a church full of children from the Foundation, all dressed in white. Another angel had reached heaven.
Darwin was buried at the Pasay City Public Cemetery where many people still come and visit his grave to this day.
 “Anak” is offspring or child in Tagalog; “TnK” is “Tulay ng Kabataan” or a bridge for children. The foundation aims to take care of Manila’s street children.