One of my goals when I began this site was to bring Marah and Tony to 2012. A lot of my fellow soap fans had never seen Guiding Light when it was truly great entertainment, they saw the show when it was in its “looks like it was filmed in a parking lot” phase. So when I began talking about Marah and Tony and then proceeded to show them some of my videos they commented on the visible chemistry…and long story short “I Believe in the Mystery” became a reality. So as the new generation of Marah and Tony fans started following the journey I kept getting the same statement, “I really hate Catalina.” And boy could I relate! Because in 2002, when watching the story unfold live, I was definitely hating Catalina myself.
Fast forward ten years later, and while I still don’t like the character I have to admit that a small part of me also has pity, yes pity-though limited, for the character as well. But there is no denying Catalina’s impact in the Marony story, she was a major player for more than two years and the Ben/Marah/Tony/Catalina story was one of the bigger storylines in later 2001/early 2002.
And to clarify: while I didn’t particularly like the character I had to appreciate the great acting by Jessica Jimenez. She was quite believable in the role of Catalina Quesada. A newbie to daytime television, she landed the role of Catalina right out of high school and was even nominated for an Outstanding Younger Actress Emmy in 2002.
We first met Catalina in 2000 when she escaped Cuba on a ship bound for San Cristobel. However, that trip was cut short when the ship was raided by INS. But luck was on Catalina’s side because Reva Shayne and Noah Chase helped bring her to Springfield and Reva gave her a place to live among her family. As she settled into Springfield one of the first people to truly understand and be a friend to her was Tony Santos. He, just like most viewers at this point, were sympathetic to the Cuban refugee looking for a better life. In fact, she was a pretty likable character at first. She was hard-working (she had two jobs to put herself through school) and pretty caring and considerate of others….but how quickly those tables turned.
Catalina felt that Marah was using Tony and Sam against each other (which admittedly she was) and felt they both men deserved better. So needless to say Marah and Catalina were not friends and were never going to be friends. But deeper than that was the realization that Catalina had fallen in love with Tony. And from then on Catalina wasn’t above using any means necessary to get Tony’s attention, even through manipulation.
A big part of Marah Lewis’s character during the teen years was the focus on her virginity. This was especially true when Catalina sent an essay Marah wrote about being glad she was a virgin to the entire school causing Marah to be harassed. And just like in every Marah and Tony bad moment; when Tony thinks he had lost Marah he did something to really lose her, like jump into bed with Catalina.
Catalina’s big downfall was Maria Santos taking a shine to her. She saw Catalina liked Tony and not only encouraged Catalina to pursue her grandson but even arranged it so that Catalina and Marah would be roommates in college to further drive home the point that Tony had moved on with someone better for him . This alliance would benefit Catalina greatly, until Catalina overplayed her hand and intentionally got pregnant in order for Tony to marry her. This deception, coupled with repeated threats against the Santos family, proved hazardous to Catalina’s health. Under orders from Maria, Romeo Jones carried out the murder of Catalina Quesada on April 16, 2002.
No Catalina wasn’t “crazy” in the traditional sense, but her thinking was way out of left field a lot of the time. For instance, she would always throw it in Marah’s face that she, not Marah, had slept with Tony. In her mind sex was the ultimate proof of where Tony’s heart belonged. There is a scene when Catalina is confessing tricking Tony in church and she is going on and on about how, “Marah didn’t sleep with him and he loves her more now than ever”. What Catalina could never understand was that Tony and Marah had several opportunities to have sex but it was TONY who always stopped before they got to that point. To Tony, Marah was perfect and pure and for once in his life he was doing the right thing by NOT pushing her for intimacy. What Catalina could never understand was that Tony’s desperate longing looks at Marah were not because Marah denied him sexual release but because she was the light to his darkness and without her he was lost.
Yes I pity Catalina at times because she was such a sad, pathetic character at the end. So desperate to hold on to a man who didn’t love her, would never love her, and who was only with her because he thought she carried his child. Had she accepted that Tony’s love would never be reciprocated and moved on perhaps she might have been able to leave Springfield alive. But then again, probably not. Because even after ten years and with a new generation of viewers, there is still no love for Catalina.