While the world is grieving the passing of Steve Jobs, I am privately mourning the death of someone nobody knew but his family and friends.
I called him Manong (Ilocano honorific for an older male) Arsenio—he who married my childhood friend and worked with his hands all his life on an insignificant farm, hidden in the middle of nowhere.
Steve never heard of Arsenio, neither did Manong Arsenio ever hear of Steve.
|(Left) Steve Jobs with one of his babies on stage; (left) Manong Arsenio with his wife at his home|
No words will ever be written about Manong Arsenio, 71. His friends and family can't write prose nor poetry.
Steve was the reason millions of people joined the computer industry, or even care about technology at all. Yes, he made the computer personal, and the smartphone fun.
Mankind always awaited with bated breath another revolutionary product from Steve—the iMac, OS X, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, the iPad. These products have made their homes in many work rooms, family rooms and bedrooms.
Manong Arsenio didn't own a computer, simply because he had no need for one. To communicate with someone, he walked the distance. On Sundays, he donned his best for the worship service, where he awaited with bated breath the next lesson about Jesus from the pastor and his Sunday School teacher. On weekdays, he helped with odd jobs in church.
While Steve walked on the spotlit stage with his iMac in a brown envelope, Manong Arsenio toiled under the heat of the sun with a spade, mixing cement for his church's walkway.
While Steve addressed raucous crowds to launch the latest invention of his extraordinary brain, Manong Arsenio rallied a small group of timid elders and deacons to make do with available funds to re-build the church ravaged by Typhoon Ondoy.
When Steve was diagnosed with cancer, he got the best medical care from the best physicians in the best hospitals; Manong Arsenio opted not to undergo further treatment because he couldn't afford the expensive dialysis and medicines.
Many of Steve's fans are cursing—in unprintable words—the disease that killed him. All of Manong Arsenio's family and friends, although in grief, are praising God for the blessed life he lived.
This is a world of contrasts.
Without meaning to cast judgment on the two men, who both touched my life, I think the difference lies not in their status in society—how much money they amassed, how much education they earned, or how many people lionized them.
It's in how they acknowledged the source of what they were and what they had.
From what I read, Steve Jobs (or the people who admired him anyway) believed he had it all in him—a creative genius.
From what I know, Manong Arsenio (or the people in his circle anyway) believed that everything is by grace. And he was exceedingly grateful to the Source of this wondrous grace all his life, till his very last breath.
Goodbye, Steve; till we meet again, Manong Arsenio.