Steve Jobs and Manong Arsenio

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
The cyber community is abuzz with beautiful words—tribute after tribute—for Steve. No techie worth his pixels can ever say enough about this modern icon, dead at 56.

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.


Tribo said...

a wonderful tribute :D they will both be missed

Yay Padua-Olmedo said...

How sobering, Grace! I pray Steve Jobs made a decision for Jesus so that He is now in His presence. And I thank God that no matter how insignificant (in our eyes) one's life may be, the Jesus that we serve ensures abundant eternal life- and that's reason enough to hold on to His amazing incomparable grace. Grace is the greatest leveler of all. And it's not because of who we are but whose we are.

Anonymous said...

Agayus ti lua ken nairut ti rakep ni Manang Nieves idi simmangpet kami in full force. Naabutanmi pay idiay Mercado's. Inyarasaasna nga idanonko kenka ti panagyaman. Kanayon kano nga ulit-uliten ni manong diay naudi a suratmo kenkuana. Daytoy ti insuratko iti bassit a papel idi inyawatko ti naggapu kenka sakbay a pumanaw kami (magsiyawat dagiti ub-ubbing a kakabsat): "Aya-ayatenmi a Manang Nieves, Addaman wenno awan kami a sibabagi iti daytoy a pammacada kenni Manong Arsenio, adda kami iti sibaymo iti cararag ken espiritu..kankanayon... siaayat".

His extended family, the whole faith community praises God for the life of Manong Arsenio. We will miss him so.

Grace D. Chong said...

Thank you, Tribo. May we, those whose lives they touched, look forward to the grace we will receive as we reflect on the way they lived.

Grace D. Chong said...

Hi, Yay! I hope he'd been able to read Joshua Harris' letter. He had enough time--I think he was in hospital for sometime.

Grace D. Chong said...

Hi, Anonymous,

I would have wanted to be there for Mg Nieves but my schedule this term is close to impossible. Thank you for writing the note for me. The least I could do was to write this tribute.

Anonymous said...

Your insights amaze me. The world knew Steve Jobs. You have talked about Manong Arsenio. I'm just glad to hear your thoughts.

Grace D. Chong said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and for your kind comments. I appreciate it very much.

Anonymous said...

hi auntie,salamat ti ado ti tribute mo ken Tatay in behalf of my family...you know what auntie no mamin ano na nga ibaga kaniak diay panangasikasom kaniana idi burol dadi lola Pat nagragsak nga intimpla-am kano pay ti kape na bayat ti panagtong- tong mi for two months nga kina addak idiay Pilipinas isu ti ibag- baga kaniak daydiay I can see into his face the sweet smile he's so happy....thank you very much auntie we are so blessed to have you in our lives...GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS...with LOVE and PRAYERS,Raquel Sanchez-Marquez

Grace D. Chong said...

Saanca unayen nga agladingit ta adda kenni Apo ni Tatay-mon. Inay-ayat mi nga naimbag manipud idi ubbing kami pay. Adu unay iti inar-aramid na idiay capilya nga isu ti nangipakita no casatno ti panagsebi na kenni Apo. He is with God and enjoying his fellowship with HIM. Take care of yourself.