I am sad because Steve Jobs was my dad.

“The guy holding an apple is Dr. Campos’ evil twin. Just kidding, it’s an apple.” from MAGDALO, Volume XXII-4, Jan-Feb 2007

(The following is a Facebook note Mr Jean Paul Catacutan wrote on 6 October 2011. The source URL is https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150319891758635. Republished with the author’s express permission.)

I come from the Third World-I was born and raised in Ilagan, Isabela, Philippines. I don’t want to give the impression that my town is poor or primitive. I know that the “Third World” description puts up an image of an unbelievably crowded, dusty, non-cemented road or a market full of beggars and people suffering from starvation. But my town isn’t like that. We are not poor. I’ve never heard of anyone from my town or my province who starved to death. We were ok. Just ok.

Growing up in a small town was weird. For me, at least it was. You see, I was an oddity in that I didn’t appreciate the simplicity that was part of the culture where I’m from. My parents were agents of the awesome. They were not the most successful couple I know – even their marriage fell apart when I was 11 – but the thing about them, especially my mom, was that they never raised us like simple townsfolk. We traveled a lot. By the age of 10 we’ve gone to every beautiful spot in the Philippines and have been to the US. We were encouraged to read encyclopedias, they got me comics and hard-to-find toys and in this, we were indirectly shown the importance of knowing the difference between good and great. They would leave us with our own devices with bits and pieces of lessons that subconsciously taught us to never settle for the simple and always go for the spectacular.

The first computer I owned was a Toshiba laptop sent to us by my mom who got the hand-me-down unit from her work in the US back in 2003. It probably had the power of a modern smart phone but when folded, it was the size of an office table drawer – the one in the middle if it’s the big desk with three drawers. We weren’t poor but we were not rich either so we settled. From then and for a while, I used PCs. Now, I don’t want to be the guy who talks crap about Windows just because of my preference for Apple computers. I used Windows computers and was quite happy with them. Installation of Anti-Virus programs became second nature when getting a new computer. I was contented. But then I got to finally earn enough money in college to buy a Mac Mini. That Mac Mini changed everything.

I was so amazed by the sleekness of it, both inside and out. Unlike so many gadgets I had, it was the only piece of technology that I considered an artwork. It was the only piece of technology that made me want to learn about the people who made it. It was much like how archeologists are so amazed with olden-time technological advances that they go to great lengths to know more about the mental makeup of the civilizations who made them. If 2012 is true, the following species to rule the world will dig out our remains and say that we were a great race because we as humans came up with Apple products.

Steve Jobs became that guy you wanna be when you grow up. At least for me, he became that guy. I loved being a perfectionist. My staff at the college paper hated how I would let my red pen rip through articles as I edited them. How I would tell them that they were probably sleepy that time they were doing the articles. I would zoom in at every line in Adobe InDesign just so each text in every column were lined up correctly. We were working on a magazine when I got the Mac Mini and the thing I didn’t tell my staff was that, unlike most college papers, we will not be competing against other college papers or our predecessors. In terms of output, I wanted to go beyond the aesthetic norms. (referring to MAGDALO Magazine, Vol XXII-4, January-Februay 2007-EM)

Like so many people, I became a disciple of Steve Jobs. He was a technological Jesus. In Jobs I trusted. It was not just because he built a company but it was because he built on an idea and never settled for anything less than what the company can make based on that idea. I know this is probably the nth time you’ve read this statement but I guess the fact that it is the nth time you’ve read it just shows how strongly people believe this. How strongly people believe him. What other company has fans that appreciate it at an emotional level?

I think it’s because he’s an artist. The kind who doesn’t let his art get screwed up just because of what people think, expect or demand. But in the end, what he wanted all along was a thing that is beneficial to all humans. The first iMac’s enclosure was entirely plastic. Environmentalists had a lot to say about it but Steve and designer Johnny Ive didn’t give a shit. It was beautiful and it went beyond what was expected of computers during that period. Even now with the iPhone 4S’ launch, a lot of people were disappointed about the absence of an iPhone 5. I was, too. But in retrospect, I realized that they probably didn’t care–not because they didn’t give a damn about the customers but because iPhone 5 was not ready and they would rather disappoint you with its absence than give you a half-assed product–the fact that they didn’t simply rename the iPhone 4, with all its new features, as iPhone 5 is a testament to that, I believe.

The news of his death has saddened me. It’s pretty depressing, actually. I thought it was pathetic of me to feel this way about a guy I never met. I told my friend Johnbee about this and he replied with “Because you’re a Mac child. Steve Jobs raised you and made you who you are now.” and I thought it was heartwarmingly true. Steve has fathered a lot of children in an intellectual sense of the word. Even my 13-year-old sister grew up using Macs and is a proud iPad owner. She’s also a Mac child, I believe, and it shows. She’s sad about this too.

We did not just lose a great person; we lost a great human being. He is probably the only one of his kind in this generation. I mean, a person so intellectually unique that he moved an entire generation forward in a technological renaissance. I for one am proud to say I lived during his time much like how other people are proud to say they walked the Earth the same period Da Vinci did.

He was the embodiment of all the teachings I got during my childhood in my third-world town about going for the spectacular. Being surrounded by people who are simple and contented and then later seeing that there is such a person as Steve Jobs puts things in perspective. He was spectacular. He will always be. And I will always be thankful that he lived.

Jean Paul Catacutan first joined the MAGDALO Editorial Board in January 2005 as a graphic artist. He eventually signed on in July 2005 as a graphic artist and later rose through the ranks to become editor-in-chief in June 2006 while contributing material for UNO Magazine. He stepped down from the paper in 2007. He graduated from Emilio Aguinaldo College with a BS Nursing degree in 2008.

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