Mr. Moses Joshua B. Atega
No one knows Sillimanians like this Sillimanian. To a lot of people, he is the man in Silliman, the air in alumni affairs, the “ion” in Silliman connection. And even though he is too modest to admit it, he’s probably the only one in Silliman who can rattle off from the top of his head a Sillimanian or two in any major island in the whole archipelago – or, for that matter, in any major city in the world where Sillimanians dwell.
Call him Moses, (Kuya) Mong or (Kuya) Moe, but Moses Joshua Atega is Silliman’s upgrade of the prophets of yore, preaching the university’s virtues to graduating high school students from Bongao to Batanes, enticing them to come to Dumaguete and convert to the peculiarities of Silliman’s ways. Having worked with Alumni Affairs for many years, his network of connections has expanded to such a degree that many turn to him for a rundown on Sillimanians wherever they may be. And because he has also amassed a vast wealth of knowledge on the people and places that he had visited, you can ask him just about anyone and anything that matters. Even friends of friends and casual acquaintances from out of town also find it convenient to bug him for itsy-bitsy bits on Silliman and Dumaguete.
Moe hails from Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte but also considers Davao City (and Dumaguete) his second home. He has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Social Psychology. For four years after graduation, he took public relations jobs that took him around the country, teaching art appreciation on the side and writing scripts for TV ads in Davao City. He has served Silliman for 19 years, starting in 1995 as Guidance Counselor of the College of Engineering and Design, College of Mass Communication, College of Performing and Visual Arts (COPVA), and College of Agriculture. In 1997, he was appointed as Officer in Charge of both the Office of Alumni Affairs and Office of Information and Publications (OIP). All the while, he was also teaching Art Appreciation at COPVA.
Those who can’t, teach – maybe, but then there are those who choose to chase their Muse obliquely, as when Moe decided to ditch the brush to teach instead the ars of art and be of beauty. Rather than decipher the quirks of the canvas and the spell of the easel, rather than hone his craft to unleash his full potential, he plants the seeds of love for the arts, and cultivates art’s flowers that bloom, in other people’s gardens. A long-time member of the Order of the Golden Palette, Silliman’s pioneering art organization, he deems it nobler to pursue art by showing young minds the finer points of beauty or by helping budding local auteurs feature their nouveau visual oeuvres. He may be a psychologist by training, but his passion is art; his graduate thesis delves into the link between art and psychology.
Since he turned 21, when it dawned on him that he has yet to visit many of the country’s 7,107 islands, Moe has never celebrated his birthday twice on the same island. But that’s just one of the curious things about him that amuse his friends and intrigue those who don’t know him well. And because he believes in being productive, he dips his hands in just about anything that smells art and public relations, especially when it has something to do with Silliman. He organizes art exhibits and festivals on and off campus, facilitates poetry readings, and lends his charm with the microphone to all sorts of art and cultural gatherings. At present, aside from his duties at the Alumni Affairs Office, he also serves as the International Students Adviser, the dorm manager of Vernon Hall, VIP Relations Officer of the Silliman Writers Workshop, and a member of the Cultural Affairs Committee.
A picture may paint a thousand words, but a thousand words will never be enough to paint a picture of Moe. One can only glimpse the full image of this one-of-a-kind Sillimanian by pasting together the bits and pieces of his portrait in the minds those who know him quite a bit. And Moe doesn’t mind that at all: in life, as in art, mystery keeps beauty company.
Describe yourself in three words.
What is your mantra in life?
“Always give value to where you are needed.”
What makes you laugh?
The awkward moments of performing artists.
What makes you smile?
Looking at good-looking people because it’s like contemplating a good work of art.
What makes you cry?
When people don’t see the beauty of something that is beautiful. So do good acceptance speeches at the Oscars and scenes in a movie that call for understanding of human nature.
What’s your favorite time of the day and why?
I’m a morning person, and that’s precisely why I love Dumaguete and its fantastic sunrise.
What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
Sunday, because that’s the day that I give thanks the one who made all the beautiful things in this world.
What do you love doing when not working?
Tending to my plants, especially my favorite – Roselle, a variety of hibiscus that used to be the main ingredient of the “pink juice”, the welcome drink that they used to serve in the old missionary homes in Silliman.
What is your favorite hangout in the University?
It used to be the End House. Now I hang out at Duchess de Dauin when I need to unwind.
What makes you blush?
Being caught looking at someone that I like.
If you were an actor, who would you be?
Ben Kingsley, especially when he portrayed Gandhi.
Could you tell us something about yourself?
I love the Visual Arts and love to teach its basics to kids (including bigger ones in Art Appreciation class).
What was your favorite game growing up?
Mind Games and Game of Generals.
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
Being on a mountaintop, on a beach, or out at sea.
What song makes your day?
“Someone in the Dark” by Michael Jackson in the movie” E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial”
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
Read the scripture for five minutes.
What’s your idea of a family?
Family is not just father, mother, and children, but also people who mean so much to you and who care about you.