Text by Maja Sollegue. Images courtesy of Shell National Students Art Competition.

Continuing the tradition of nation-building through art, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation launches its 55th National Students Art Competition (NSAC) last May 27, 2022. This year’s theme ‘Sulong Sining’ challenges the Filipino youth to become the country’s vanguards towards a better and brighter future through art.

The combination of ‘Sulong’ (charging forward) and ‘Sining’ (art) is a call for artists to express and share the future they envision through their creative talents, especially amidst global health and economic crises.

“‘Sulong Sining’ is very encouraging with fervent hopes to motivate our young artists to learn, grow, and share that talent through this chosen medium. The theme aptly demonstrates our resilience as well as culture bearers and guardians surviving the many challenges we all face during the pandemic,” Marlies Gustilo, Director of the Alaya Museum, said in her closing remark.

This year’s 55th edition of Shell NSAC is marked as “the start of an exciting new chapter for this five-decades-long competition. A legacy founded on promoting Filipino art and inspiring the youth to greatness, Shell NSAC has always endeavored to help student artists find their footing in the local art world, offering guidance and opportunities to push their talents ever forward,” Serge Bernal, Pilipinas Shell Vice President for Corporate Relations, said in his opening remark.

55th NSAC Launch


Post-World War 2 saw a collective effort to rebuild the Filipino nation and legacy. In 1951, Shell launched its first National Students Art Competition. Formerly a calendar art competition, Shell NSAC transformed into a recognized and respected platform for emerging young Filipino visual artists for the next five decades. However, the declaration of Martial Law in 1972 halted this tradition for 16 years. It was revived in 1989 due to popular demand.

As the competition saw an increase in entries every year, new categories were created. Last year’s 54th Shell NSAC had over 1,700 student participants, the 2nd most number of entries in the competition’s history.

“To join an art contest is really to put yourself to a challenge. It’s not really about winning, it’s more about the participation. I always tell my former students to be like a child again when doing their art. Be open-minded, look at things freely and imaginatively, though still being serious and honest with your work,” Nestor Vinluan, recipient of the 1974 CCP Thirteen Artists Award, shared in a panel discussion.

The decades witnessed the creation of countless masterpieces tackling a variety of themes and the blossoming of Filipino creative talents and individuals such as Ang Kiukok, Ben Cabrera, Angel Cacnio, Jose Joya, and Federico Alcuaz, to name a few.


With the consequences brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, young Filipino artists are challenged by Shell to not only share their talent but more so, to respond to the call of the times.

“Shell can nurture and make them become mature on what’s happening. It’s very important to chronicle the times. The best artworks in the Philippines or in the world have strong images based on current events. I challenge all the future artists at Shell to make their story be heard and seen,” Charlie Co, co-owner of the Negros-based museum Orange Project, said during the event’s panel discussion.

Students from all across the Philippines may choose to enter the following categories: watercolor, oil/acrylic, sculpture, and digital fine arts.

Entries are accepted until September 5, 2022. For more information on the mechanics, you may visit https://www.shell.com.ph/energy-and-innovation/make-the-future/national-students-art-competition-juan-art-nation.html

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