Aldrine Alarcon’s vibrant vision and passion for community creation are shaping the future of Philippine art.

As Shell National Students Art Competition (NSAC) nurtures and showcases the vibrant artistry of young Filipino artists, with a history spanning over five decades, it has become a part of the Philippines’ cultural fabric, celebrating and preserving the essence of Filipino arts.

Shell NSAC is a respected art competition that inspires young Filipino artists to be creative and innovative. It shows the power of art to shape society. Despite the challenges faced by many Filipino artists, Shell NSAC continues to be a valuable part of the country’s art scene.

Embracing an opportunity to be seen and heard, emerging artists find themselves propelled into the spotlight as their creative brilliance takes the center stage in Shell NSAC. This year, as Shell NSAC once again opens its doors to aspiring Filipino artists, its alumni, Aldrine Alarcon, Jonathan Joven, and Jigger Cruz look back at their journey and reflect how competitions like Shell NSAC have provided a platform for emerging artists in the country.

Aldrine Alarcon on Creating an Art Community

Born into an artistic family, Aldrine Alarcon’s journey into the art world was destined. He developed a deep appreciation for art from an early age. Alarcon’s natural talent for color balance and blending abstract and realism set him apart in the art scene, even before his participation in the Shell NSAC.

Despite Alarcon’s prior achievements, his involvement in Shell NSAC had a profound impact on his artistic perspective. The competition broadened his horizons, allowing him to appreciate art in all its forms and not limit his creativity to one discipline. His proud assertion that “Kapag Pinoy, ang trademark ay puno. There’s no negative space ‘pag pinoy ang artist,” (The trademark of Filipino artists is that it’s full in a sense that there’s no negative space) highlights the distinct style and depth of Philippine art.

Optimistic about the future, Alarcon envisions a more vibrant Filipino art scene with younger artists and collectors joining. Alarcon aims to shape the Philippine art scene through community creation, knowledge sharing, and inspiring artists across different communities. His advice to emerging artists, “Be truthful to yourself,” highlights the importance of authenticity in artistic expression.

Emil Aldrine Alarcon, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, “Gabay ng Kalikasan,” Calendar Winner, 44th Shell NSAC 2011.

Jonathan Joven on Fostering a Vibrant and Versatile Art Scene

Jonathan Joven embarked on an artistic self-discovery journey, inspired by a class advisor’s admiration for Smokey Mountain. This ignited his passion for art, which was further nurtured during his studies at UP Fine Arts. Joven strongly advocates for the relevance of art, valuing diverse perspectives and visions.

The Shell NSAC played a key role in Joven’s artistic journey, fostering confidence and a healthy sense of competition within himself. The prestige of being an NSAC alumnus inspired him to excel, drawing inspiration from past participants’ works.

When asked to describe the Philippine art scene in comparison to other parts of the world, Joven proudly points out its versatility saying, “The Filipino art scene has a broad appreciation for today’s technology and the internet and is open to influence from different regions without compromising the unique culture of the Philippines. The Philippine art scene’s inherent narrative-sharing tendency remains undiluted, preserving its unique Filipino essence.”

Joven’s advice to newbie artists is to remain authentic, continue creating, learn from mistakes, and not be afraid to explore new techniques. He underscores the importance of having mentors and drawing inspiration from one’s unique experiences, strengthening the individual creative identity.

Jonathan Joven is breathing new life into the Philippine art scene with his versatile vision.

Jonathan Joven, University of the Philippines-Diliman, “Masdan Mo,” 2nd Place Winner, Watercolor, 45th Shell NSAC 2012.

Jigger Cruz on Inspiring Future Artists

Jigger Cruz’s dedication to the world of art started as a hobby, attending Ronald Ventura’s Sunday classes and participating in various competitions. His unique art style, marked by an emphasis on muscle memory and a disregard for structure and formula, is a testament to his journey of self-discovery.

Cruz credits a significant part of his artistic growth to his participation in the Shell NSAC, “The competition not only proved instrumental in building my confidence but also provided a platform for me to explore various styles and discover my own. Through my involvement in Shell NSAC, I was able to differentiate the styles that resonated with my artistic ethos and those that did not.” Cruz adds that his exposure to different styles and disciplines, he notes, contributes significantly to the experiences of student artists.

Cruz’s interaction with previous NSAC artists fostered a sense of discipline and an appreciation for abstract impressionism in him. The knowledge and experiences shared among the artists have had a profound influence on his understanding and perception of art.

Cruz sees a quality evolution in Filipino art, as it becomes more globalized and less confined. Filipino artists are excelling abroad, with their works increasingly appreciated by Western critics. Cruz takes pride in the Baroque Filipino mix and match technique, which turns simple objects into art. He envisions a vibrant future for Filipino art, with more young artists engaging in various forms. To meet the competition and diverse audience, supporting local artists is crucial.

Cruz aims to contribute to the Philippine art scene by sharing his experiences abroad, supporting young artists, and purchasing their works. He offers mentorships and free studios to deserving artists, fostering a supportive environment for emerging talents. Cruz’s commitment to the growth and development of the local art scene extends to inviting foreign friends to Manila, allowing them to immerse themselves in the local culture.

Jigger Cruz is committed to fostering a supportive environment for emerging artists, bridging the gap.

Jigger Cruz, Far Eastern University, “Metaphorical Garden of Deconstruction”.

Entries for the 57th Shell National Students Art Competition are now open, with submission guidelines available on the official Shell Philippines website. The deadline for submissions is September 25, 2024, and winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony later this year.

For more information about the Shell National Students Art Competition and to submit entries, please visit


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