Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (PSPC) takes a look back at how its National Students Art Competition (NSAC), now celebrating its 55th anniversary, has evolved in a continuously changing world while creating a unique legacy of talented artists. Its current theme, “Sulong Sining,” is a call of action to students and young creatives to advance and transform society through their art.

“Shell NSAC serves as an example of Pilipinas Shell’s continued commitment to nation-building. For more than five decades, it has nurtured the minds of our youth, allowing them to express their thoughts and creativity in various fields of art. We will continue to build on Shell NSAC’s legacy of inspiring Filipino artists,” said [Serge Bernal, PSPC Vice President for Corporate Relations].

Shell NSAC began its decades-long history in 1951 during the collective effort of rebuilding the country in the postwar years. Combating the perception that visual art was not needed for the masses, Pilipinas Shell nurtured and promoted Filipino talent by making artworks more accessible to the public. About 50 paintings created by students from the Philippines’ leading art schools were submitted, with Nicolas Villanueva’s entry “Congested City” winning the initial search. The painting was later displayed on the 1952 Shell Oil calendar with a PHP 250 cash prize for the artist.

The next two decades saw the prizes and prestige of Shell NSAC grow, becoming an annual competition and a renowned tradition for budding artists, proving the Philippines was rife with them.

 However, Shell NSAC was put to a halt in 1972 as martial law was declared, seemingly putting an end to 21 years of student artwork. However, due to popular demand, it was revived 16 years later, ready to serve again as an inspiration and amplifier for young Filipino artists growing into the digital era. Adapting to modern technologies, Digital Fine Arts was added to the categories of Oil/Acrylic, Sculpture, and Watercolor.

Shell NSAC had another pivotal moment during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. The nationwide lockdowns prevented traditional means of art presentation and submission for its 53rd year. Shell NSAC and the artists rose to the challenge as the competition moved online, emphasizing its mission of providing inspiration and hope to the Filipino people when they needed them the most.

This milestone year marked a change in the Shell NSAC experience. Its Virtual Gallery made the artworks of Filipino students even more accessible to more Filipinos. 

One of the goals of the 55th Shell NSAC is the establishment of the Shell NSAC alumni association. It will bring together generations of artists to share their wisdom and experience and define the program’s legacy for the Filipino art community. Some of the more prominent Shell NSAC Alumni Artists include National Artists and legends such as Angel Cacnio (1953), Juvenal Sanso (1961), Danilo Dalena (1964), Luis “Junyee” Yee Jr. (1967), Nestor Olarte Vinluan (1971), Jose Joya (1952), Ang Kiutok (1953), Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (1954), Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera (1962), Rosario Bitanga-Perlita (1957), Norma Belleza (1961), Imelda Cajipe-Endaya (1969), Mailah Baldemor-Balde (1993), and Maria Dorothea Taniguchi (2000), among others. 

 The participation of more than 1700 students in the 54th NSAC, which is the second most number of entries in the competition’s history, shows that its legacy remains stronger than ever.

Applicants for the 55th NSAC may submit their entries from June 1 until September 5, 2022. Find more information on the mechanics through the official microsite of NSAC http://www.shell.com.ph/SulongSining

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