As audiences reckon with art’s essential place in providing comfort and positivity during difficult times, an environment of support is essential for young struggling artists to thrive—so that they may continue to spread messages of hope and shine a light on the future.

Founded on its mission of empowering the young artists of tomorrow, Pilipinas Shell’s National Student Art Competition (NSAC) held its 53rd run this year, with the timely theme of “HOPE IN OUR ART.” For the first time in history, the longest-running Philippine student art competition was held completely online, its platform reaching out to more young artists around the country.

The 53rd NSAC concluded with an awarding ceremony held last November 27 via Zoom, with entries totaling 1,500—a testament to the art sector’s rapid growth and potential and the vibrant enthusiasm of young Filipinos towards art. “For young Filipino artists, NSAC has been a platform to learn and grow by harnessing personal experiences and transforming them into works of art,” stated Cesar Romero, President and CEO of Pilipinas Shell. “May we work together to reinforce art’s place in a post-pandemic society — one that deserves to be cultivated for many years to come.”

Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat, who was a guest speaker at the event, added, “The importance of art has never been clearer during the months we spent in isolation when art was used to express feelings—from fear and gratitude, to trying to make sense of what the world is going through. Our young artists will tell the story of how our people overcame this crisis—drawing on our spirit of bayanihan, talent for innovation, and desire for a just society.”

Of the 1,500 entries submitted from all over the country, three winners were chosen for four categories, namely: Digital Fine Arts, Sculpture, Watercolor, and Oil and Acrylic.

The following are the winners and their respective schools:

Similar to previous competitions, Pilipinas Shell also tapped various veteran artists and esteemed community members to serve as judges for the 53rd NSAC, namely: Lex Kabigting, Jose Tence Ruiz, and Ross Capili for Digital Fine Arts; Edgar Fernandez, Renato Habulan, and Nemi Miranda for Watercolor; Jan Leeroy New, Toym Leon Imao, and Ram Mallari, Jr. for Sculpture; and Nestor Olarte Vinluan, Kenneth Esguerra, and Mark Justiniani for Oil and Acrylic.

For over half a century, the NSAC has nurtured and cultivated many legends in the field, including National Artists Jose Joya, Ang Kiukok, and Ben Cabrera. Ayala Museum Director Mariles Gustilo concluded, “Shell NSAC has a colorful history. We’re proud of the talent that Shell has discovered and nurtured throughout the years. This competition is an opportunity to be active advocates of arts and culture and a way to create social change through art. Our nation needs artists now more than ever.”

For updates on the virtual gallery, please follow Shell Philippines’ social media pages and website.