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Nation rebuilding depicted in art

The winning works in this year’s Shell National Students Art Competition included an image of unseen emotions under a face mask, frontliners, and a new take on bayanihan.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, for the second year in a row, the Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.’s 54th National Students Art Competition (NSAC) awarding ceremony was held online.

“As we bravely continue to navigate through this pandemic, and look forward to recovery, we believe that art could spark change and progress,” Lorelie Quiambao-Osial, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., said in her opening speech on Dec. 10.

“We challenged our young artists with this year’s theme: RestART. We tasked you to create art that inspired us to rebuild the nation and keep the Philippines moving forward. Thank you for sharing your talents with us and for your commitment to your craft and to the art community,” she said.

This year’s competition attracted 1,746 entries nationwide from 398 participating schools. Winning pieces were selected for the following categories: Digital Fine Arts, Sculpture, Watercolor, and Oil and Acrylic.

The top winners in each category had recurring messages of resilience, hope, and courage.

The winners all gave short speeches on video when accepting the awards.

In the Digital Fine Arts Category, Gerard Lynn Mara Santos of the Technological University of the Philippines won first place for his work, Pintura, which depicts colorful portraits covered in face masks. Speaking about her work, Ms. Santos said that she thought of what our future would be like after the pandemic. “Magiging masaya ba tayo (Will we be happy?) or do we still feel the same [as] before the pandemic?”

Panibagong Umaga by Jarren Dahan from the University of Mindanao won the Oil-Acrylic Category. The piece depicts a closely gathered group of smiling people, their face masks lowered to their chins. Mr. Dahan described the smiles in his painting as a “metaphor for hope.”

In the Watercolor category, Ranier Angelo Bolivar from the GK College of Business, Arts, and Technology won for his painting titled Moving Forward. The piece presents frontliners as modern-day heroes. He said that he used a contrast of light on dark hues to depict optimism in turbulent times.

University of the Philippines-Diliman’s Maica Rozel Borlagdan won first place in the Sculpture category for her work titled, If Only We’ll Unite and Conquer. She said that we need to realize the problem and know how to act on it. “Hindi naman natin masasabi na need nating mag-restart kung hindi natin nakikita na walang problema sa dapat nating pagsimulan muli (We cannot say that we need to restart if we do not see that there is a problem that needs a reset),” she said.

The 2nd and 3rd place winners are: Pagtanggap Mo sa Aking Pagkukulang by Mary Franz Salazar, and Tayo’y Makakahinga Muli by Ralph Enzo Rabaya in the Digital Fine Arts category; Regrowth by Ranier Angelo Bolivar, and Puhon by Gyles Maverick Abac in the Oil/acrylic category; Sa Dibdib Mo’y Buhay by Patricia Serrano, and Progresibong Papel ng Pagkatao by Elaiza Judilla in the Watercolor category; and Laban Lang! by Mark Eclipse, and Future on Our Fingerprint by Zoe Manigan in the Sculpture category.

The winners each received a cash prize, a limited Shell NSAC shirt and jacket, a medal, a plaque, or a Certificate of Merit. The respective school or university of the first prize winners receive a special grant of P20,000 in support of their Faculty Development Program.

This year’s judges were all artists: Ross Capili, Dopy Doplon, and Pablo Biglang-Awa, Jr. for the Digital Fine Arts category; Edgar Fernandez, Antipas Delotavo, and Renato Habulan for the Watercolor category; Isko Andrade, Kenneth Esguerra, and Alfredo Esquillo, Jr. for the Oil/Acrylic category; and Paul Quiano, Toym Leon Imao, and Reggie Yuson for the Sculpture category.

Launched by Pilipinas Shell in 1951 as a search for art for its calendar grew to become the longest-running Philippine student art competition. Among NSAC’s winners were Jose Joya, Ang Kiukok, and Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera — all National Artists today.

For updates on the virtual gallery of winners, visit Pilipinas Shell’s social media accounts and website https://pilipinas.shell.com.ph/. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman