Traditional and digital arts program; A Celebration of Life and Legacy – Manila Newsletter


Throughout history, artists have played a vital role in shaping society. Armed with their ideas and the medium of their choice, the creatives sparked joy among communities and sparked conversations about important issues of our time. As a passionate advocate for innovation as well as the arts and partner in nation-building, Pilipinas Shell has supported the local arts sector through its National Student Art Competition (NSAC), the most along the genre in the country. Now in its 53rd edition, the NSAC Shell has propelled the careers of many artists from across the country, including renowned names like national artists Jose Joya, Federico Alcuaz, Ang Kiukok and Ben Cabrera.

The NSAC is one of the oldest student art competitions in the country, this year calling on student artists from across the country to showcase their talents in various mediums such as digital arts, oil and acrylic, watercolor and even sculpture. In addition to the competition, a virtual event included an arts conference where thought leaders and industry insiders discuss digital arts during the tight times of the pandemic.

Since its inception, NSAC has addressed various themes such as “Metamorphosis”, “ImagineNation”, “Perspective” and the most recent “HOPE IN OUR ARTS”. Each year, young artists have challenged to tap into their inner psyche and spread messages of hope, positivity and resilience. NSAC is the thriving platform and community that it is today thanks to the various people who supported these young artists throughout their early years. One of those personalities is the late Sonia Tejada, affectionately known as “Mama Sonia” or “Mama Sons,” who was the NSAC program director for 25 years and is one of the cornerstones of the NSAC program.

“Combining love and passion in any profession makes the difference in the outcome of the career one embarks on,” said Kenneth Esguerra, senior curator of the Ayala Museum, which is a long-term partner of the Shell NSAC program, exhibiting the winning pieces every year. Kenneth, who frequently collaborates with Mama Sons, added: “Ms. Sonia has applied these key elements in running the country’s oldest art competition.

Sonia Tejada (right) or “Mama Sons” at the NSAC community poses with winning coins at the 49th NSAC Shell

Mama Sons has dedicated most of her life to Shell’s mission to empower communities, especially artists. Recognizing their potential as actors in society, she personally guided their growth, with a soft spot for those who did not have the same access to opportunities. “Mama Sons had this vision that the campaign’s budding artists should be recognized nationally. She wanted to encourage more local artists to develop their gifts, ”explained James Amusa of Museu Iloilo, who was a close friend of Tejada in the arts community. “Eventually, local artists from across the province began to prepare for Shell NSAC every year, as it was a stepping stone to becoming more confident and joining the national arts scene. “

Tejada was known to go above and beyond her job description, pouring out her utmost care and compassion throughout the NSAC community. With his determination, NSAC has become more than a competition. Aprille Tijam, Senior Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Ayala Museum, said: “While it is known that the NSAC aims to foster opportunities for students who wish to start an artistic career, Ms. Sonia’s presence as a NSAC’s program manager has made it more accessible and affordable.

This accessibility allowed the participation of many artists who lived in remote areas, despite the challenges posed by geographic distance. Tijam attributes this inclusiveness to values ​​dear to Tejada: “She was guided by very distinct Filipino traits—pakikisama To pag-aaruga. “

One of his latest projects was to prepare a tabletop book titled “The Golden Voyage: 50 Years of Empowering Filipino Artistry”, which shed light on the history of the program and the many characters, artists and collaborators who defined the NSAC community. “Despite her declining health, she deployed her energy and dedication to compile and produce ‘The Golden Voyage’,” revealed Dopy Doplon, who co-authored the book with Tejada. “Tirelessly, she worked with the Shell team, documenting the artwork and contacting previous winners to prepare the book.”

Although Tejada recently passed away in April of this year, she leaves behind a lasting legacy that will continue to positively impact artists for years to come. Sankie Simbulan, Head of Social Performance and Social Investment in the Country of Pilipinas Shell, said: “The pandemic has presented new trials, but NSAC and our dedicated team will pursue Mama Sons’ vision of supporting artists and to show that there are still opportunities to prosper. Now more than ever, art plays an important role in sowing hope among Filipinos and being a platform to showcase the hopes and dreams of young artists for the future.


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John C. Dent