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Nostalgia in Pililla

2019 PhilDev-Shell Leadership Camp

Words by Adriel Nisperos and John Louis Tabor


It was a rainy Monday afternoon last August 22 when the PhilDev-Shell Scholars boarded the bus bound to Pililla, Rizal for the sixth annual PhilDev-Shell Leadership Camp. Despite the gloomy vibe the rain brought in, the radiant smiles of the scholars warmed up the trip.

The Annual Leadership Camp provides the scholars an avenue to socialize and bond with their fellow scholars. It’s a five-day learning experience designed to further enable the holistic development of the students. All PhilDev-Shell scholars have experienced going to the camp at least once in their life.


John Louis Tabor or “JLo”, as fondly called by his peers, is a BS Mechanical Engineering graduate from De La Salle University. He is an alum of PhilDev’s first batch of scholars. It has been five years since he visited the Shell Training Center for the camp. This year, he returned to the camp as a volunteer on the organizing team.

Upon seeing Camp Master Jay Javier welcoming the 59 scholars, JLo fondly recalled his own experience when he met Jay for the first time in 2014.

Joining him in welcoming the campers was Sebastian Quinones, Pilipinas Shell Foundation’s Executive Director, who delivered a message for the scholars. “There’s only one thing that will be constant, and that’s yourself, and your relationship with the Guy upstairs,” Quinones said.

Unleashing the inner leaders: LEAD Sessions


Since 2014, five batches of PhilDev-Shell scholars have been part of the annual leadership camp. It continues to grow this year as it welcomes 16 more scholars, making them the sixth batch of campers.

As it is Batch 6’s first-time in the leadership camp, they have to go through the Leadership Enhancement and Attitude Development (LEAD) workshop, a session which centers on introspection, understanding oneself, and leadership building. It has been the original module of the camp since 2014.

JLo shared that the LEAD workshop used to cover the three whole days of the camp. “LEAD reminds scholars the importance of knowing themselves,” JLo mentions. This reminder then bridges the leadership building objective of LEAD. “Getting to know yourself is the first step to being a leader,” Viva Generoso, LEAD Facilitator, noted.


The LEAD workshop tackled several relationships found on a person’s life journey. The workshop guides the students in cultivating positive values, while also letting go of poisonous traits such as pessimism and arrogance. Part of the activities of LEAD is to ask students to evaluate their relationships with their families and assess how they can strengthen these relationships, and enhance further the synergistic ones. 

Painting the big picture: NXPlorers Sessions

The second-time campers were also in for a new experience as they go through Shell’s NXPlorers program. It’s a newly developed module which focuses on enhancing the participants’ ability to think systematically, creatively, and innovatively.


In the previous camps, PhilDev and Shell were implementing a different module for second-time campers. JLo shared that the NXPlorers would have been an essential module to teach even to the previous scholars. “I wish we had that before as it broadens the perspective of the scholars,” JLo added.

Everything is interconnected. To solve social issues, one must see the bigger picture, the different perspective, and the possible futures that might happen once actions are taken.
— Daniel Joshua Beja, BS Chemical Engineering, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan

The scholars were tasked to form groups and to design a solution that will address the country’s problems on food, water, and energy. All groups attended a series of mini workshops. They used tools combining systems thinking, scenario planning, and theory of change, which enabled them to propose a solution on their chosen issue.

The nature of the activities trained the scholars in designing solutions that address complex problems. Daniel Joshua Beja, a BS Chemical Engineering student from Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, shared “Everything is interconnected. To solve social issues, one must see the bigger picture, the different perspective, and the possible futures that might happen once actions are taken.”


Towards the end of the NXPlorers program, the groups pitched their solutions to the facilitators. The groups presented promising solutions to the country’s problems. The NXPlorers module facilitators commended them for their outputs despite only working for a short time.

Bracing for the future: HR Sessions

The last module of the camp focused on guiding the graduating scholars as they transition to the workplace. The scholars who attended this session are from Batch 4. In this session, the scholars were able to listen to Shell employees as they shared their career experiences. They were also able to seek advice from the mentors in determining the right career path for them as STEAM graduates.


In addition to mentorship sessions, scholars were also taught how to present themselves better, how to create an effective resumé, and how to respond to job interviews confidently. JLo recalls how the HR sessions equipped him in his job interviews, “Companies have their own ‘languages’. Attending the HR sessions back then helped me communicate myself better to the employers.”


More guests arrived on the last day of the camp. Present were Cesar Romero, Country Chairman of Pilipinas Shell, and Rufino Olay III, Vice-President and General Manager of Wave Computing. Art Tan, one of the members of PhilDev’s Board of Trustees, Angelina “Jonesy” Castro, Executive Director of PhilDev in the US, and top officials of Pilipinas Shell also attended the morning keynote talks.

Cesar Romero encouraged the scholars in his talk to be leaders and to embrace the term “engineer” as an action word. “Every leader must be an engineer because leaders must engineer change, must engineer progress,” Cesar highlighted. 

Rufino Olay III on the other hand showed how the fourth industrial revolution is changing the future of the Philippines and how the scholars can take their engineering careers to the next level and be able to build the new industries. 


With Rufino is Noelle Reyes, a former PhilDev-Shell scholar who works as a Data Science Engineer at Wave Computing. It was her first time (again) being at the camp since her days as a scholar-participant. In a quick catch-up with the scholars, she shared what inspired her to shift her career in data science despite finishing a chemical engineering degree. 

Seeing artificial intelligence (AI) on media, it made me think ‘what if we integrate chemical engineering into AI?’ Maybe I could be the first in the Philippines to integrate AI and chemical engineering
— Noelle Reyes,Data Science Engineer at Wave Computing, PhilDev-Shell Almuni

The camp culminated with much-awaited performances from the three batches of PhilDev-Shell scholars. Batch performances have been a tradition of the camp since 2016, and scholars make an extra effort to showcase their talents and skills to the facilitators and guests.

“The performances were amazing despite the short preparation time. Although each batch presented a different theme, all performances expressed how thankful they are for PhilDev and Shell,” JLo shares. 


It might be time to put out the campfire for now, but for JLo the camp reminded him of how exciting and nostalgic it was to be there. It was a time to catch-up with old and new friends, with the scholarship family, and most of all with himself.

“The camp overall was nostalgic for me. I remember seeing myself at the training center’s poolside in 2014 reflecting on my future, my purpose in life. Seeing it again five years later, I realized that somehow I got a glimpse of an answer to my questions since then,” JLo shared.

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