An eye on the medal | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Mishael Jacob Pueblas always had it in him: An eye for visual art.

Back when he was in college, studying communication arts at the University of the Philippines in Mindanao, Misha, as his friends would call him, had always been the artist in the batch.

Pueblas, 21, would share his ambitious visions for himself and his art. He’d give constructive criticism on bad advertising copy. He is the boss in the university’s art and photography exhibits. In art and photography class, he’d even go beyond the topics assigned to him.

No one can blame him, as he has a strong passion for the arts, and it’s reflected in his output (some of which have even garnered high merits).

In 2009, two of his photographs won top spots in Petron’s photography competition; he bested over 800 entries and even impressed National Artist Ben Cab.

Design triumph

This year, he joined a medal design competition for the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). His medal design, “Embracing the Triumph,” made it to the top 10; the 11th entry trailed behind his, with only 33 less votes.

The next stage of judging will be with the IOC, and the final judging will be announced some time this  September.

In this article, Pueblas talks to 2bU about his design’s inspiration, how he wants to make a difference, and the lessons about life he learned while pursuing his love for the visual arts.

What’s your inspiration for the medal design?

I’m quite fascinated by how winning athletes react to their victory. Usually, they shout for joy, or embrace their loved ones to share their triumph. I want to capture that very point in their lives. My design embeds that very precious moment on their Olympic medal. Two abstract human figures embrace each other as they represent the Olympic values: Excellence, respect, and friendship. These figures also portray the merging of bodies of goddesses Nike (sports) and Hebe (youth). I really want the Philippines to make a name in the Winter Youth Olympic Games. This is for the Filipino youth.

What inspires you?

Since I was a kid, art has been my life. God gave me eyes to appreciate everything around me—this is a special gift I have to use every day. I don’t make designs just because I’m after money or recognition (laughs), but because I want people to be inspired by what they see. I make designs because I know that whatever we see can make a difference.

How can the visual arts effect social change?

We can simply ask: “How can a simple medal design  change the lives of the youth?” The Youth Olympic Games, initiated by International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, is actually not just a stepping stone for young athletes to equip themselves for larger Olympic events. It also aims to create change among the youth. By embracing Olympic values, they can apply those values not just in sports, but also in their everyday lives. The love for sports teaches us to become true winners in life.

What lesson in life did you learn while pursuing the visual arts?

The process. Visual arts, which includes painting, sculpture, and all sorts of designs, are not created in a blink. It’s an unending process that enables me to continuously learn. I discover a lot about myself (my flaws, my inspirations). I learned so many things, including my recent discovery about the perils of my “perfectionist” attitude. I admit, I am a perfectionist and I don’t like it. Now, I’m trying to accept that life is not perfect; nothing is perfect, and no one has to try to make it perfect. Now, I feel free and more relaxed as an artist.

Check out the other medal designs at