It doesn’t matter if you are 16 and deciding on what course to take in college, 21 and narrowing down the places you want to apply to or even 50 and considering a change in profession. Once confronted with confusion in career choices, the first step is to evaluate if the job of your dreams can give you financial stability and personal fulfillment. The next is to work as hard as you possibly can to achieve those two needs. This is exactly how Pam Maningas found success in the interior design industry.

“My first love was painting landscapes”, Pam shares. However, she came to understand the importance of making healthy compromises when her father advised her to “to find a career that’s more profitable for the living and not for the dead.” With this in mind, she became a part of one of the first batches of students of the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (DLS-CSB)-Philippine School of Interior Design (PSID) consortium. Taking up her major subjects at PSID dissolved any doubts or hesitations that she ever had. “All the freehand drawings, rendering of plates, conceptualizations, I enjoyed it”, she explains.

Once Pam completed the first step on the career path that would give her both security and contentment, she bravely conquered the next, specifically, the demand to prove her dedication and commitment to the craft. “In the late 90’s, I was into the bazaar scene. I sold accent pillows and home decor that I consigned from friends back in college for extra money.” She met her first client from one of the bazaars that she participated in. “I was asked to work on a living room and guest room, which just needed some minor refurbishments. I hired my first foreman and painter for that job. My client was so happy with the outcome that she gladly referred me to her family and friends. Since I had limited funds and resources as a student, I became a contractor, a foreman and even drove around Metro Manila to deliver construction materials such as plywood and tiles with an old beat up pickup truck”, Pam recalls. “Aside from that, I also did production design for commercials. I would create settings, assist, and even iron wardrobe for the models”, she adds.

Pam confides that her days as a working student didn’t begin at PSID. She says that she actually sold clips and other accessories in elementary school because she learned the value of money, business practices and honest tips of the trade at a young age from her father, who is in the construction industry. Not to be outdone, her mother also heavily influenced her character. “As the most patient person I know, my mother taught me how to be considerate of people from all walks of life. I am what I am now because of my parents.”

The humility and patience instilled in Pam by her parents and experiences prepared her to face and overcome challenges as the head designer for DMCI Homes. “It was new for me to have my own team and support group. I wasn’t really used to sharing all the work but I soon realized that delegating would make everything more efficient. Plus, seeing everything happen through my very eyes is very rewarding.”

Pam, who enjoys travelling, scuba diving, playing golf and ultimate Frisbee in her spare time, has valuable and practical advice to spare. “Take the smallest of jobs even if it’s for free. The best experiences happen when you’re being exploited! Kidding aside, just be passionate about what you’re doing. I wouldn’t get to where I am now if I gave up on my love for design.” These words ring true for any aspiring designer but it also proves useful for anyone who seeks career guidance.

Written by Therese Dehesa

Photographed by Ron Mendoza (portrait)

Photos courtesy of Pam Maningas (interiors)

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