Marica Lim: The Future’s In The Bag

- Paula C. Nocon () - July 18, 2003 - 12:00am
Marica Lim graduated from college only a year ago, but she’s ready to start all over again. After obtaining an AB Psychology degree from the Ateneo de Manila in 2002, she is all set to take another bachelor’s degree at the London College of Fashion this September, this time majoring in a product design course for accessories.

It wasn’t easy changing career paths and carving out a new beginning for this 22-year-old, but her mind is made up. Following her training under top designer Rajo Laurel and her first break at the acclaimed Designing Bohol exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum this past summer, there’s no stopping Marica from pursuing what she really loves.

She says of her life-altering decision: "I took up Psych ‘cause I thought I wanted to be a teacher. But somewhere along the way, I realized that it wasn’t exactly what I was meant to do. So I asked myself what it was that I was really passionate about, what it was that I really loved. And basically it was ‘making stuff.’ I wanted to channel that into something real."

Seeing off our up-and-coming talents as they pursue further education abroad is often something that rings of hope, dreams, and a wish that they would return soon enough to share what they have learned. It’s the promise and prayer we have for every Bright Young Thing.

When did your interest in bag design begin?

I’ve always been into arts and crafts, but it really all started in high school. I made my first bag when I was 14. I was going to a party then so I made a black pouch from some scrap material using my very own sewing machine. I was so proud of it.

After that I would do small consignments, but mostly I just gave away my creations to family and friends. It was really just for the fun of it.

What did you learn from working under Rajo Laurel?

My whole purpose in training under Rajo Laurel was to learn the business side of things. I wanted to see what it was like behind the scenes and immersed myself in it.

Rajo taught me the value of hard work. He’s a good example of drive and passion. It has since rubbed off on me.

He looked at my sketches and just told me to keep at it, to keep practicing, to go ahead and learn some more. He encouraged me to leave the country, for growth and creativity. Studying abroad would help me in the sense that the thinking there is very forward.

How was being part of Designing Bohol a big break for you?

That taught me what it’s like to not just design, but to think of other people. It’s not just about your own personal satisfaction; I want people to like my stuff, to appreciate it.

I also learned to use native and natural fibers like piña, sako, even cement bags.

What do you think of famed bag designer Rafe Totengco’s success?

It’s great for someone like me. What he’s done opened doors. It makes it easier since somebody else has paved the way. He is a guy who’s living and breathing it, and he has shown the world the creativity and inventiveness of the Filipino.

What he’s done has motivated me to come back home eventually, when I’m done with my studies and I’ve done a bit of training abroad. I want to make bags for us, not just for westerners.

You’re doing college all over again. How do you think would formal education help your craft?

Technically, it may just boil down to a piece of paper at graduation, but it’s what happens between now and then that really matters to me. I’m interested in the day-to-day cultivation, of making the most out of studying abroad, and in the experiential part of it all.

You come from a family of artists. Tell us about them.

My mother, Amanda Lim, is a great singer, and she was into handicrafts, too. My older brother, Paolo, is a children’s book illustrator, graphic designer, photographer and musician. My dad is into woodwork, like making bookshelves, tables, and furniture. We would wake up to the noise of his machines in the garage. I’m very lucky to have grown up in that kind of environment.

What inspires you?

The whole process of putting a bag together, cutting, sewing, not having to rip off the seams to get it right. I just get such a kick out of that.

Also, life in general. Experiencing life, being alive, channeling that. Being able to make something for someone else. A bag becomes a part of their life, and in a way, I’m helping them make their life easier.

What’s the best thing about your generation?

We have a lot of opportunities and possibilities. The women of my generation are luckier than those of other generations. We can be equal with men if we want to be. It’s there if you want to take it, if you have the guts.

What’s the worst thing about your generation?

Because of the many possibilities, most of us have become complacent. I know many slackers and brats among us, who aren’t making enough effort since they’re used to having things come so easily to them.

What books changed your life?

The Fountainhead
by Ayn Rand, which I read in high school. It’s about being ambitious, about wanting to do what you love to do, regardless of how it was done before, or of what people expect of you. Another is Spilling Open by Sabrina Ward Harrison. It’s an illustrated journal, it’s amazing. I flip through it when I’m feeling uncreative.

You took up Psychology, and now you’re going into fashion. What do you think of that transition?

People say that fashion can be ridiculous. At certain extremes, yes, I admit that. Even the ridiculousness of it all amuses me. Like couture, it may be frivolous, but it shows so much genius and creativity.

But the thing is, it’s what makes me happy. It’s what gives me excitement and pleasure. And it’s when you find what you love that you get to be the best you can be.
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