Just like how the University taught us to brave the storm that comes every once in a while, Maria Dolores “Joji” Castillo took every challenge as an opportunity to learn, grow and succeed.

True enough, Castillo used the value of resiliency that the University has equipped her with to make her name shine internationally.

“Like the University itself, you brave the weather, the flood and the turmoil that comes in every once in a while, but you continue to stand, to get up and get out there to seek your opportunities, and be able to stand proud but never look down on others,” Joji shared.

Castillo first entered UST in 1983 as an Education High School student. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts Major in Interior Design in 1991, and placed second in the 1993 Licensure Examination for Interior Design.

Reminiscing her life back when she was still a student, Joji admitted that she was not like other students who were active in University-wide organizations. Rather, she likes knowing by observing and learning independently.

“Back then, [I] spent plenty of time in the library to research and evaluate things myself. I loved looking and observing,” she said.

She started working for Creative Home Interiors as a Junior Designer for Furniture and Interiors from 1992 to 1994.

This humble beginning led her to paint a wonderful career in Brunei, where she worked as a Junior Designer in Amedeo Development Corporation from 1994 to 1999.

Castillo did not just limit herself in the Interior Designing industry. After five years, she pursued another path by entering in the hotel industry from 2000 to 2011.

She served as a Senior Sales Manager in The Empire Hotel and Country Club where she worked with clients from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Southeast Asian countries.

“I have tried and learned so much from another field, but my heart yearns to go back to what I love to do most—designing. So I decided to come back to Interior Designing in 2011 when my husband, who is an architect, secured a major government project in Brunei.”


joji photo


Joji is currently working as a Senior Interior Designer in Nouvo Design Sdn Bhd. Among her clients are Brunei’s Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Castillo said that her mother encouraged her to take up Architecture, but it was really the interior of a building that interests her.

To those with interest in Interior design, “Never forget the human factor in the equation, make each design revolve around human comfort and space relation. Our goal is to provide our client not just a pleasing experience but to put together their dream space into reality”, she said.

“UST thought me well to look into details. Those days when we would sit in front of the Benavidez statue or the Arch of the Centuries to draw, that’s when I realized, there is so much more to look at in a building structure. Details we do not even realize are there until we really take the time to stop and look.”

Castillo gratefully consider UST as her foundation to structure a life of achievements and growth.

“When I graduated, I know in my heart that I am equipped enough for the next stage in my life. I carry that seal on my shoulder, all the time.” Lord Bien G. Lelay

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