Celebrating the Ibaloy Festival at the beautiful Burnham Park of Baguio City. This experience made me so happy, because I celebrated Filipino tradition (in attire), in a beautiful public space, in one of my favorite cities.

Ragene Andrea Palma, EnP 

About me

Call me Jean. I’m an environmental planner. That’s synonymous with “urban and regional planner,” “town and country planner,” and “city planner,” it just depends on the context or perspective of what area of planning we’re talking about. I studied in UP-SURP, and I’m currently in London, studying at the University of Westminster.  Past work include city economic development under the UN-HABITAT, post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation under USAID Rebuild, and some civic and volunteer work for People Make Cities.

Sharing about citizen action and urban planning during a Civic Saturday session in Escolta. Photo (c) Julia Nebrija

What does a planner do?

Glad you’re interested. A whole range of things. But the bottomline is making the human and environment relationship harmonious, where both of them will have respect for each other, and will stay together lovingly. I’d like to share a library of journals and books on the topic, but anyway, how we achieve that bottomline is by aligning many things and putting them in place, like policies, land uses, and social development, and looking into the near and far future to make everything work. They’re just like notes, producing lone sounds when pressed individually, but it’s a whole beautiful melody when put together, and terribly painful to hear when a single note gets out of place. If you want to know the scope of what we do in the Philippines, the law pertaining to our profession is RA 10587. Our professional organization is the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners.

Sharing about public spaces and placemaking learnings from the US during the 2018 PIEP National Convention in Iloilo City. Photo (c) Jon Gales

Why blog?

Sharing is caring. I learn a lot of things because I read and I go out of my way to study and attend lectures. I get to go to places and work with so many people, and each place tells so many stories and lessons. I’d like to share that to those who do not have the opportunity. I’m interested in how other people would react if they knew about all  these things.

I’m thankful at how so many of you drop by my blog–to study, to ask questions, to print the review series, and all. When I started this little project, I would never have thought it would reach so many people in the Philippines, let alone around the world.

I’m also very honored at how Feedspot listed my work here as part of the top 100 urban planning blogs, along with CityLab and Planetizen. I’ve been on the list since 2017, and I still find it surreal. Maraming salamat po. 

Some people also still give me the questioning stare when I say I’m an urban planner. It’s about time people get to know what it means, beyond politics, buildings and cityscapes.

Working on the Planned City Extension and Local Economic Development of Zamboanga City. Photo courtesy of R. Falcasantos (2016).

Why plan?

It’s the way to preserve what we have, and the road to a better life for everyone. I love the earth. You should too. It’s our home. Without it, we’ve got nothing. Anything we’ve got–food, shelter, our loved ones–wouldn’t be here if there were no land to stand on, and no resources to use. I believe in people too. By nature, we care. And we have the capacity to improve and to contribute to development.

Specifically, in planning

As I said, planning is a whole range of things. It’s multi-disciplinary, and ranges from technical math and design to people-centered actions to legal aspects. As a planner, I’m knowledgeable on the basics of each, but we’ve all got our fortes. I lean more on the socio-economic and environmental sectors. Local economic development, disaster risk reduction management (DRRM), rehabilitation and recovery, and community development are things I’ve worked on. Right now I’m most passionate about placemaking.

Talking about livable cities in the YSEALI Urban Planning and Smart Growth Workshop, 16-21 May 2017, Singapore.

Outside my blog

I really like writing, so sometimes, when I have a point that I strongly feel has to be taken seriously, I go beyond the comfort zone of this blog and try to reach more people through journalistic articles, which you could read about here.

Let’s talk.

I’d love to learn from you too. Comment below, and let’s keep those ideas coming.