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. (April 2019)

Ragene Andrea Palma

About me

Call me Jean. I consider myself an urbanist. I am also a licensed planner in the Philippines.

In 2020, I finished my MA International Planning and Sustainable Development at the University of Westminster (Distinction) – Spatial Pathway. I’ve previously worked with development organizations (UN-HABITAT, the World Bank, Louis Berger for USAID Rebuild, ICMA), and right now, I’m working as a part-time researcher for the Max Lock Centre of the University of Westminster.

Sharing about citizen action and urban planning during a Civic Saturday session in Escolta, as a volunteer initiative for People Make Cities. Photo (c) Julia Nebrija
Sharing about public spaces and placemaking learnings from the US during the 2018 PIEP National Convention in Iloilo City. Photo (c) Jon Gales

About the blog

I created this blog right after my planning licensure exam in 2015. Back then, board takers, especially outside Metro Manila, did not have access to knowledge and resources to study for the exam, so I wrote down my experience, and shared my notes and understanding from my own review. This small project reached thousands of aspiring planners, and empowered them to gain more knowledge on cities and urban perspectives. It also brought me to our country’s many islands to teach what I knew. It was heartwarming to learn that some printed my blog and turned it into a book, and that people shared how being able to study for free was so important, especially in less well-off areas. My students in eventual review sessions shared with me both the wonders and the challenges of their home towns, and to date, some students send me messages or durian products, which I love.

Since 2017, Feedspot has listed my blog as part of the top 100 urban planning blogs. The blog is also recognized in Brittanica’s feature of my work under the 20 under 40 Young Shapers of the Future (Urban Studies). Maraming salamat po.

Blog visitor statistics show how Filipinos utilized the board review series in preparation for the annual June licensure exam.
Feedspot’s Blog Medal, and printed copies of my blog from a review session in Negros Occidental.

Work in Philippine planning and development

Most of my career was dedicated to development planning. I started doing local plans with municipalities, back when I was studying in UP SURP, then I worked with various development organizations, which allowed me to work on local economies, post-disaster and post-conflict rehabilitation and planning.

As a young leader

I was blessed to represent the country as a young leader in some international events, including the Professional Fellowship (implemented by the US Department of State), and the Regional Workshop for Urban Planning and Smart Growth Singapore (implemented by the US Embassy Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Planners), both of which were under the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative. I learned about placemaking and public spaces, greening and biophilia, and so many more city planning initiatives through these programs. Read more about these here.

Higher studies, and research interests

Through the Chevening scholarship, I studied international planning in London from 2019 to 2020, and if I may say, immersing in the city was so rewarding for someone who studies places. While I have yet to write about my stay, learnings, and travel in the UK, something I’d like to share is my research project, which is about cities of care. I frame my work from Doreen Massey’s World City, and look into the invisibility and recognition of the Filipino health and care community as an ethnic ‘other’ in London. Read more about my thesis here, or download the full copy here. In the course of my study, I became fascinated with urban sociology and theory, which I hope to explore more in further studies.

My writing on urban affairs also appears in different media, such as CNN Philippines, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, topos Magazine, The Nature of Cities, and other platforms. Some topics I explore are feminist cities, greening, informality, and inequalities. I would love to have conversations about the city, so if you’d like to check my thoughts out, read my pieces here, and leave me a message. Cheers!