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Department of Land Economy

Environment, Law & Economics

Summary of Research Interests

Maria Carmen (Ica) Fernandez has spent the last decade working on the implementation and evaluation of political processes and socio-economic programs related to violence, vulnerability, social cohesion, and open governance in the Philippines. She has designed projects related to the use of open geospatial and statistical data for decision-making in transitional contexts and post-crisis reconstruction.

As a former worker in the Philippine ministry overseeing peace negotiations, Ms. Fernandez has worked as a consultant with governments, communities, and international development organisations such as the World Bank, the United Nations, DFAT-Australia, British Council, JICA, and The Asia Foundation. She has a keen interest in interdisciplinary action research, specifically the use of alternative platforms such as visual art, music, and community activities for participatory engagement and policy reform.


PhD Thesis Title

Exploring the dynamics of complex urban crises and forced displacement on informal settlements through spatial analysis: evidence from the Philippines


Supervisors and Advisor

Prof. Elisabete Silva (Supervisor)


Start Date

Michaelmas 2020

End Date

Easter 2023


Corpus Christi College



Ph.D. Candidate, University of Cambridge (2020–present)

  • Newton Agham PhD Scholarship, British Council and Philippine Department of Science and Technology  (2020-2023)

Master’s Degree (MPhil) in Planning, Growth, and Regeneration), University of Cambridge (2015-2016)

  • British Chevening and Cambridge Trust Scholarship (2015-2016)
  • Merit

Master’s Degree (Master of Arts) in Urban and Regional Planning, University of the Philipines Diliman (2013-2015)

Bachelor’s Degree (e.g. BA) in Comparative Literature), University of the Philipines Diliman (2004-2008)

  • Cum laude honors


Teaching and Research Experience

  • Instructor II, Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of the Philippines Diliman (2009–2010)


Professional Experience

  • Independent governance and development advisor, The Asia Foundation (2016–2020)
  • Independent evaluator for various organisations including DFAT-Australia, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, British Council, Innovations for Poverty Action, among others (2017-2020)
  • Conflict, Security, and Development consultant, The World Bank in the Philippines (2013-2017)
  • Peace Process Officer IV, Government of the Philippines – Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process (2011-2013)


Professional Qualifications

  • Licensed Environmental Planner, Philippine Professional Regulatory Commission (2019)



  • Founding convenor, UrbanisMO.PH (2018-present)
  • Cambridge University Filipino Society (2015 – present)
  • ASEAS UK (2020 - present)

Articles and Book Chapters

  • Pangilinan, M. K. A., Fernandez, M. C., Quijano, N., & Dizon, Jr., W. (2021). Examining the Effects of Drug-Related Killings on Philippine Conditional Cash Transfer Beneficiaries in Metro Manila, 2016–2017. Journal of Illicit Economies and Development2(2), 110–126. DOI:
  • Fernandez, M.C., M. Villalon, A. Pangilinan, and N. Quijano (2021, forthcoming) Palibhasa'y nagbibigkis: Community Survival and Resistance in the Age of Tokhang. In Lasco, G, eds. Drugs and Philippine Society. Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
  • Quijano, N. Fernandez, M.C., and Pangilinan, A. (2020). Misplaced Priorities, Unnecessary Effects: Collective Suffering and Survival in Pandemic Philippines. The Asia-Pacific Journal, [online] 18(16). Available at: <>


Commissioned Work

  • Towards an ‘ASEAN Way’ of addressing complex crises? (2021, forthcoming). Working paper for the ASEAN Development Outlook Report. ASEAN Secretariat and the University of Cambridge.
  • Children of War: A Rapid Assessment of Orphans in Muslim Mindanao. (2020).  Manila: The Asia Foundation.
  • Understanding the Enabling Environment for Violent Extremism (VE) in Local Communities in the Philippines. (2021, forthcoming) Manila: The Asia Foundation.
  • World Bank and International Organization for Migration (2017). Land: Territory, Domain, and Identity.  A report submitted by the WB-IOM technical team to the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Manila: The World Bank and IOM.  Available at:


Working Papers

  • Fernandez, M.C. (2019). “The Two Sides of Dignity in Philippine Post-Crisis Response: Insights from Marawi and Typhoon Tembin (Vinta). In K. Holloway (ed.) Dignity in displacement: evidence from Afghanistan, Colombia, Philippines, and South Sudan. London: Overseas Development Institute. Available at:
  • Fernandez, M.C, Baunto, A. and Villasper, J. (2019). “Open Data for the Bangsamoro Transition: Practical notes on using geospatial and statistical data for decision-making.” Manila: The Asia Foundation. Available at: DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.32445.41445
  • Fernandez, M.C, Garcia, D. and Baunto, A. (2018). “Community-led rehabilitation is the practical thing to do in Marawi: Critical points for addressing land issues after the Siege.” Manila: The Asia Foundation. Available at: DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.19023.64164
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