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I'm an anthropologist who stumbled into the field of design by first doing postgraduate research in fashion, identity, and nationalism. Shortly after finishing my MA in Anthropology, I co-founded Curiosity, an independent ethnographic design research and consultancy firm in Manila that works with NGOs, the private sector, and government agencies to develop more meaningful and useful products and services by drawing from local insight. While Curiosity was in its infancy, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) descended upon Philippines.

The exigencies of Yolanda and Curiosity's focus on design led to me humanitarian work and post-disaster housing reconstruction research in disaster-affected areas for a women's rights NGO. Through this experience, I became aware of the many ways in which buildings 'behave' like clothing: they generate and shape human relationships; they conflate the public and private aspects of our lives; they have the potential to catch us by surprise. I've been working at the junctures between architecture, urban design, disaster, and development since then.

In 2023, I finished my PhD in Architecture and Design at the School of Architecture and Urban Design of RMIT University in Melbourne. My research focused on the post-disaster housing reconstruction activities of fisherfolk living in a Philippine estuarine island whose worlds are perpetually threatened by climate extremes and poor governance.  While completing my PhD, I sometimes lectured for the university's Master in Disaster Design and Development programme. 

I have now gone full circle and returned to my firm Curiosity and excited to apply my new skills and knowledge from my PhD to both research and interventions involving anthropological, community-centered and participatory approaches to design and disaster.

My work in anthropology, design, and disaster has been both challenging and fulfilling. It has, moreover, led to diverse, unsettling, and transformative encounters with environments, disaster-affected communities, students, and fellow researcher-practitioners and other creatures and contraptions from across the world. So do come along with me on this path! Hopefully it will be an insightful meander between the strange and the familiar.

About Me + CV: About


Wth a career spanning two decades, I have a background in cultural anthropology, design research, and strategic communications planning applied to fields such as post-disaster recovery, women’s rights and education, community architecture, human-centered design, and urban design. I thrive in interdisciplinary working environments and enjoy the challenge of developing projects in unchartered territory. I especially look forward to the application of research findings to the development of concrete and sustainable solutions. I regularly communicate what I learn through work to both local and international audiences through publication, training, public presentations, and teaching.

About Me + CV: Text


  • Top 10 Finalist, United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction - Women's International Network Rising Star Leadership Awards (2021), 153 nominees from 22 countries

  • Fellow, “Governing Humanitarianism - Past, Present and Future" Volkswagen Foundation, University of Cologne, University of Exeter, and University of Oxford. Hannover, Germany (forthcoming in 2022)

  • Scholar, Doctoral Research Stipend Scholarship, School of Architecture and Urban Design, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University (2018 - present)

  • Global Fellow, Brown University Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (2019 - present)

  • Principal Investigator (with S. Cervantes, M.Santos, O. Sicam), Brown University Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies Research Seed Grant for The Architecture of Post-Disaster Housing Reconstruction as Discourse (2020 March - present)

  • Fellow, Writing Stories for An Audience of Non-Anthropologists, World Anthropological Union (September 2021)

  • Full Scholar, Fundamentals of De-Urban Design, Ecodemia: An Ethical and Sociological Academia (2020 May-June)

  • Fellow, Research Residency on Cognitive Innovation for Sustainable Development, The Cognovo Foundation and the University of the Philippines Open University. Siargao, Philippines (2020 January)

  • Fellow, Field Lab on Critical Design for Urban Flooding, Co-Risk Labs. International Sustainable Development Institute, Chiang Mai, Thailand (2019 June)

  • Fellow, ProSPER Leadership Programme in Urban Sustainable Development, United Nations University Tokyo Advanced Studies in Sustainability and RMIT University. Melbourne, Australia (2018, November)

  • Fellow, Sustainability and Responsible Leadership, Svenska insitutet. Singapore, Sweden, Manila (2018 May-October)

  • Fellow, Publication Workshop, Off the Lip Conference on Cognitive Innovation by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Doctoral Training Programme, Plymouth University, UK (2018 August)

  • Fellow, INTREPID Seminar on Transformative Knowledge for an Era of Planetary Urbanization, Instituto de Ciencias Socais, Universidade de Lisboa. Lisbon, Portugal (2017 July)

  • Fellow, Humanitarianism and Post-conflict Reconstruction, Brown University International Advanced Institutes. Providence, USA (2017 June)

  • Fellow, Post-City Future Innovators Programme, Ars Electronica Festival. Linz, Austria (2015 September)

  • Travel Grant, Off the Lip Conference on Cognitive Innovation by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Doctoral Training Programme. Plymouth University, UK (2015 September)

  • Best Innovation Team (Mentor), “Disease Mapping Mobile Application” [DMAP] for Local Government Initiatives in Dengue Prevention. United Nations Development Program, UNDP Public Service Initiative – Social Innovation Camp Asia, 2013 September

  • Best Undergraduate Thesis (with J. Divinagracia), Strangers in Barong: The Communication and Acculturation of Expatriates in Metro Manila. 2000 March

  • Cum Laude, BA Communication Research, 2000 March

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Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles​

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2017). Designing Life After the Storm: Improvisation in Post-Disaster Housing Reconstruction as Socio Moral Practice. AVANT: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies, 8. Special Issue on Cognitive Innovation, pp. 77-86. 

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2017) Second Response in J. Knight, A Relational Ecology of Photographic Practices, [Special Issue] AVANT, 8, pp.295-296.​

  • with Mangahas, Maria F., Cynthia Neri Zias, Elinda Burton, and Eizel Hilario Padmapani Perez and Suzanna R. Rolden. 2018. "Continuing Alongside the Katutubo – Current Challenges to Filipino Anthropology". AghamTao: Journal of the Ugnayang Pang- Aghamtao / Anthropological Association of the Philippines, 26, 101-120.

  • Cajilig, P.G., Salva, O., & Maranan, P. (2015). If the House Fits: The Political Ergonomics of Design Thinking for Post-Yolanda Shelter Development. AghamTao: Journal of the Ugnayang Pang- Aghamtao / Anthropological Association of the Philippines, 24, 61-85. 

  • Cajilig, P.G. & Maranan, D. (2014). Anthropology Of, For and With Design: A Philippine Perspective. AghamTao: Journal of the Ugnayang Pang-AghamTao / Anthropological Association of the Philippines, 24, pp. 95-110. 

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2012). Appropriating Anthropology in Market Research: Dilemmas and Possibilities for Engagement from the Perspective of a Southeast Asian Practitioner. AghamTao: Journal of the Ugnayang Pang- Aghamtao / Anthropological Association of the Philippines, 23, 42-63. 


Book Chapters

  • Cajilig, P.G., Maranan, D., Francis, K., & Zaksaite, T. (2019). Sanay Kami sa Bagyo (We Are Used to Storms): Unpacking “irrationality” in non-evacuation decision-making during the sentient ecology of Typhoon Haiyan in M.C.P. Alejandria and W. Smith (eds), Disaster Archipelago: Locating Vulnerability and Resilience in the Philippines, pp.89-118, Lexington Press.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2016). Wearing Your Map on Your Sleeve: Practices of Identification in the Creation and Consumption of Philippine Map T-Shirts in D. Eluwawalage (Ed.), Fashion: Tyranny and Revelation, pp. 97-106. Oxford: Interdisciplinary Press. 

Popular Publications

  • Cajilig, P. G. (2020). Walking as Ethnographic Research: Contextual understanding of flooding in an urban neighbourhood – UR Field Lab. UR Field Lab.

  • Cajilig, P.G, Pasta, F., & Bennett, J. (2015, September 1). Social Architecture: Design from the Passenger Seat. Design Anthology, pp. 178-181. Metro Manila Case Studies of Community-Driven Urban Design. 

  • Cajilig, P.G (2014, November 13). [Thinking Through Design] Reaching Out During Disaster. Rappler. Retrieved December 27, 2015. 

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2014, October 13). [Thinking Through Design] Design Research: An Everyday Example. Rappler. Retrieved December 27, 2015. 

Conference Poster Presentations

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2020, January). We Are Like Fish: Examining the Ontopolitics of Design Thinking in Disaster Recovery. Poster Presented at the Off The Lip Conference on Cognitive Innovation for Sustainable Development, University of the Philippines, Los Banos. DOI 10.6084/m9.figshare.11920647

  • Cajilig, P.G., Maranan, D. S., Sy, A., Salva, O., & Vermeulen, A. (2017, August). Multispecies Roundtable for Climate Impact: A Speculative Proposal. Poster presented at the Balance-Unbalance 2017, Plymouth University, UK.

Manuscripts in Progress

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021). Kinship as Cultural Citizenship in Post-Disaster Housing Reconstruction: Narratives from Fisherfolk in the Philippines. Manuscript submitted for publication.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021). The Knowledge Controversies of Design Thinking for Community Participation within Disaster Recovery. Manuscript submitted for publication.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021). The Untimely Ecologies of Post-Disaster Housing Reconstruction. Manuscript in preparation.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021). The Material Registers of Infrastructure for Coastal Flood Adaptation. Manuscript in preparation.

  • Cajilig, P.G., Fien, J. and Irajifar, L. (in press). Researching citizen participation within the architecture of post-disaster housing reconstruction. Conference Proceedings of REAL MATERIAL ETHEREAL: The Second Annual Design Research Conference.

  • Cajilig, P.G., Santos, M.F.A.W., Sicam, O., and Cervantes, S. (2021).The Material Registers of Disaster Injustice: Post-Disaster Housing Reconstruction in a Fragile World. Manuscript in preparation.

About Me + CV: Text


  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021 September). Strengthening Science and Political Literacy in Coastal Communities. Forthcoming talk for the panel Nature-based Solutions for Flood Risk Management organised by Soroptimist International of South-West Pacific and Malaysian Water Partnership.

  • Cajilig, P.G. and Maranan, D.S. (2021, September). 5 Ways to Reframe "Design" for Just Futures. Opening keynote presentation for the 2021 International Design Conference of the Design Center of the Philippines/Department of Trade and Industry.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021, September). A Women's Interactive Forum on Climate Change and Housing Resilience. Natural Hazards Conference 2021 organised by the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021, August). Ethnographic Research Workarounds During Covid-19. Webinar for the University of Plymouth School of Dentistry.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021, August). Reframing Post-Disaster Housing Reconstruction: Women Negotiating Institutional Power through Design in Post-Haiyan Resettlement Sites. Webinar for Youth for Resilience - World Indigenous People's Day.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021, May). Flood Green Guide Monitoring and Evaluation. Webinar for the United Architects of the Philippines Makati Forum on Natural Resilience: Towards Nature-Based Methods for Flood Risk Management. 

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021, May). Kinship as Cultural Citizenship in Post-Disaster Housing Reconstruction. Webinar for the RMIT School of Architecture and Urban Design Master of Disaster Design and Development. 

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2021, March). Kinship as Cultural Citizenship in Post-Disaster Housing Reconstruction. Webinar for the University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning.  

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2020, September). Field Research and Working Around Covid-19 Restrictions. Talk presented at the School of Graduate Research Forum on Pivoting Data Collection During a Pandemic, RMIT University, Melbourne.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2020, September). Community Participation in Post-Disaster Housing Reconstruction: Knowledge Transfer Through Design. Talk presented at the United Architects of the Philippines Makati Chapter Webinar on Designing for Humanity, RMIT University, Melbourne.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2020, July). Research Ethics in the Immediate Aftermath of Disaster. Talk presented at the Co-Risk Labs Fellowship Programme on Responsible Engineering, Science and Technology for Disaster Risk Management.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2018, October). We Don’t Want Your Houses: Lessons in Disaster, Design, and Leadership. Talk presented at the Design Center of the Philippines International Design Conference, Makati City, Philippines. 

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2016, November). Democratizing Technology in Emerging Economies. Talk presented at the World Economic Forum Community of the Philippines Open Collaboration of East Asia New Champions (OCEAN), Bohol, Philippines.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2016, July). Diskarte at Tsamba: Why Design is Like Pag-ibig - Local Constructions of Design in the Philippines. Talk presented at the Design for Disaster Forum, Metropolitan Museum, City of Manila. A project of The Japan Foundation Philippines).

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2016, March). Women in Emergencies and Grassroots Technologies. Talk presented at Google Developers Philippines, De La Salle University, City of Manila.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2015, December). Human Centered Design: Local Approaches. Talk presented at the School of Arts and Design, De La Salle College of Saint Benilde University, City of Manila.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2015, November). Human Centered Design in Disaster-related Communication. Talk presented at National Strategic Communication Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction, Philippine Department of Interior and Local Government, Quezon City, Philippines.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2015, November). Does the House Fit? Bridging Social and Material Worlds in Post-Disaster Shelter. Talk presented at Arkitekturo: A Spatial Education on Disasters, University of the Philippines, Diliman. A project of the University of the Philippines Office of Initiatives for Culture and the Arts (OICA) and the Architecture Students Association of the Philippines, University of the Philippines, Quezon City.

  • Cajilig, P.G. & Salva, O.R. (2015, June). Design for Social Innovation through Grassroots Programs. Talk presented at the Ayala Foundation, Inc., Makati City.

  • Cajilig, P. G. (2015, January). Human-Centered Design for Gender Equality. Talk presented at TechCamp Indonesia, Jakarta. A project of Community of Democracies and the US State Department.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2014, November). Political Ergonomics in Design Thinking for Post-Disaster Shelter. Talk presented at UX Manila Conference – Design Role Models, City of Manila.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2014, February). Urban Anthropology and Disaster Risk and Reduction Management. Talk presented at the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines Diliman.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2014, January). Design Thinking for Development Projects at the Grassroots Level. Talk presented at TechCamp Philippines, Makati City. A project of the Community of Democracies and the US State Department. 

  • Cajilig, P.G. & Maranan, D.S. ( 2013, November). Designing Communication for the Awareness of Violence Against Women Centers. Talk presented at the Philippine National Conference on the Rights of the Child, City of Manila.

About Me + CV: Text


  • Founding President and Partner, Curiosity Design Research, 2013 - present

  • Vice President (Luzon), Anthropological Association of the Philippines (Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao), 2015 -  2016; Director, 2014 - 2017

  • Advisor to the Executive Board, Roots of Health (Maternal and Reproductive Health), 2013 - present

  • Advisor to the Board of Trustees, Women’s Education Development and Productivity Research Program (WeDpro), 2014-2018

  • Co-Founder and Member, Cities and Environments Research Network, 2019 - present

  • Co-Founder of Manila Urban Design and Convenor of the Manila Urban Design Festival, 2015 - 2017

  • International Advisor, Journal of Social Health, 2018 - present

  • Member, London School of Economics Southeast Asia Early Career Researcher Network, 2020 - present

  • Member, Space for Engagement and Epistemic Diversity, Informal Urbanism Hub, Melbourne School of Design, 2021 - present

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  • Training Module Content Creator on Disasters and Climate Change for the Challenging Practice training programme of Architects Sans Frontieres UK, March - May 2021

  • Training Facilitator for Nature-Based Design for Flood Risk Management (Flood Green Guide), World Wildlife Fund USA, 2020 October - present

  • Expert Panel Member, Philippine National Design Policy Workshop, 2021 March

  • Anthropologist, Ethnography of Structures of Mutual Support, the Official Philippine Entry to the Venice Architecture Biennale, 2019 November - 2020 March

  • Program Head, Brown University International Advanced Research Institutes - Philippines, Community Resilience for Disasters, 2017 - 2018

  • Independent Trainor, Basic Qualitative Design Research for Startups, Ideaspace Bootcamp, 2018 (Makati City) and 2017 (Antipolo City)

  • Independent Trainor, Human Centered Design for Governance, City Government of Navotas, 2016 December

  • Conference Organiser, Circulating Anthropological Knowledge in the Public Sphere, the 38th Annual Conference of the Anthropological Association of the Philippines (Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao), Ateneo de Manila University. Quezon City, Philippines, 2016 October

  • Independent Trainor, Ethnographic Research, Southeast Asian Neighbourhoods Network, 2015 April - June

  • Participant and Volunteer Quantitative Research Trainor, Community Architects International Workshop, Manila, 2015 July

  • Volunteer Workshop Facilitator, Design Thinking for Disaster, National Climate Change Commission, 2013 February

  • Conference Organiser, Performing Heritage, the 30th Annual Conference of the Anthropological Association of the Philippines (Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao), San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines, 2008 October

  • Conference Organiser, The Philippines Unbound: Anthropological Critiques of Globalization, the 28th Annual Conference of the Anthropological Association of the Philippines (Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao), Siliman University, Dumaguete, Philippines, 2006 October

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  • Course Co-Coordinator (2019-2020), Urban Resilience, Master of Disaster Design and Development, RMIT University

  • Tutor (2019), Disaster Design and Development, Master of Disaster Design and Development, RMIT University

  • Lecturer (2014), Community Development and Social Change, BA Development Studies, Ateneo de Manila, University

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Work Experience

  • Associate, Environment and Disaster Programme (2020-present), World Wildlife Fund USA. Synthesises flood risk management knowledge and conducts training in Nature-based Solutions for Integrated Flood Risk Management (focusing on community engagement) to disaster professionals in the Asia Pacific Region. 

  • Founding President & Executive Research Director (2012-2018), Principal (2018-present), Curiosity Design Research. Lead the development and implementation of  ethnographic design research to develop products and services in multiple fields: disaster management, housing, women's rights, financial literacy, community health, education, grassroots communication, etc. Trained hundreds of participants from the public, private, and civic sectors in design research and design thinking.

  • Lead Consultant, Associate Planning Director, Strategic Planner and various other positions (2000-2011), The Ogilvy Group Asia Pacific [Manila, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur]. Led and co-developed strategic communication plans for six subsidiary companies, as well as corporate social responsibility campaigns for such NGOs as UNICEF and Gawad Kalinga.

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  • Alejandria, M.C.P., Cajilig, P.G. & Ancheta, A.A.  (2020, January). Disaster Archipelago - Locating Vulnerability and Resilience in the Philippines: A book launch panel. Panel discussion presented at the Off the Lip Conference on Cognitive Innovation for Sustainable Development, University of the Philippines, Los Banos.

  • Cajilig, P.G., Fien, J., Irajifar, L. (2019, October). Researching Participation within the Architecture of Post-disaster Housing Reconstruction: towards an ecology rooted in ‘ecologies of creative practice'. Talk presented at REAL MATERIAL ETHEREAL, Annual Design Research Conference, Monash University, Melbourne. 

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2016). Circulating Anthropology in Design: Identifications and Reflections. Tallk presented at the 38th Annual Conference of the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (UGAT)/ Anthropological Association of the Philippines: Circulating Anthropological Knowledge in the Public Sphere, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City.

  • Cajilig, P.G, & Maranan, D. S. (2015, September). Divergent Thinking In Disaster: Examples from Typhoon Haiyan Survivors. Talk presented at the Off the Lip, Plymouth University, UK.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2014, September). Wearing Your Map on Your Sleeve: Practices of Identification in the Creation and Consumption of Philippine Map T-shirts. Talk presented at the 6th Global Conference on Fashion: Exploring Critical Issues, Oxford University, UK.

  • Cajilig, P.G., & Maranan, D.S. (2013, October). Negotiating Misalignments at the Intersection of Design and Anthropology in Social Innovation Research. Talk presented at the 35th Annual Conference of the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (UGAT)/ Anthropological Association of the Philippines: Rethinking and Remaking Forms of Knowledge: The Critical Work of Anthropology, Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City.

  • Cajilig, P.G. (2011). The Appropriation of Anthropology in Market Research: Negotiating Misalignments. Talk presented at the 33rd Annual Conference of the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (UGAT)/ Anthropological Association of the Philippines: Aghamtaong Kaagapay, Central Mindanao University, Bukidnon.

About Me + CV: Text


  • PhD Candidate in Architecture and Design, RMIT University (2018 - present)

  • MA Anthropology, University of the Philippines, 2013 (GPA = 1.0/1.0)

  • BA Communication Research, University of the Philippines, 2000 (cum laude, Best Undergraduate Thesis)

About Me + CV: Text
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