10 Filipinos on Forbes ’30 Under 30 Asia’ list

Chrisee Dela Paz

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10 Filipinos on Forbes ’30 Under 30 Asia’ list
Solar Philippines' Leandro Leviste, Loudbasstard's Koh Martinez Onozawa, and singer Charice are among Asia's game-changers

MANILA, Philippines – Ten Filipinos made it to Forbes Magazine‘s inaugural 30 under 30 Asia list recognizing the region’s top 300 young game-changers who are under 30.

In the first-ever Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia, the 22-year-old founder of Solar Philippines, Leandro Leviste, topped the list’s manufacturing and energy category.

Also recognized were singer Charice Pempengco, photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani, artist Ronson Culibrina, retailer Koh Martinez Onozawa, finance and venture capitalist Rachel de Villa, consumer technopreneur Valenice Balace, SALt co-founder Raphael Mijeno, social entrepreneur Henry Motte-Muñoz, and 15-year-old inventor Amin Hataman.

The Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list features 300 young entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders in Asia across 10 fields: arts (art and style, food and drink); manufacturing and energy; entertainment and sports; consumer technology; finance and venture capital; enterprise technology; media and marketing; health care and science; social entrepreneurs; and retail and e-commerce.

“The Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list is the first time ever that a company has put together such a comprehensive list to highlight and celebrate the work of young entrepreneurs and social leaders across Asia,” Alan Griffin, Forbes Media’s managing director of Digital Asia, said in a statement.

Leviste, 22, founder of Solar Philippines

Photo by Ruy Martinez/Rappler

Leviste started Solar Philippines in 2013 with a goal to help bring down electricity rates in the Philippines. The Yale University graduate is the son of Senator Loren Legarda with ex-husband businessman Tony Leviste.

Just a year after, the Bank of the Philippine Islands lent Solar Philippines $1 million to set up a 700-kilowatt solar rooftop power plant.

In January, Solar Philippines completed a $150-million, 63-megawatt solar farm, which is the largest in Luzon.

Pempengco, 23, singer

Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

After a 2008 YouTube video of Pempengco singing “I Have Nothing” went viral, she was invited to guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show where world-class musicians like David Foster took notice of her. Since then, Pempengco has starred in Glee, performed a duet with Celine Dion at the Madison Square Garden, and recorded hit single Pyramid with Iyaz, which topped the Billboard Dance Chart in 2010. 

Pempengco was the second Filipino to rank on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, according to Forbes Magazine.

De Villa, 23, co-founder & CTO of Cropital

Photo from Rachel de Villa's Facebook

De Villa is the co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of a multi-awarded crowdfunding platform for Filipino farmers called Cropital. She won in the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Workshop (YEDW), Manila leg, organized by GoNegosyo.

De Villa’s works were also recognized at the Unilever Philippines’ Creamsilk Women Empowerment Scholarship and Young Entrepreneurs Society Philippines’ Startup Summit Philippines National in August 2015, according to Forbes Magazine.

Balace, 27, founder & CEO of Peekawoo

Balace created dating service platform Peekawoo in 2013, receiving funding from Kickstart Ventures. Forbes Magazine said her dating site had about 25,000 users as of late 2014.

Peekawoo is part of the new wave of tech companies that seeks to revitalize technopreneurship in the Philippines.

According to Forbes, Balace has developed two patents.

Hataman, 15, inventor

Hataman is the youngest of the bunch. At an early age of 15, he invented biodegradable bags made from coconut by-product that disintegrate after a few days. 

Hataman received a bronze medal from the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering, and Environment Project for his invention in 2015. Forbes said he also bagged a gold medal in the International Young Inventors Olympiad in 2004.

He is the son of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman.

Onozawa, 26, co-founder & CEO of Loudbasstard

File photo from the 2013 Rappler Move Awards

Onozawa set up Loudbasstard in 2012, creating and selling bamboo music amplifiers that symbolize the  traditional Philippine culture.

According to Forbes, Onozawa’s company now averages monthly revenue of $20,000 and has added hybrid speakers to its product line. With only 5 employees, Loudbasstard has a network of contractors selling in Japan and in the country. 

Loudbasstard is now targeting the US market, Forbes said.

Cruz Bacani, 29, photographer

Photo from Xyza Cruz Bacani's Facebook

Cruz Bacani was recognized in the arts category for her black-and-white photos of street life in Hong Kong, where she worked as a domestic helper for several years.

“Her documentary photos have revealed conditions of domestic workers facing human rights issues,” Forbes said in its article.

In 2015, Cruz Bacani bagged the Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellows award.

Culibrina, 24, artist

Photo from Ronson Culibrina's Facebook

Forbes recognized Culibrina because of his paintings, which were made by deconstructing figures, symbols, and other elements that challenge stereotypes.

In 2011, Culibrina received a degree in fine arts from the Technological University of the Philippines.

Four years later, the world-renowned Michael Janssen Gallery in Berlin started representing him.

Mijeno, 28, co-founder & CFO of SALt

Photo courtesy of DOST

SALt, an enterprise Mijeno co-founded with his sister Aisa, made noise when his sister had a chance to be on stage with US President Barack Obama and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November in Manila.

Making an eco-friendly light source that runs on saltwater, his enterprise SALt won the Kotra Award-Startup Nations Summit in 2014 and Asia Entrepreneurship Award in 2015, among others.

Motte-Muñoz, 29, co-founder of Bantay.ph

Photo from the Harvard Business School alumni website

Social entrepreneur Motte-Muñoz co-founded anti-corruption NGO Bantay.ph, which has received $150,000 in donations so far.

Motte-Muñoz also won as the founder of Edukasyon.ph for social entrepreneurs – a student-course matching service with a database of classes and scholarships.

He graduated from the London School of Economics, and worked for Goldman Sachs in London, focusing on mergers and acquisitions. Motte-Muñoz then went to Harvard Business School.

Selection process

Forbes said over a dozen reporters in China, Australia, India, and other countries in the region worked to research and come up with thousands of nominations covering all fields. 

Forbes also had a panel of 30 judges who helped decide who would make it to the final list. Judges include designer Kenzo Takada and Hollywood actress Michelle Yeoh as well as experts in their fields like venture capitalist Kaifu Lee, businesswoman Solina Chau, and magnate Allan Zeman. – Rappler.com

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