Personal Finance


Truly, age is just a number. These nine Filipinos included in Forbes' list of 30 under 30 game-changers in Asia made use of their personal experiences and epiphanies to make their country — and even the world — a better place for all. They all have their own advocacies (poor communities, education, the environment) and talents (performing, visual arts, business), but their entrepreneurial approach, positive outlook and inventive minds make all the difference. Read on about these Forbes 30 under 30 visionaries and let the feeling of pride and inspiration move you to action!

Filipinos in Forbes 30 Under 30

Leandro Leviste, 22
Founder of Solar Philippines

This guy is all about breaking barriers and outside-the-box thinking. Leandro Leviste, son of politician Loren Legarda, shunned a life of politics — a path everyone, including himself, expected him to take up — to pursue a vision of a clean energy-powered Philippines. Despite odds stacked against him, among them funding, consumer education and powerful coal and oil companies, Leandro founded Solar Philippines, the country's first and only fully integrated solar company. Now his clients include mall giants SM and Robinsons, and for Leandro, who has the potential to hit the Forbes under 30 rich list, the future only looks bright and sunny.

Rachel de Villa, 23
Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Cropital

Sharing economy is experiencing a boom right now, thanks to the tech we wield at our fingertips. Rachel de Villa's foresight and her concern for the poor farmers of the Philippines compelled her to create a crowdfunding endeavor called Cropital, where investors are given the platform to shell out money that farmers can use as capital, and the backers can get as much as 30% returns. The entrepreneurship behind it is astounding (and was deemed worthy of Forbes 30 under 30 coverage), but Rachel's compassion makes it all the more inspiring.

Charice Pempengco, 23

At this point, who doesn't know Charice Pempengco? This birit queen is the ultimate model of international success as a musician. Thanks to YouTube, Charice went from singing in town fiestas and joining barangay singing contests to support her family to releasing wildly popular song hits, being featured in Ellen and the hit TV series Glee and performing alongside legends such as Celine Dion. At 23, she has become a legend herself, as well as one of the top earning celebrities under 30 in the Philippines.

Ronson Culibrina, 24
Visual artist

Ronson Culibrina graduated from the Technological University of the Philippines in 2011, but he has been exhibiting works and reaping awards long before he left school. He is now represented by Michael Janssen Gallery, a renowned contemporary gallery in Berlin hosting such luminaries as Ai Weiwei and Gianfranco Baruchello. The paintings of this Forbes 30 under 30 laureate express poignant commentaries on the current social milieu via meaningful distortions of iconic portraiture or landscape art replete with symbolic figures.

Koh Martinez Onozawa, 26
Co-founder and CEO of Loudbasstard

Bamboo has traditionally been used as musical instruments, among their many other uses, but Koh Martinez Onozawa's innovative mind took this concept to a whole new level: bamboo speakers! With Cebu-based Loudbasstard, Koh blended sustainability and technology to create something that not only offers entertainment (and Forbes under 30 recognition), but also transforms the lives of people from Cebu's poor communities through job creation.

Valenice Balace, 27
Founder and CEO of Peekawoo

Valenice Balace, along with her startup partners, created Peekawoo as a safer, less aggressive, less hookup-oriented dating app for young Asian women who want to meet new people with a friendlier, more wholesome approach compared to the more popular Western dating apps. Valenice got the idea by drawing on her unsatisfactory experiences using those other apps. Sticking to your principles and values doesn't mean you're not getting with the times, and Valenice is the perfect example.

Raphael Mijeno, 28
Co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of SALt

Raphael Mijeno established Sustainable Alternative Lighting, or SALt, with his sister Aisa Mijeno. The two invented a saltwater-powered lamp after an immersion with families living in the mountains that don't have access to electricity or even kerosene. It's an idea that seems simple, but to those who literally have nothing but salt, water and rice in their homes, it is life-changing. Their work was recognized by world leaders and no less than US President Barack Obama at the 2015 APEC Summit, as well as the most recent Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Xyza Cruz Bacani, 29

Xyza Cruz Bacani, who dropped out of school to work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong, sees photography as a universal language, through which she tells the story of her adopted home's urban jungle and the struggles of her fellow OFWs amid a foreign, often harsh, reality. Fueled by her passion, Xyza loaned money from her employer to buy a DSLR. Her works caught the eye of award-winning photographer Rick Rocamora, who then mentored her and helped set up her own exhibit. Her profiles have graced the New York Times and CNN. With her talent, Xyza overcame degrading stereotypes and gave a voice to those whose voices had been taken away from them. Making it to the Forbes under 30 list is just a cherry on top.

Henry Motte-Muñoz, 29
Founder of and co-founder of

Henry Motte-Muñoz is one of the few young people who actually did something about the widespread corruption and inequality in the country beyond posting statuses on Facebook or Twitter. His project,, is an anti-corruption website that educates people on government processes and their rights and issues reports on government offices and whether they're following the rules. This Harvard graduate also founded, a course-matching site that gives opportunities to high school students who need it most (so that more people can end up as Forbes 30 under 30 visionaries like him).