These 5 Youths are the Only Filipinos to Land on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2020 List

IMAGE SPIN.PH/ INSTAGRAM @breechharani @louisedgmabulo @margielyndidal @francisplaza

This year is proving to be challenging, but despite the circumstances, there are still reasons to celebrate, particularly for five young Filipinos who managed to land the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list of 2020. In the annual list of 300 trailblazers in 10 fields, 22 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region were represented in the lineup, including the Philippines. The 300 game-changers were selected based on leadership, impact, success, and entrepreneurial spirit.  

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You need conviction in your own beliefs, and the willingness to ignore others naysaying.

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Founder and CEO of PayMongo, Francis Plaza was the only Filipino to land on the Finance & Venture Capital list of Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia. At only 26 years old, Plaza heads the online payments platform PayMongo, which made headlines last year after it raised $2.7 million in seed funding from Silicon Valley, the biggest investment of a Filipino startup to date. Plaza graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s in computer science and engineering after he started university at only 16 years old.

Like Plaza, Louise Emmanuelle Mabulo was the only Filipino to land on the Social Entrepreneurs list for her efforts at the Cacao Project, a social enterprise that supports and teaches sustainably farming to cacao farmers in the Philippines. The project also advocates reforestation efforts and agricultural sustainability. Co-founder Mabulo is only 21 years old, but has already been recognized with the prestigious Young Champion of the Earth 2019 award by the United Nations Environment Programme.

Two Filipino athletes made it on the Entertainment & Sports list, one of which was gymnast Carlos Yulo. He is the first male athlete in Southeast Asia and the first Filipino to win gold at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in 2019. The win also secures his qualification to represent the Philippines in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which has since been postponed. Yulo is only 20 years old but is already being touted as the best gymnast to come out of the Philippines.


The second Filipino athlete on the Entertainment & Sports is the world-renown, 20-year-old Margielyn Didal, who has carved a name for herself in the skateboarding world. The Cebuano bagged the gold at the Asian Games in 2018 during the women’s street skateboarding event, and again at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Didal is currently preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, which includes skateboarding as a competing sport for the first time ever.

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Media Interview for ABS-CBN with Don Tagala. #iemmyFEST #iemmys #abscbn

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As for The Arts list, filmmaker, photographer, and digital artist Breech Asher Harani was the only Filipino to be recognized. Harani gained national and then international fame when he won an award from the International Emmy World Television Festival 2019 (International Emmys) for his short film Next to Me, which follows the story of Muslim students who were displaced by the Battle of Marawi in 2017. Harani now heads Alexandrite Pictures, an independent film studio that produces thought-provoking films and projects.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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