AFTER he was chosen to be the first Filipino astronaut to fly in space in 2015, 22-year-old Chino Roque vowed to bring hope and pride for the country.
Roque, who is a crossfit trainer, was named the first Filipino astronaut after legendary spaceman Buzz Aldrin declared him as one of 24 astronauts to fly in space onboard a Space Expedition Corporation shuttle in 2015.
Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, served as lunar module pilot for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, in 1969.
“My mission in flying to space is to bring hope and bring pride to Filipino people. That carries my feat to any of my destinations,” Roque told reporters after he was officially named as the first Filipino astronaut.
When asked if what he would be bringing to space, Roque said a Holy Rosary, which he always keeps in his pocket, and a Philippine flag.
Roque, a psychology graduate from De La Salle University (DLSU), was declared the first Filipino astronaut after five days of grueling tests and challenges at the AXE Apollo Space Academy Space Camp in Orlando, Florida in the United States (US).
“At the awarding ceremonies, when they called my name, all I could think about is how fortunate I am. From the start, this had been the experience of a lifetime,” he added.
Roque bested compatriots Evan Ray Datuin and Ramil Santos for the title via impressive performances in the Air Combat Training, G Force Training, and Assault Course.
The three Filipinos had earlier flown to the US to take part in a five-day intense astronaut training that employed the same methods and equipment used to hone the skills of astronauts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
“I am grateful to the team of admirable guys i went to Space camp with Ramil and Evan as well as the support of my family, friends and countrymen,” said Roque.
At the AXE Space Camp, the three Filipino representatives experienced Zero-gravity Parabolic Flights on board a Boeing 727, Air Combat Training on board an SIAI Marchetti SF260 and Hyper-Gravity G Force Training.
The entire Filipino delegation, especially Roque, impressed the AXE and Space Expedition Corp. judges with their performance on the challenges.
Roque was one of the few who were able to maneuver the plane. All the three delegates pushed their bodies to the limit as they took on the incredible pressures of hyper-gravity at four times the force of Earth’s gravity.
AXE Brand Manager Gem Laforteza said the Filipino people are proud of the country’s representatives to the AXE Apollo campaign.
“They, especially Chino, showed that Filipinos are courageous, determined, and resilient,” he added.
He added: “We would like to believe that AXE’s campaign has inspired Filipinos and people everywhere to imagine the unimaginable.”
The Philippines was among the top countries that participated in the global campaign with over 28,000 applications for the opportunity to become the first Filipino to ever go to space.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO