FFE Magazine

First Filipino in space soon to be picked

by FFE PH News staff

For three Filipino hopefuls, space is just one step away.

As the Axe Apollo Space Academy gears up for training, dreams of going into outer space are close to coming true for Hotel and Restaurant Management graduate Evan Rey Datuin, 24; freelance graphic artist Ramil Montalvo Santos, 29 and Philippine Air Force lieutenant Mario Mendoza Jr., 31. The three will start training in the United States Space Camp in Florida by the end of the year.

The three hopefuls have been chosen in the global Axe Apollo Space Academy contest which will send 23 people on a suborbital space flight.

Mendoza and Datuin both passed the national voting contest, IQ test and military-style obstacle race in Bonifacio Global City earlier this year. They finally secured their places after competing in a ‘last man standing’ course where they stood on a peg for hours.

Santos initially did not make the cut. But he was granted the last slot after being selected in a Hyperdrive promo in September.

Axe Philippines brand manager Gem Laforteza said that the contest was an opportunity to ‘help a nation like ours to dream big.’ For Datuin, whose father was an airport engineer, the competition was a dream-come-true as he always wanted to become a pilot.

For his part, Mendoza saw the opportunity as a step higher in his career: ‘I’m already in the Air Force and I’ve accomplished so many things at this point in my life. I realised: “What’s next? What’s the next big dream?” So I thought: Why not go into space? Why not be an astronaut?’

Santos meanwhile confessed that the chance to go to space reawakened his childhood fantasies. He is also happy to represent the country in the contest.

The top ‘graduates’ of the Axe Apollo Space Academy will be the pioneers of the two-seater XCOR Lynx Mark II spacecraft to be launched in 2014. The flight will have the winners breaking the outer space boundary 100km above sea level.

Filipino scientist Custer Deocaris hopes that the campaign will push for the establishment of a local space agency, aerospace dome and space flight simulators in the Philippines. He said ‘We have very few scientists in the Philippines. If we can bring greater consciousness of space science, then we’ll have children interested in the sciences and pursuing science careers.’

Mendoza left an important message for the youth as he prepares for his training in December: ‘As young as you are now, keep dreaming. I am probably at half of my life, and I’m still dreaming. Work on it. Keep believing in yourself. Harness your potentials. You can do it.’

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