More Filipinos in space? One man thinks it's possible
MANILA, Philippines - Crossfit coach Chino Roque will soon start his journey to outer space. Though he will become the first Pinoy astronaut, Roque says he will not be the last.
READ: Chino Roque: First Filipino to go to space
Roque was the subject of both envy and inspiration when his victory in the Axe Apollo Space Academy competition on December 6, 2013 quickly spread over social media.
With over 13,000 shares on Facebook, Roque carries the hopes of thousands of Filipinos who dream of reaching infinity and beyond. Many have wondered what it would mean for other Filipinos with dreams of going to space.
'Nothing beats an astronaut'
The Axe Apollo Space Academy was launched in Januray 2013 with a competition to bring 23 people to space. Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, globally endorsed the chance for 'regular people' to embark on a space mission. The campaign started with a series of humerous ads with the "nothing beats an astronaut" tagline.
WATCH: Axe Apollo TV spots
The competition attracted more than 100 participants from all over the world, with finalists finishing their training in Orlando, Florida.
After stomach churning challenges in zero gravity, as well as countless physical tests, 23 victors emerged representing various countries including Germany, South Africa, and India.
READ: A Filipino in space by 2014
Multi-national corporation Unilever and Space Expedition Corporation (Space XC), are the global organizers of the event.
Man with a mission
With the mission set to launch in 2014, Roque says it won't just be an easy ride for him and his fellow astronauts.
"Most people think that we will just be passengers there, but we are actually being trained to co-pilot the mission," he said.
The sports enthusiasts that he is, Roque remains grounded and focused on his goal.
He is no stranger to hard work and dissapointment. During a football match in 2011, Roque dislocated his shoulder and elbow. This injury later haunted him during a challenge in the competition that required him to balance a 15-pound plate for 2 hours. Unable to fully straighten his arm, Roque was disqualified.
Dissapointed, Roque was ready to return to his work as a crossfit coach. Things took an unexpected turn when one of the finalists in the top 3 backed out. Having excelled in all the other physical challenges, Roque found himslef back in the competition.
We can do it
Roque believes this generation will see the dawn of space tourism. The momentum for civilian space travel has already been set.
"There will be other oppurtunities for those who are hard working and dedicated. We can do it. There is a future in space travel for Filipinos...even if we are a developing country," he told Rappler.
While he prepares for his 2014 date with destiny, Roque will continue his work as a crossfit training coach, helping his students become stronger. He also plans to save money so he can fulfill his dream of becoming a liscenced pilot.
The former competition underdog is grateful for the oppurtunity, not just for himself but for his fellow countrymen.
"Its a big responsibility, I'm doing this for Filipinos. I have a lot to prove." - Rappler.com