MANILA, Philippines – As the search for the first Filipino astronaut continues, 400 aspirants from the AXE Apollo Space Academy (A.A.S.A) Philippines competed during the AXE Apollo National Challenge held at the Bonifacio Global City on August 31.
The two victors, who underwent rigorous trials, will be sent to the international AXE Apollo Space Camp in the United States in December for astronaut training, together with more than a hundred other candidates from other parts of the world, in preparation for any chance of being sent to space.
However, the third slot will be selected through an electronic raffle called the AXE Apollo Hyperdrive Promo, giving a chance to go with the two winners to Space camp for every purchase of an AXE Apollo body spray.
“It’s been over 7 months since we started this nationwide search for the first Pinoy astronaut. Now that we are down to the Top 400, I think it’s really starting to sink in that pretty soon we will be sending one of these people to space,” says AXE Philippines Brand Manager Gem Laforteza.
One out of twenty-three tickets that are now at stake will certainly goes to a contender from the Philippines, who will be tagged as the first Filipino astronaut.
“I’m proud to have been involved in the selection process for the first Filipino astronaut. Naniniwala talaga ako na talentado ang mga Pinoy. We deserve this opportunity. And that’s why we’ve tried our best to make sure that whoever gets it really deserves the one-in-a-hundred-million chance to go to space,” says AXE Apollo National Selection Director Luis Manzano.
Through the efforts of AXE and cable channel AXN, the AXE Apollo National Challenges was realized that tested the skill, determination and “hero-factor” of the candidates.
The first challenge tested their intellectual prowess,mathematical wit, abstract reasoning, color recognition and spatial reasoning, ran in virtual space designed to get only 400 top applicants who advanced to the second challenge.
After the intellectual test, it was followed by physical fitness test wherein candidates underwent a military-inspired obstacle course, from which best 50 applicants were selected.
Finally, the third challenge aimed to test the endurance and willpower of the candidates called the “last heroes standing”, wherein they were asked to stand on pegs until two most determined candidates left, Rey Datuin and Mario Mendoza Jr.
“I think anyone would be happy with making it to the Top 3 who will be sent to the US for astronaut training. Even if you don’t make it to space, Space Camp is still a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Pero siyempre, iba pa rin ‘yung masasabi mo na nag-bakasyon ka sa space,” said AXE Apollo National Selection Director Sam Gogna of the Boys Night Out.
Faye Michelle Regis
ABCom, Leyte Normal University