Pinoy astronaut visits U.S. relatives as space flight remains delayed

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

July 7, 2014

TORRANCE, Calif. – It was a big family reunion for the Maniquis clan with some of the 160 relatives coming from as far as the Middle East, Canada and Europe.

And one of them will soon have the chance to go to outer space.

Chino Roque, one of the winners of the Axe Apollo Space Academy, joined his relatives in California over the weekend.

“It’s really nice seeing all my relatives. It’s a blessing to be sharing all my stories, being an inspiration to most of the young kids in my clan,” Roque said.

Roque will become the first Filipino astronaut after he was one of 23 winners in the Axe Apollo Space Academy competition.

After some space training in Florida, Roque will embark on a space flight next year with other winners.

While the flight has been delayed to next year, the La Salle grad has kept busy staying in shape, physically and mentally.

“All I plan on do is train become better at being an astronaut. Maybe study more about what I can learn, what I can see, what I can expect in space,” Roque said.

For the Maniquis clan, which includes a handful of community leaders, professionals, and elected local officials, the young spaceman was a big hit at the reunion.

“A lot of our kids, nephews, nieces were presidential awardees…all in honor roll, 4.0 students but this is a very unique honor to have been chosen as a Filipino astronaut,” Lito Santarina, Mayor Pro Temp of Carson and Chino’s uncle, said.

“It’s not about the limelight shining down on me. It’s more for everyone. My accomplishment is theirs. We’re all under one name, one blood,” Roque said.

Last week, Roque and his accomplishments were honored by the city of Carson, where Santarina serves as vice mayor.

As he waits for the green light on his space mission, Roque will visit more family in the East Coast.

Next month, when he returns to the Philippines, he will begin pursuing his studies in aviation.

You may contact Steve Angeles at for more information.

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