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Jan 12, 2016
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You might be looking at the first-ever Filipina—no, one of the first women to set foot on and live on Mars.

Yes, you read that right. In a couple of years from now—year 2026 to be exact—this pretty girl right here has the chance to hop inside a space shuttle and embark on a seven month-long, 225 million-kilometer journey to the red planet. Together with three other brave souls, they will explore and colonize Earth's nearest cousin.

Her name is Jaymee Del Rosario, a 28-year-old California-based entrepreneur and one of only two Filipinas shortlisted from over 202,586 applicants for the ambitious space project called "Mars One." The other Filipina is 25-year-old freelance writer Minerva Rañeses. They are currently down to 100 applicants, with the final 24 candidates to be announced this September.

The Mars One program is a privately funded space venture from The Netherlands that aspires to explore and establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Volunteers who pass the tests will be given a one-way ticket, all-expense paid to the said planet. If the project succeeds, it'll make them the first official residents of Marsville.

Mars One will initially send a four-man crew (two male, two females) in 2026. The subsequent crews will depart every 26 months or roughly every two years.

Jaymee is currently the CEO of a company called the International Metal Source. The industrial firm has been distributing raw metals and exotic alloys to aerospace, defense, and commercial industries since 1999. She's also the co-founder of the social media app Giggup and a huge fan of fitness running. 

Last Friday, January 8, Jaymee was the guest speaker at the "Pandesal Forum." The forum tackles local socio-economic issues and is regularly held at the Kamuning Bakery and Café in Quezon City.

We got to talk to Jaymee about her possible moving-out to Mars—and if she's willing to grace our pages before she permanently changes her intergalactic address.


First of all, aren't you scared?

When I saw the Mars One program, I really became interested, because my metals, the materials my company distributes [like] titanium, aluminum go to space. Of course I was scared, everybody gets scared. The fear is always there. When I thought about it—it's one-way, the technology that can make us capable of traveling to Mars and back doesn't exist yet. But maybe in the future, when we become the pioneers in Mars, our children or our children's children might be able to come back home. So, that's the goal. Unfortunately, now, it's one-way.

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If ever, you'll be one of the first humans to set foot on Mars. Moreover, you’ll be attempting to build a colony. Doesn't all this sound like a suicide mission to you?
If I'm going to exit that way, it's still kind of fulfilling because it's for my dream. Also, it's for the sake of humanity. If you're going to ask me if I'm afraid that I'm going to be left alone? Hindi naman kasi apat kaming pupunta. [We're composed of] two women, two males, and we will all be coming from different countries.

There are only 16 candidates remaining from Asia, and two of us are Filipinas. I am convinced that with my experience, background, and urge to learn every day, I'm going to get chosen. And if I don't, then I'm happy that I have created awareness for space exploration. That is enough for me, and I will continue that even if I don't get to go.

How was the competition like?
It was very hard. I'm competing with judges, scientists, pilots, even experienced astronauts. The competition was very diverse and everybody can contribute something to the table. From 200,000 [applicants], we're now down to 100. The selection committee is really looking for someone who's unique.

Does the selection process include searching for latent powers like The Martian's Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who had otherworldly planting talent?
The first part was you have to write about yourself. Then they asked some psychological questions like "What was the most traumatizing thing that happened in your life and how did you deal with it?" It's really more of a mental thing. I think the key is you always have to be mentally present and psychologically sane.

Has exploring the space frontier always been your dream?
When I was young, I wasn't fascinated with science fiction. I've always watched the movies, Star Wars and Star Trek, but I was not really into science. I wasn't like, "I'm going to Mars one day," kasi I just wanted to get work, maybe in accounting or something.

When I started my company back in 2009, that's when I got to work with engineers, metallurgists, fabricators, top intelligent men in the air and space defense industry. I worked side-by-side with them. Being able to understand the data and the science and technology behind it, that made me really interested—and eventually made me go [and volunteer] for Mars One. This is history in the making and it's nice to be a part of it.

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So while you’re still waiting for your ticket to the red planet, what are you currently into?
I'm trying to pursue a Mechanical and Electrical Engineering degree at Mount Loyola Marymount University. But I'm already a certified Composite Fabricator Technician. I'm also a certified blueprint reader as well. I haven't got any bachelor's [degree] kasi wala na akong time when I started the company.

You're only 28 and already the CEO of your own company. Tell us, how can we be successful like you?
I think entrepreneurs they won't be entrepreneurs kung may fear sila 'di ba? I think entrepreneurs should not have fear. If you want to do something crazy, then go for it. Dapat wala talagang limitations. Just follow your heart and follow your dreams. Don't look back.

Lastly, if ever you get selected, how can we convince you to pose in our magazine before you say goodbye to Earth?
My goal right now is to make sure that I can help the Philippines with materials, [build] awareness with science and education. Yan talaga ang gusto kong gawin. So yun talaga, if I will go into magazines, I would have to talk about science. If I can do that, then I'll go on magazines! Ha ha!

 

Photos by Mike Dee

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