Though no Filipino has ever set foot on the International Space Station (ISS), the Philippines is currently enjoying 30 days of fame on the ISS thanks to a talented Pinoy 13-year-old named Kiko Dumaup.
Kiko was one of the 12 winners of a 2018 calendar artwork contest held by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 2017, and his prize-winning submission is the featured artwork in the calendar’s September 2018 spread.
The calendar was transmitted in December 2017 to the ISS, which is currently in low orbit approximately 330 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
It’s safe to say that whenever a member of the ISS’ six-man-crew glances at the calendar this month, he or she will be thinking of Kiko and the Philippines because the boy’s vibrant artwork depicting an astronaut floating “above” the Solar System is labelled as the creation of “Kiko, 12 (from) Metro Manila, Philippines.”
So how did Kiko’s artwork end up being eyeballed by the crew of the International Space Station? Last October, as Kiko’s artist/mother Abbie Dumaup was scanning her Facebook feed, she came across an announcement on NASA’s FB page about its 2018 Children’s Artwork Calendar Contest.
The competition’s primary objective was to create a calendar that would educate students about the ISS and the work of astronauts. After reading that the contest was “open to all Earthlings aged four to twelve years old,” she encouraged then-12-year-old Kiko (who has been sketching since he was four) to try his luck.
Though he had never joined an art contest before, Kiko studied the sample artworks that NASA posted with the contest’s rules & guidelines. He began drawing and coloring and, after several days, emailed his submission in time to beat NASA’s November 2 deadline.
In December 2017, Kiko received an email saying that out of the 3,000+ entries submitted by children from all over the world, his artwork was one of the 12 winners chosen by NASA to be published in its 2018 Commercial Crew Program Children’s Artwork Calendar.
Needless to say, Kiko was over the moon because of the news. In January 2018, Kiko received his prizes: an autographed photo of astronaut Robert L. Behnken (who has logged more than 708 hours in space, and more than 37 hours during six spacewalks), a couple of NASA sticker patches, and the calendar itself. Kiko’s submission is the main artwork of the calendar’s September 2018 spread, whose theme is “Exploring the Solar System.”
Kiko is currently a Grade 8 student in the Ateneo de Manila Junior High School, but was in Grade 7 when he joined and won the calendar contest.
Not surprisingly, his current favorite subject in school is Art. When drawing, Kiko favors realism over surrealism and prefers black-and-white to color. (Paul Daza)