Fourteen (14) Agriculture students from Aurora State College of Technology (ASCOT) who have completed their 11-month On-the-Job Training course under the Student Internship Abroad Program (SIAP) of the Granot Agrostudies Program in Israel were among the 260 Filipino Agriculture students repatriated from Israel on three scheduled flights to Manila.

These agri-students were part of an agricultural internship program called the Granot Agrostudies Program under the sponsorship of MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation. This annual program has 30 participating State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in the Philippines including ASCOT. It sends Filipino agriculture students to train in Israeli farms and acquire new learning in the latest agricultural farming techniques and technologies. The students started their internship in October 2019 and ended in September 2020 but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown in Israel, their scheduled return flights were cancelled, thus, they were stranded for several weeks in Israel.

On October 14, 2020, four (4) ASCOT students namely; Marinelle Ancheta, Jessica Soria, Novicio Soria, and Jeffrey Beneg were among the first batch of stranded students to arrive in the Philippines on flight El Al Israel Airlines direct flight to Manila from Tel Aviv. It is interesting to note that this Israeli flag carrier plane has landed in the Philippines for the second time since their typhoon Yolanda Humanitarian mission in 2013.

The second batch composed of six (6) students; Vernie Corpuz, Mark Jel De Guzman, Justhin Casandig, James Benedick Ganacias and Alvin Ancheta arrived in the Philippines on October 21, 2020 on flight Ethiopian Airlines; while the last batch of four (4) students; Adolfo Sabogo, Aien Padua, Ian Jay Ora, and Arjay Pague, arrived on October 24, 2020.

The Agrostudies student interns were assisted by CHED through the help of the Task Group on Management of Returning Overseas Filipinos (TGM-ROF), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Philippine Army (PA), Civil-Military Operations Regiment, and RRCG Transport System Co. Inc., upon their arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), The returning students, adhering to safety protocols being implemented underwent the mandatory quarantine and while waiting for the RT-PCR Swab testing results they stayed at the University Pad in Manila. They were then fetched by ASCOT vehicle for their safe return to their respective homes.

These students are expected to practice the new knowledge and expertise they have acquired from almost a year of training in Israel in order to help improve not only agriculture in the countryside but Philippine agriculture.