Filipina now serving as IDF combat soldier fights for the country that saved her grandma

A Filipina’s zealousness and deep appreciation to the people and country who helped and rescued her relatives after a calamitous event that hit the Philippines has motivated and inspired her to join the Israel army.

Staff Sgt. Joana Chris Arpon, 20, is the daughter of Filipino parents who came to Israel to find work. She said she volunteered to join IDF because an Israeli army team rescued her grandmother in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines in 2013.

Arpon is now a combat soldier serving for Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and was one of the 121 soldiers awarded for exemplary service on Tuesday (May 2) during Israel’s 69th Independence Day celebration.

She received her award from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

“It was amazing to see the soldiers show up and help people. They saved my grandmother when her house was destroyed,” Arpon said. “I was like, “Whoa, that’s what I want to do.’”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Arpon was born in Israel.

“She always felt like part of the Jewish state. While many Filipinos live clustered in Israel’s big cities, her mother raised her and her older brother in the small town of Mishmar Hashiva, in central Israel. At their high school in nearby Rishon Lezion, they were the only Filipino students,” the JTA report added.

The news agency learned that Arpon’s mother immigrated to Israel in 1988 to work as a nanny, and stayed to raise her children even after her husband left. The vast majority of the some 31,000 Filipinos who live in Israel are female caregivers.

According to Israel’s immigration regulations, Filipinos are only allowed to live in Israel as temporary workers. But Arpon and her brother are among the hundreds of Filipino children the government has granted permanent residency, along with their immediate family members. After the children serve in the army, their families qualify for citizenship.

A month after typhoon Haiyan, Arpon flew with her family to the Philippines to visit her grandmother in the hospital. Israel had sent soldiers and other emergency responders to help, and Arpon learned that its army’s Search and Rescue Unit had helped save her grandmother from her destroyed home.

Upon her return to Israel, she joined the army as a non-citizen and was granted her preferred placement — in the Search and Rescue Unit.

“I’m really glad I chose this type of service, where I was able to help the country that helped me,” Arpon said. “I see my future in Israel.”

SOURCE: Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Photo Credit: IDF,


[This article was submitted by Deo Sambilay, a guest writer of the KDN/internet community. The views and opinion expressed herein are that of the original author.]