Filipina caregiver wins 'X-Factor Israel'

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


"Thank you so much for those Israeli who like my voice...thank you for giving me the chance to be in the X Factor Israel," Fostanes said.

Israeli singer Shiri Maimon, a judge on the show and former reality TV contestant herself, has served as Fontanes' mentor.

Young female singer Eden Ben Zaken, who was mentored by rock singer Rami Fortis, won the second place.




The Filipina emerged as the star of Israeli reality television, putting a human face on the thousands of foreign workers who toil away in menial, back-breaking jobs in this country.

Israeli viewers of the country's myriad of reality shows have grown accustomed to successful candidates from various backgrounds, including black-clad ultra-Orthodox Jews, Ethiopian immigrants and a German convert to Judaism who became a celebrity chef. But they've never seen someone like Rose Fostanes before.

The diminutive woman with a booming voice has taken "X-Factor Israel" by storm and emerged as a national phenomenon. Known simply as "Rose," she is mobbed by fans wherever she goes.

Fostanes arrived six years ago to work as a caregiver so, like millions of other Filipino workers around the world, she could send money back home to her family and her girlfriend.

She spends her days caring and cleaning for an ailing woman in her 50s. To save money, Fostanes lives in a crowded apartment in south Tel Aviv, a downtrodden area inhabited by foreign laborers, with seven others.

Until recently, Fostanes was among the thousands of Filipinos who work in similar positions in Israel. The site of Filipino workers wheeling elderly Israelis in public places is so common that the word "Filipini" has become synonymous with "caregiver."

Fostanes said she has dreamed of singing since she was a child, but suffered discrimination because of her appearance. She said she still can't believe how far she has come.

Fostanes said she has been a caregiver since the age of 23, working in Egypt and Lebanon before coming to Israel. She is among the roughly 10 million Filipinos, or 10 percent of the overall population, who work abroad.(AP/DDA/Sunnex)

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