Filipina caregiver is surprise star of Israel's X-Factor

Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:02am EST
 
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By Rami Amichai

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Once part of a faceless crowd of foreign workers who clean homes and tend to Israel's sick and elderly, a Filipina caregiver has shot to stardom on a popular TV singing contest.

Rose Fostanes, 47, surprised viewers of Israel's X-Factor talent show and swept its judges off their feet with soulful renditions of pop songs by the likes of Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera. And she has rocked her way to Tuesday's live final.

Fostanes hopes her popularity on the show will shine a spotlight on Israel's low-paid foreign workers, who include about 20,000 Filipinos.

For many Israelis, the word "Filipino" has become synonymous with caregiver, and Fostanes' appearance and success on X-Factor could help break the stereotype.

"I think I will be a leader for them because of what I did and I think also they will be proud of me," she told Reuters on Sunday. "Everybody in the world will know that Filipinos, even working as a cleaner ... can also share their talents."

Fostanes, who came to Israel four years ago, has been working for about 20 years across the Middle East. She had always wanted to be a professional singer and the X-Factor gave her a shot at her dream.

At first she thought Israelis would not vote for a foreign worker, and that she would be an underdog in the competition, where viewers and a panel of four Israeli musicians determine at different stages which contender moves up and which gets dropped.

"I feel that everybody is looking at me like I was an alien," she said on one of the early audition episodes of the show. "A Filipina working here, cleaning houses."   Continued...

 
Rose Fostanes,47, a Filipina caregiver, (R) and Shiri Maimon, an Israeli pop singer and a judge in Israel's X-Factor talent show, sing during a rehearsal in Tel Aviv January 12, 2014. REUTER/Baz Ratner