Pinay caregiver is 'X Factor Israel' winner

Posted at 01/15/14 5:26 AM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Filipina singing caregiver Rose Fostanes is the first season winner of "X Factor Israel."

During the live finale show on Tuesday (Wednesday morning in Manila), Fostanes sang the Frank Sinatra classic "My Way" with an orchestra.


After her emotional performance, she received a standing ovation from the judges and audience.

Fostanes' younger sister, Nancy, and long-time partner, Mel Adel, were brought to Israel by the show and were present during the finals night.

After she entered the top 3 following the elimination of the group Fusion, Fostanes also sang the Alicia Keys hit song, “If I Ain’t Got You,” with her mentor Shiri Maimon.

"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 after she won. She also thanked the thousands of Filipinos who supported her.

"I love you, I'm so proud of you," said Maimon.

Placing second was a young female singer, Eden Ben Zaken, who was mentored by rock singer, Rami Fortis.

Osang, as she is fondly called by close friends, continues to be an inspiration to many, particularly overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Many OFWs in Israel voted for her, and thousands expressed their support for her via social media.

She showed Israel and the world how, at 47 years old, one can still fulfill her dreams while striving hard abroad for her loved ones back home.

During the competition, Fostanes got several standing ovations from all four judges and the audience in her performances, including her audition where she sang a Shirley Bassey song titled "This is my life."

'Susan Boyle of the Philippines'

Fostanes was once part of a faceless crowd of foreign workers who clean homes and tend to Israel's sick and elderly.

But her success and shot to stardom drew much surprise.

Belting out hit songs by the likes of pop stars Queen and Christina Aguilera, Fostanes surprised Israeli viewers and swept the judges of the Israeli X-Factor off their feet with her soulful renditions and swinging beat.

Fostanes said the show had turned her world upside down.

"Being in the X-Factor really changed my life because before I had a very low self-esteem and now I got a good confidence for myself and I got friends and people love me on the street and I got many compliments from them, good compliments," she told Reuters.

There are about 20,000 Filipinos working legally in Israel, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, with most working as cleaners and caretakers for the elderly and disabled.

So much so in fact, that in Israel the word "Filipino" is often considered synonymous with "caregiver".

Fostanes, 47, said she has been working for about 20 years across the Middle East, and came to work in Israel four years ago.

She had always wanted to be a professional singer, and the Israeli X-Factor, she said, gave her a final shot at a dream she hoped could inspire others.

"Being in this competition, I think I that I am, how do you say this, I will be a leader for them because of what I did," she said, referring to her compatriots and fellow caregivers.

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"I think also they will be proud of me, and they will be - and everybody in the world will know that Filipinos, even working as a cleaner, or whatever a foreign worker can also share their talents and they can also be a part of a big event like this," she added.

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

But, to her surprise, the votes, cast via text messages or on the show's website, kept on coming in, and have catapulted Fostanes to celebrity status in Israel.

Shiri Maimon, Fostanes' mentor on the show and herself was a finalist in a musical reality show "A Star is Born" more than 10 years ago -- said the eventual outcome of the program was not what people would remember about her.

"I think she made an amazing journey here in Israel and I think the Israeli people gave her so much strength, and now she believes in herself," she told Reuters Television.

"She knows that she can be a singer, she needs to stand on a stage, to perform, that's what she needs to do and hopefully she is going to be one of the best singers in Israel," she added.

Fostanes told Reuters there were still things she needed to return to even after winning the competition.

"But I have to go back to my work as a caregiver," she said.

Fostanes has been compared to Scottish singer Susan Boyle, 52, who shot to fame in 2009 after appearing on the TV show "Britain's Got Talent" and performing a flawless rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables."

Boyle's life story from unknown Scot to multimillion-selling recording artist has been made into a musical. - with a report from Reuters