Rose Fostanes, a diminutive 47-year-old Filipina caregiver, has emerged as the newest star of Israeli reality television, winning the singing competition “X-Factor Israel” on Tuesday and establishing herself as something of a national phenomenon.
In an upset victory, Fostanes beat out three other finalists by performing crowd-pleasing renditions of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You,” and ”Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics.
Fostanes arrived in Israel 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.
“It’s a big change in my life because before nobody recognized me, nobody knew me. But now everybody, I think everybody in Israel knows my name. And it is very funny,” she said in an interview with AP last week.
Fostanes spends her days caring and cleaning for an ailing woman in her 50s. To save money, she lives in a crowded apartment in south Tel Aviv, a downtrodden area inhabited by foreign laborers, with seven others.
Several months ago, a friend encouraged her to enter the “X-Factor” competition, a popular show hosted by Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.
Standing just 1.50 meters-tall (4-foot-11), Fostanes has captured her audiences’ hearts with a surprisingly strong and soulful voice, belting out such hits as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Lady Gaga’s “You and I.”
Israeli singer Shiri Maimon, a judge on the show and former reality TV contestant herself, has served as Fontanes’ “mentor” throughout the season.