Rose Fostanes, the diminutive 47-year-old Filipina caregiver who became the newest star of Israeli reality television last week by winning the singing competition “X-Factor Israel,” will legally be allowed to make money as a singer in Israel, the Ministry of the Interior stated Sunday.
Fostanes, who had been in Israel on a special work visa for caregivers which only allowed her to work legally in that one profession, was officially granted a permit to work as a singer in exchange for giving up her caregiver status. The proposal was made after Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar instructed the Population, Immigration and Border Authority to issue a singing permit for Fostanes.
Fostanes chose to switch her caregiver’s visa for an artist’s visa after discussing the matter with the family of an ailing woman in her 50s she had been caring for. The family was required to give its consent, and did so.
Fostanes arrived in Israel six years ago to work as a caregiver so, much like millions of other Filipino workers around the world, she could send money back home to her family and her girlfriend. Fostanes lives in a small apartment in Tel Aviv with seven other Filipinos. She has been working abroad since she was 23, and has not been home to see her family in two years. At least 20,000 Filipinos work in Israel, mostly as caregivers.
In her upset X-Factor victory, Fostanes, who stands at just 1.5 meters-tall (4-foot-11), captured her audiences’ hearts with her strong and soulful voice, and 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.
Israeli singer Shiri Maimon, a judge on the show and former reality TV contestant herself, served as Fontanes’ “mentor” throughout the season. The winner’s prizes on the “X Factor” include professional representation and the opportunity to record an album with an Israeli record label.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.