Filipina caregiver wins Israel's X-Factor song contest

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[January 15, 2014]  JERUSALEM (Reuters) A Filipina caregiver, once part of a faceless crowd of foreign workers who tend to Israel's infirm and elderly, has won one of the country's most popular TV singing contests.

Competing in Israel's version of the X-Factor, Rose Fostanes, 47, swept the judges off their feet with a winning rendition of the Frank Sinatra standard, "My Way", in Tuesday's final.

Fostanes, who came to Israel four years ago, has been working for about 20 years across the Middle East, and currently cares for an ailing woman in Tel Aviv.

"I'm speechless, I cannot say anything now. I can't believe that (this has) happened to me," Fostanes said in English after her victory.

In the run-up to the final, Fostanes said she hoped her popularity on the show would shine a spotlight on Israel's low-paid foreign workers, who include about 20,000 Filipinos.

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

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 wanted Rose to win. She's amazing. I really want her life to change. She's a great singer," said Shiri Maimon, an Israeli singer who was one of the judges.

(Writing by Ori Lewis, editing by Jeffrey Heller)

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