The story of Rose Fostanes is one of the most amazing Cinderella stories on Israeli TV. The 47 year old caregiver from the Philippines with an amazing voice and a difficult life story swept the whole nation and became a celebrity.
It’s been six years since Rose has been living in Israel. She works as a nursing caregiver for the elderly. Before that she worked 4 years in Egypt and 10 years in Lebanon. Rose lives in very tough conditions in the south of Tel Aviv, in a one-room apartment, together with 5 other Filipino nurses, trying to save money as much as she can to send home to her family. “I dream of supporting my brother and sister in the Philippines,” she told Time Out Tel Aviv at the beginning of the season. “Our parents died and I’m the oldest. I hope to find an easier job and maybe participation in the X Factor will help get us out of the financial crisis we’ve been in for years.”
Watch Rose’s audition
A couple of weeks ago Rose added another component to her extraordinary life story: she came out as a lesbian in an interview with Israel Today. In the interview she told her story of struggling for money, until eventually she had to move to Israel to work as a nurse. Since then she maintains a transatlantic relationship with her partner Mel, a manager in a music store.
Despite the distance, she says, they both still dream of a life together. “We have the same dreams, we share property and a bank account,” she said in the interview. “She is my soulmate.”
By now, Rose has been dubbed the “Israeli Suzan Boyle,” turning into a very famous reality TV personality, as part of the team of judge Shiri Maimon on X Factor Israel. She has to wear sunglasses everytime she goes out on the street and tries to get used to the newfound fame. “I was never accepted to any kind of a talent show before, even in the Philippines,” she says, “I think it was because of how I look, because I’m fat and not beautiful.”
Fostanes, who’ll be going on stage tonight in the finale of X Factor, had an emotional day yesterday, when the production of the show reunited her with her partner Mel and her sister Nancy whom she hasn’t seen for years.
Mel (53), Rose’s partner for the last 30 years, and Nancy (43) have never been to Israel, since their financial situation has never allowed it. It is Rose, actually, who provides for them, working as a nanny in Israel- at least up until she became famous during the show- and maybe tonight she’ll switch from a nanny to a singing superstar.
The production of the X Factor Israel has brought the two into the rehearsal venue of the show, which was a complete surprise for Rose. “This is such a big surprise,” said Rose, who celebrated her 47th birthday last week. “Even if I don’t win, at least my family is with me. Not everyone from the Philippines can come to Israel. Knowing that Mel and Nancy are here will give me so much power and energy to perform better and maybe even win.”