A Filipina carer is the unlikely winner of Israel's first ever season of The X Factor.
The win comes as a surprise for Rose Fostanes, 47, who was one of four finalists and the only foreign contestant on the show.
"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.
She won the popular reality TV singing contest with an emotional rendition of Frank Sinatra's My Way, and sung Alicia Keys' If I Ain't Got You in a duet with her mentor Shiri Maimon.
Comparisons have already been made to between Fostanes and Scottish singer Susan Boyle, who shot to stardom after performing a powerful rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from the musical Les Misérables.
Boyle's giddy rise from unknown to multi-million-selling recording artist has been made into a musical.
At first Fostanes didn't believe that Israelis would vote for her as she was one of a mulitude of faceless foreign workers in the country.
“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 told AP last week.
However she won over audiences around the country with her booming voice, belting out hits by the likes of Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Queen, as well as an inspiring version of Lady Gaga's You and I, which received a standing ovation from both contestants and judges in the top 80 bootcamp.
Fostanes is part of Israel's low-paid underclass of foreign workers, which includes about 20,000 Filipinos, and worked as a caregiver and cleaner for the elderly.
Born in the City of Taguig, Philippines, Fostanes began work as a carer at the age of 23 and worked abroad in the Middle East for 20 years before arriving in Israel six years ago.
"I feel that everybody is looking at me like I was an alien," she said to another contestant on one the early audition episodes of the show. "A Filipina working here, cleaning houses."
To many Israeli the word "Filipinpi" has become synonymous with "caregiver".
However the stereotype is likely to change with Fostanes' remarkable win.
"I think I will be a leader for them because of what I did and I think also they will be proud of me," she told Reuters before the finals. "Everybody in the world will know that Filipinos, even working as a cleaner ... can also share their talents."
- with Reuters
The story Is Israel X Factor winner Rose Fostanes the next Susan Boyle? first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.