X Factor Israel winner Rose Fostanes astounded to learn how the Phils saved Jews during Holocaust

X Factor Israel winner Rose Fostanes returned to Manila to perform for the Thank You, Philippines Friendship Concert held on February 26 at the Music Museum.


Rose Fontanes, the Filipina winner of X Factor Israel, is back in the Philippines for a short work trip.


The former caregiver arrived last February 23 and performed as the main guest of Thank You, Philippines Friendship Concert held last night at the Music Museum. The concert was part of the Philippine International Jazz and Arts Festival.

Rose talked to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other members of the press on Wednesday at the residence of Israeli Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau.

“Puro trabaho for seven days, hindi na nga ako makakauwi sa bahay ko,” Rose told us about her short visit.

These days, Rose’s schedule is filled with rehearsals, gigs, and recordings. Since receiving a special foreign expert visa after winning on the televised talent search, she has stopped working as a caregiver and is now a full-time singer. While Rose remains humble with her achievements, she said some things have changed since winning X Factor.

“Parang mas lalong mahirap yata,” she laughed. “Kasi mayro’n kang mga dating ginagawa na ngayon hindi mo na pwedeng gawin. Kailangan may limit na yon. Gaya no’n, madali akong magalit no’n. Ngayon hindi na, kailangan lagi kang behaved. Tapos kumbaga sa ano, nawalan ako ng privacy. Kaya minsan imbis na lalabas ako ng umaga, napapalitan, nagiging gabi. Pwede naman ng umaga kaso 'yong makukuha mo ba ng ten minutes lang yong pupuntahan mo, inaabot ka ng thirty minutes. Dahil pag may nagsimula ng magpa-picture, ayan na. Dire-diretso na. Masaya naman!”

She has released a single in Israel called “Walk Away,” and she’s now working on an album with her record label. There are also plans of recording songs in Hebrew.


“Ang Israeli kasi, karamihan sa kanila gusto nila Hebrew. Pero meron naman din na ang gusto nila, English. So ang gusto nilang mangyari sa Israel, magkaron ako ng Hebrew na kanta. Pero may accent kasi ako kaya hindi ko makuha. Sasabihin nila, ‘Ang ganda-ganda ng pagkakakanta mo. Halos maiyak na kami.’ Tapos biglang merong words na iba ang pandinig namin. Imbis na ang ibig sabihin no’n e damdamin, magiging ang dinig ko don sa word, elepante ang ibig sabihin!’ Kaya imbis na maiiyak, matatawa sila.”

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The 48-year-old singer said when she returns to Israel, she plans to study Ulpan, an intensive language program where one learns how to read and write in Hebrew.

ROAD TO X FACTOR. Rose recalled her beginnings as an Overseas Filipino Worker. She was only 23 years old when she left the Philippines to work in Egypt and then Lebanon. In 2007, she went to Israel to work as a caregiver. During her days off, she met with other caregivers and formed a band. They worked part-time at a small bar in Tel Aviv.

How did she find time to rehearse her song numbers while working as a caregiver?

“Wala ng praktisan. Basta sinasabi na lang kung anong kailangan kantahin, iyu-Youtube na lang. So kailangan aralin ko. So pagdating na on stage, hindi naman professional mga kasama ko, merong nasa key of A yong isa nasa C. So pag pinag-mix mo yon, hindi mo alam anong kakantahin mo.

"Pero do’n siguro ako napractice. Pero okay lang, nahasa naman ng nahasa. Four years na akong kumakanta sa banda. Maganda naman ang kinalabasan bandang huli.”

She also revealed that X Factor wasn’t the first singing contest in Israel she joined. “Merong isang singing contest din doin, The Star is Born, nag-join ako do’n pero tinapat naman nila ako na para sa mga Israeli lang 'yon. So tinanggap ko 'yon. Then the next year tinawagan nila ako akala ko pwede na, nag-audition uli ako. Wala silang ibang sinabi pero hindi ako tinawagan so it means, hindi ako natanggap sa audition. 'Yon na, nawalan ako ng pag-asa. Sabi ko hanggang banda-banda na lang ako, hanggang caregiver na lang.”

But Rose had a friend who convinced her to try again. “Yong friend ko na talagang naniniwala, dahil maraming Israeli talagang naniniwala sa’kin, e. Magaling daw ako. Siguro pag mga lasing na sila!


"So tinry niya na isama ako sa audition ng X Factor. Nagpunta ako do’n, groggy-groggy pa nga dahil wala akong tulog, e. So hindi ako marunong magbasa ng Hebrew, hindi rin ako marunong magsulat [ng Hebrew], may application do’n. Siya ngayon yong nagsusulat no’n. At siya 'yong nage-explain sa’kin kung ano 'yon. So 'yon, nagsimula nung una, hindi ko naman akalain na makakarating ng dalawang audition, tatlo, hanggang lumabas na ako sa stage.”

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Rose went on to win the reality singing competition, giving powerful renditions to different songs, from her audition piece, Shirley Bassey’s “This is My Life” to her winning song, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

PHILIPPINE-ISRAEL FRIENDSHIP. Now, Rose gets to perform in Israel and represent her country. That is why the Filipina singer didn’t pass up the chance to go back home and perform for her kababayans in celebration of the historical friendship between Israel and the Philippines.


In the late 1930s, the country played an important role in rescuing 1,300 Jewish people from the Holocaust, when then President Manuel L. Quezon agreed to issue immigrant visas to European Jews.

Ambassador Matityau says about their decision to invite Rose to perform for the occasion: “I think that the story of Rose is very much in line with this particular story of Israel and the Philippines.


“And I think that your story is an amazing story. The way that you came up to the end of it, to the victory, was an amazing journey.”

For her part, Rose said she feels honored to be part of the friendship between the two countries. “I’m so happy that our Ambassador gave me the opportunity to sing sa concert na pasasalamat para sa mga Pilipino,” she said.


According to the caregiver-turned-singer, she takes pride in the fact that she is able to raise awareness about the fact that the Philippine government helped save Jews during World War II.


“Actually nalaman ko 'yong kwento about the Holocaust victims and the refugees after I won the X Factor Israel. So natuwa naman ako kasi when I went to the Philippine Embassy in Israel, pinakita sa akin ni Ambassador Calonge lahat ng pictures na naka-hang sa wall. Na-touch din ako, kasi hindi lahat ng Israeli alam 'yon. Na ganun ang naging kwento, na sa dinami-dami ng mga refugee na naglalayag, walang ibang tumanggap na bansa kundi tayo lang mga Pilipino. Kaya natuwa ako no’n, kaya gano’n din nila kamahal 'yong mga Pilipino.

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“So everytime na magi-guest ako na kasama ko yong mga big artists do’n sa concerts nila, ang ganda ng pagtanggap nila saka kung paano nila ako ipakilala.


"Ang sabi pa nila, ‘Hindi lang natin dapat mahalin si Rose dahil magaling siyang kumanta, at hindi lang dapat na binoto natin siya, kundi dapat nating mahalin siya.’ Dahil nga do’n sa kwento na nalaman din nila. Kaya lahat ng tao pag nakita mo nagpapalakpakan talaga sila. Saka tingnan mo dumarami na rin 'yong mga Israeli dito. Halos gusto nga nila dito na sila tumira.”


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