By: Lou Maningas Cabalona
Scanning the room as soon as I entered, I looked for a woman I distinctly remember from an audition video that became viral which I saw a couple of years ago. The video captioned, “Pinay Caregiver gets standing ovation on X Factor Israel,” showed a Filipina in her mid- 40s, in jeans and an aqua top wowing the audience with her rendition of Shirley Bassey’s “This Is My Life”.
This is her life now….Before I could take off my coat, the same lady came out of her room to greet me with a big smile, her eyes, somewhat telling of a long day. She flew in that morning; had an all-day recording session; and attended a Meet and Greet at the Philippine Consulate in the late afternoon before enjoying a private dinner with her hosts and other guests.
But it is all in a day’s work for Rose Fostanes, the inaugural winner of X Factor Israel in 2014. “I am very happy. I gained a lot of friends also,” she shares, describing her life now. “Hindi na gaya ng dati, medyo magaan na yung trabaho ko ngayon. Pakanta-kanta na lang” (Unlike before, my work has become lighter. I just sing for work).
Rose was awarded Global Entertainer of the Year at the Gawad Amerika Awards in Los Angeles the week before. Prior to that, she also wrapped filming her first movie in Israel entitled, “It’s Just the Wind” directed by Amity Zmora. “I’m (acting) with the biggest actor in Israel,” she informed us.
The success she is experiencing, however, was far from being served on a silver platter. Rose started singing at six years old. Despite her gift, she struggled to fulfill her dream. “I was a victim of bullying when I was young,” she admitted sharing that while performing, people sometimes would hurl insults at and heckle her about her size and how she looked. This made a huge impact in her life.
“I decided to go abroad and work. And (I) changed my profession (to) a domestic helper (instead of) singing,” she said with a subtly wry laugh. For 22 years, she worked as a Nanny/Caregiver in Egypt, then in Lebanon and then Israel.
Living in Tel Aviv, she found an outlet for her passion, singing with a band at a local Filipino-owned bar during the weekends. Eventually, she earned a reputation among the Filipino community as a good singer. When asked what prompted her to join X Factor, she immediately described it as an unexpected happening; a pleasant “accident.” She explained that she previously auditioned for a different reality TV singing competition two years in a row but, in both instances, she did not get a call back.
So, when her now Manager Netally Schlosser encouraged her to join X Factor, she did not want to try again, saying, “It was not for me.” But Schlosser, a good friend and an event organizer who hired Rose for small shows, was persistent. She picked Rose up from her home and brought her to the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv where the show held auditions.
Schlosser was convinced the Filipina singer who she described as “unforgettable, irreplaceable, unique” was sure to win the contest. “(She) amazed everybody including her (Israeli) voters and, ” Schlosser added “she had a lot (of Israeli fans)”. She explained that Rose’s win was a notable feat for a non-Israeli, capturing the hearts of a mainly Israeli audience.
Although far away, she also had her family in the Philippines. Thanks to the show’s producers, Reshet Television, her sister, Nancy, and long-time partner, Mel Adel, were flown in time for the finals to support and cheer her on.
As part of her US visit, Rose, along with her Manager, made a quick overnight stop in Chicago on the way back to Tel Aviv at the request of Philippine Consul General Gene Calonge who was Ambassador to Israel during Rose’s journey to winning X Factor Israel.
He watched the semi-finals and the finals in person, distributing Philippine flags. According to Consul General Calonge, “Rose had the support of not only Filipinos but also of all Israelis watching the show.” Describing how Filipinos in Israel felt about her win, he says, “It was not merely pride, it was near euphoria.”
Rose Fostanes’ story of triumph has gained her the nickname “Cinderella.” But she recognizes that life will not simply be a “happily ever afte,r” after she became the biggest Filipina Celebrity in Israel.
She mentioned experiencing up and downs since winning the contest last January 2014 which clearly alludes to the fact that her label Aroma Music ended her contract a year early for their inability to pay a monthly salary required by her Artist Visa, among other issues.
But she keeps hopeful as more opportunities are coming up. Her quick visit already earned her a proposal for a Concert in Chicago this 2016. She lives by the same belief and advice she gives to all singers who want to pursue their dream. “Really, there is no(thing) impossible to God, if you pray. Work Hard. Not every time, you will succeed so don’t give up. Whatever happens, JUST KEEP ON GOING.”
You can find out more information about her upcoming shows, movies, news and updates at www.RoseFostanes.com or www.facebook.com/RoseOsangOff icial.
Posting a few pictures of the hugely successful “A Night to Remember” Concert with Jam Morales and Gabby Concepcion. Watch out for my fun interview with the two celebrities in the next issue of Via Times News Magazine.
Louella Maningas Cabalona is a singer, actor, and a Manager at Sears Holdings Corporation. She is the co-founder of the Filipino Folk band, SamaSama Project, ILPRO (Illinois Philippines Recovery Operations) and is one of the 10 inaugural delegates of the FYLPro Immersion program of the Philippine Embassy in DC in 2012. She is passionate about sharing Filipino culture in the modern world and actively supports all outstanding Filipinos around the world. She is currently pondering on a “Pinoy” business startup while planning the 2016 medical missions to the Philippines with her husband, Baron. If any of these adventures sound interesting to you, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Louella with Rose Fostanes, Filipina Caregiver who won X Factor Israel 2014 during her visit in Chicago
Rose Fostanes (center) singing My Way after she was announced as the inaugural winner of the X Factor in Israel. To her left is sister Nancy and her right is then Ambassador to Israel, Consul General Gene Calonge. They are surrounded by the judges and fellow contestants celebrating (Photo Credits: Tal Givony, Israel21c.org.
Clockwise from top row: Consul General Gene Calonge, Louella Cabalona, Dr. Cleo Casambre who hosted their stay, Manager Netally Schlosser and Rose Fostanes.
(1) Louella aka Lou EllaRose singing “Init Sa Magdamag” with 80’s Philippine heartthrob Gabby Concepcion
(2) Chillin’ by the bar after our performance, (from L-R) Singers Lou EllaRose and Jam Morales with CPRTV Host, Melody Dizon, and Chicago native Alice Arellano who also happens to be Gabby Concepcion’s much younger aunt.