On January 16th a filmed report by Joerg Schulze of BBC World News appeared in the ‘Watch/Listen’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page, where it has remained for five days so far. Titled “Filipina carer wins Israeli X Factor“, the report’s synopsis states:
“A Filipina carer, once part of a faceless crowd of foreign workers who tend to Israel’s infirm and elderly, has surprised the country by winning one of its most popular TV singing contests.”
Schulze expands on that theme in his commentary.
“She’s 47 years-old and in her day job she looks after an elderly lady in Tel Aviv. She’s one of about twenty-five thousand carers currently working in Israel. Their work goes widely unnoticed, so this highlight of her adventure in the limelight came as a big surprise.” […]
“She hopes her success will change the stereotype of Filipinos in Israel as domestic workers and carers. And she hopes that finally she’ll be able to fulfill her dream of becoming a professional singer. But that might be difficult, at least in Israel where – on a visa as a carer – she’ll have to apply to the Interior Ministry to allow her to earn money with her music. Until then, she says, she’ll go back to being a care worker.”
Quite how Joerg Schulze established that there exists a “stereotype of Filipinos in Israel as domestic workers and carers” or that they are “faceless” and “their work goes widely unnoticed” is of course unclear to BBC audiences viewing this report. Whether or not their situation is any different – and therefore worthy of comment – from that of foreign workers in any other Western country is also debatable.
Interestingly, the Philippine Ambassador to Israel had a rather different take on 47 year-old Rose Fostanes’ win:
“One thing that came out in this contest is that in Israel you can make it wherever you come from, no matter how old you are,” […] “Rose is 47. It brings to mind Susan Boyle, who was 52 when she showed the world her excellence. Israel is a multicultural country, a country that recognizes talent. Whoever dares to compete and has the talent has the chance to win.”
But the story actually does not end there. Less than a week after Rose Fostanes won the competition, the Ministry of the Interior gave her permission to change the status of her visa and work as a singer.
“X-Factor winner Rose Fostanes has chosen to leave caregiving after being granted a full work permit for artists that will enable her to sing for her livelihood, the Ministry of Interior has confirmed.
The Population Registry head gave Fostanes, a Philippines citizen, two options: to continue nursing the woman for whom she cares for while being allowed to sing for only a limited number of hours, or to forego caregiving for a full work permit given to artists wanting to work in their field.
After consulting with the family that employs her, Fostanes chose the second option.”
Notably, there has as yet been no follow-up by the BBC to inform audiences of this story’s latest chapter.