A Filipina carer has won the televised talent show shooting to fame with her winning rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way".
Rose Fostanes, the only foreign contestant on X-Factor Israel, won the competition late on Tuesday night, delighting both Israeli and Philippine audiences.
Fostanes's powerful, soulful singing voice quickly made her an audience favourite from her first audition for the show, which was hosted by four celebrity judges and filmed in studios in the coastal city of Tel Aviv.
Local television, news websites, social media and even the president lavished praise on the unmarried, openly gay 47-year-old, who has worked abroad for more than two decades - including six years in Israel - to support her family.
Fostanes, a carer for the sick and elderly, lives in a crowded apartment in an area inhabited mostly by foreign workers in Tel Aviv and is saving money to support her family and girlfriend back home.
"We know the situation she was in and we are very proud that she has again given the Philippines pride in the showcase of her talent," President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday.
"The Filipino has an innate advantage when it comes to the arts. ... It clearly shows that the excellence of the Filipino can be expressed anywhere, everywhere, when they are given the opportunity to show their talent."
However, her runaway success is unlikely to improve her earning prospects in Israel, with officials saying she would not be allowed to put her talent to professional use.
"She can only work as a carer, according to the law," a spokeswoman for Israel's population and immigration authority said.
"Of course she can sing - anyone can do that - but not as a professional," it said
Fostanes had fretted whether the Israeli audience would tire of her plain looks and vote her out in favour of younger, slimmer rivals.
But the fans were won over.
In a live performance watched on television by many of her impoverished countrymen before dawn yesterday, Fostanes' won the judges' nod.
Her ecstatic younger sister, Rose, told Manila television network ABS-CBN: "This is my sister's life dream turning into reality. Who would have thought it would happen abroad?"
Israel's media said her victory had put the spotlight on the country's many low-paid migrant workers, among them tens of thousands of Filipinos, who work as carers or in menial jobs.
Last month, Israel's parliament approved a law that allows illegal immigrants to be detained for up to a year without trial, the latest move aimed at cracking down on immigration.