Under the shadow of a looming deportation order, Filipino guest workers in Israel staged the 2009 Miss Twinkle Star beauty pageant in Tel Aviv.
Francesca Fueros ascends the stage during the swimsuit section of the beauty pageant. The director of the event stands on the sidelines, urging her on with shouts of "be sexy."
Fueros, 5.5 years old, stops in front of the microphone and introduces herself to the judges in fluent Hebrew.
So goes candidate number four in the 2009 Miss Twinkle Star beauty and folklore competition, which stars the children of Filipino workers in Israel.
Last Saturday night, members of the Filipino community gathered at the Barbur Center in Tel Aviv for the beauty and talent competition, which has become a tradition.
The competition’s declared goal is "a statement of thanks to the State of Israel," according to its organizers. But it is also a serious attempt to make an outward show, and perhaps to convince themselves, that life will go on as usual for these children, whose lives may drastically change in November.
That is when the Interior Ministry’s Oz Unit is slated to begin deporting illegal migrant workers, even if they have families here.
"It’s important to us to show the decision makers that we have something to offer and to contribute to the country," said the mistress of ceremonies, Hermina Ocampo. "I hope that they will recognize our many talents, and that it will touch their hearts, and they will understand that all of us here are Israeli."