Long Reads

Guys, Who Is Ivana Alawi, And Why Are We Talking About Her Bathtub

We fall into the rabbit hole of the 23-year-old’s very compelling social media content. 
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/ @ivanaalawi

Previously on Ask Esquire: We made K-pop fans very angry, explained why women scream and shout, and taught ourselves how to soften our super aggressive chest eyes.

Now, more important stuff: As #CoronaTime envelops the world, another phenomenon grips the nation. Many people ask: “Esquire, who is Ivana Alawi and why is she always on my feed?”

Also: “Pssst, Esquire, please explain Ivana Alawi?” And: “Ivana Alawi—why famous?” Plus: “What are the best bathtubs in Metro Manila?” 

We’ll get to that last bit in a sec. For now, let us start this investigation by turning to our most trusted advisor, Google, which delivers many interesting tidbits about Ivana like how women are jealous of her because their husbands or boyfriends are spending too much time staring at her social media posts. See Exhibit No. 1:

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On Instagram, the 23-year-old, whose father is Moroccan and mother Filipina, displays the fullness of her charms—bright eyes on a kitten face, pink pouter and pillowy body, the bloom of youth for everyone to see. Ivana admits that she likes to bare skin but wants you to know there’s more to her than that. 

For more, turn to her YouTube channel, where Ivana lures you in by presenting herself undisguised. Here is Ivana outing herself as a hoarder of cards. This is her painting like a clown. And here she is bantering with her younger sister, Mona, while insisting on walking around her giant house in panties only

Ivana uploaded her first YouTube video in September 2018 and, with just 34 videos, has now gathered 4.6 million subscribers, earning her both silver and gold plaques from the streaming site. When you add that to her 2.8 million followers on Instagram and 980,200 followers on Twitter (we’re not sure what her real Facebook account is), the sum becomes eight million eyeballs glued to every giggle and jiggle, making Ivana a bona fide social media juggernaut.

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And now, she parlays all that attention into a bigger entertainment career. Last month, Ivana inked a contract with media giant ABS-CBN for television, movie, and music projects. “It’s my dream come true…” she says in a report for the network. “And I’m so happy.” Ivana, who was a contestant on Starstruck in 2015 and appeared as a bit player in a handful of shows, will soon lead the series Ang Lihim ni Ligaya as, according to the star, an island girl who is sexy but wholesome.

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In the name of research, we will now watch Ivana spend 24 hours in her bathroom. The video, which has 2.6 million views as of this writing, features the nation’s obsession and sister Mona on lockdown. They’re not allowed to leave their (very spacious) bathroom for a day. Loser will pay P25,000. 

The pair cooks and eats and makes a mess and then sleeps inside an oversized bathtub, the kind with jets. It is revealed that it was 15-year-old Mona who taught her big sister how to do YouTube, and it is also clear how the two just adore each other. They eat junk food. Ivana, who at some point sheds her pink camisole, bathes off-screen and flosses in front of the mirror. Then the greatest plot twist happens: Mona takes a dump. And wins. We begin to understand the appeal.

Our Up Next feed suggests an older video titled A Day In My Life, which we highly recommend as it is her best upload to date (it has almost 17 million views). In the first 30 seconds, Ivana reports that she was reprimanded for not wearing anything and so now the actress wraps herself in an oversized tank top with a dangerously low scoop neck. 

As she goes about making her bed, Ivana reveals the multitudes within her by showing us her bedside reads, The Art of War and the Bible. Let that sink in for a moment. 

Then comes the good part. 

Ivana does her laundry. After she nixes the washer and dryer because she feels machines shrink her clothes, the video cuts to our heroine squatting on a low plastic stool in the backyard. Ivana is now washing her clothes, which have been neatly divided into small pink tubs, by hand. Who is this self-sufficient, do-it-all, down-to-earth woman? 

And so, Ivana is scrubbing and wringing, splashing and bouncing in a sped-up montage. The soft tinkling of the piano is interrupted for a laundry tip: Ivana only scrubs the underarm areas of her T-shirts because, she jokes, her pits smell, but really, it is to minimize fabric distress. We also find out why she prefers to be minimally dressed. “It’s hard to wash clothes, guys,” says Ivana, giggling. 

Photo by YouTube/ Ivana Alawi.

Describing this moment can never express its magic, so please take the time to watch the clip (starts at 2:34). Ivana is just so mesmerizing to watch that, when two Pia Wurtzbachs pop up on the screen, we scream, “Geddoutofhurr, Wurtzbach!” at our poor laptop. The ad, which shills the tuna pies of our second-favorite bee, is one of many in Ivana’s videos. Other advertisers include chocolate, sugar tea, and barbecue chicken. Data analytics company Social Blade estimates her monthly YouTube earnings anywhere from $9K to $144.3K (P456K to P7.3M). 

The video transitions to the kitchen, where Ivana bares more of herself and the dynamics of the Alawi family. She fools around with Mona (there is a funny moment at the 7:37 mark), mentions his brother, who has been DMing fans, and introduces us to her mom, a no-nonsense woman who refuses to be in the vlog and shoots down the crazy antics of her daughters with colorful language. 

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Making us like her even more, Ivana starts cooking. On the menu today is chicken adobo because the family prefers Filipino food, especially when in their big Bahrain house. She does that finger hack to gauge the right amount of water when cooking rice. In her version of the dish, she uses both vinegar and soy sauce, two ladles of the latter because she prefers the dish soupy. She also adds eggs that she boiled in the rice cooker. 

In an interview with Gandang Gabi Vice, Ivana says she, in fact, studied cooking at Global Academy and, when asked why she loves to cook, reveals it is for her future husband. Ivana is single right now. 

The video ends with Ivana holding a chicken leg close to her face to demonstrate its absurdly large size (or her superior small face). Then, with Mona by her side, she eats adobo using her hands, gathering the grains of rice into her fingers, tearing a piece of chicken, and dipping it in sauce, before depositing the perfect bite into parted lips. At one point, she tilts her head and gives us a toothy smile. This is the mukbang we didn’t know we needed in our life. 

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There is many and more Ivana content for addicts to devour (to watch: I Cut My Hair PrankMy House Tour in BahrainHow to Pose Like Ivana), and the one thing that threads all the Instagram posts and YouTube vlogs together is how she has that unknowable quality that makes people want to watch her. 

She is either a dream girl come to life or an aberration that shouldn’t exist, because Ivana has an angel’s face and a potty mouth. She is cute and sexy at once. She’s the Playboy cover star that will lift the veil of celebrity by doing weird stuff like wax the armpit of her mom on camera.  

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Unlike more careful and always perfect idols, Ivana will not keep her devotees at arm’s length but instead, draw them in closer with silly content and full curves. On that big white screen, she is just one click away and, for the tired old man whose days are filled with anger and regret, Ivana Alawi lightens the load. She kisses it better.

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Clifford Olanday
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