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No Dirty Laundry: Ivana Alawi Has Nothing to Hide and Here's Why

What you see is what you get when it comes to the actress and YouTube sensation who has managed to arrest the attention of millions in just a matter of months.

by Jamina F. Nitura | Oct 9, 2020

“Why do I have to listen to other people when I know myself, and I’m happy, and I’m not hurting anyone, and I’m not doing anything wrong?”

Ivana Alawi is bewitched, perhaps beholden to a mystical moon goddess’ gifts or an enkangto’s entrancing magic. Sure, the notion sounds all smoke and mirrors, but in what other way can we explain the almost national obsession, the surge in millions of views and followers, the exponential Ivana Alawi effect that’s got the internet on all fours scrambling for more?

At first glance it should make sense, and the gaggle of articles online waxing poetic—some with an absurd lack of finesse—over her doe eyes, puff-kissed lips, and bodacious hourglass figure have tried to make it abundantly clear. But to say that Ivana’s fame comes solely from her image as an unapologetic sensual siren would be an insult to her impeccable comedic timing, her relatable side-street twang, her good-natured, at times self-deprecating humor that makes you forget, at least for 15 minutes, that she’s a bonafide YouTube star with close to six million Instagram followersand not just the loud and proud girl next door. 

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If you’ve watched at least two of her random YouTube vlogs, then you’ll know exactly what I mean.


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Ivana Alawi for Preview.ph September 2020

Then again, Ivana’s not the only local vlogger on the platform who’s perfected the aforementioned intoxicating formula. And yet anyone worth mentioning right now would still pale in comparison to her 9.3 million subscribers, which she garnered, by the way, in just over a year. Not to mention that her most viewed video, titled A Day in My Life, contains exactly as advertised: just the 23-year-old turning over her sheets, washing her laundry, and cooking in the kitchen with her family. 

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Mundane as that all sounds, her daily routine vlog has been watched a total of over 23 million times. Imagine raking in views double the population of Metro Manila thanks to millions of people eagerly watching in rapt attention as one singular woman rubs and scrubs on her soiled clothes to the tune of royalty-free music in the background. Just absolute, incomprehensible madness. 

To say that Ivana’s fame comes solely from her image as an unapologetic sensual siren would be an insult to her impeccable comedic timing, her relatable side-street twang, her good-natured, at times self-deprecating humor that makes you forget, at least for 15 minutes, that she’s a bonafide YouTube star.

Ivana herself is equally as dumbfounded as we are. “Ewan ko, di ko alam kung ano meron,” she said, sounding half-enthused and half-exasperated over the phone.

With all that said, where exactly can one start to interrogate and understand the social media phenomenon that is Ivana Alawi, and all the facets hidden beneath her beauty? 

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The Struggling Actress

How about we scale it down and start at the beginning? 

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Before the fruition of Ivana Alawi, heiress, sexy star, and internet giant, was Mariam Al-Alawi, a mere wide-eyed hopeful in a sea of thousands, hungry for her acting dreams to take flight. It’s true, the Moroccan Filipino star was not an overnight YouTube sensation. 

Ivana had to claw her way to the doors of success, and the earliest, note-worthy glimmer of such was a spot on GMA 7’s reality search show Starstruck back in 2015. Long story short, 18-year-old Mariam Al-Alawi climbed up to the Top 28 Dreamers of the sixth season before facing the chopping block. 

Despite failing to advance any further, Ivana gained a one-year contract with the network. Unfortunately, her gigs were limited to small roles, enough to throw her a bone, but never a full-course meal that netizens could rave over. 


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After years of failing to make a mark in the industry, the actress called it quits once her ink with GMA had expired, and she opted to pursue a different career altogether. Enter Ivana’s mom Fatima Al-Alawi, who, in spite of her daughter’s protests, was hell-bent on keeping her show biz dreams alive.

Ako talaga I stopped na. Nag-study na talaga ako. Pero yung nanay ko parang sabi niya ‘One more time, one more time.’ Pinipilit niya tapos sinend niya yung photo ko sa maraming [talent agents],” Ivana explained. One such photo landed on the lap of her current manager Perry Lansigan, who coincidentally at that time, was on the prowl for the newest sexy star to build up.

“At that moment I said that I was confident. I wanted to be myself and ayokong magpa-sweet kasi hindi naman talaga ako yung super pa-sweet. Sabi ko ‘If I go back and if I give it one more shot then I want to do it the way I feel like doing it.’ Parang who I really am. Sabi ko ‘I’m not gonna be young and sexy forever.’ So ayun, I said I have to give it a shot,” recounted the celeb who's now household screen name was thought up by her manager—and the rest, as they say, is history.

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That said, show business isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, especially not for a daringly bold, devil-may-care female who isn’t afraid to flaunt her best assets. After all, when you’re dubbed “The Nation’s Fantasy,” reality may prove to be harsher beyond the velvet curtain. And yes, we’re talking about the indecent comments on her Instagram posts, the equally opposed conservatives baffled by her continuous skin show, and the unsolicited proposals unashamedly sliding into the actress’ DMs. 

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For her part, Ivana chooses to take it all in stride. “I don’t really respond to bashers. I don’t read the bad comments. I don’t give it any time or energy kasi it’s not worth it,” she told Preview. “Why do I have to listen to other people when I know myself, and I’m happy, and I’m not hurting anyone, and I’m not doing anything wrong?” 

I wanted to be myself and ayokong magpa-sweet kasi hindi naman talaga ako yung super pa-sweet. Sabi ko ‘If I go back and if I give it one more shot then I want to do it the way I feel like doing it.’ Parang who I really am. Sabi ko ‘I’m not gonna be young and sexy forever.’ 

As for the swarm of men camping in her inbox? “For the indecent proposals talagang binabasag ko. I’ve been getting so many, as in direct talaga. Yung iba nagpapanggap na work, yung iba [sinasabi na] ‘I’ll give you a house and lot’…sabi ko ‘I can buy my own house.’” In summary, four words: Pack. It. Up. Boys.

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The YouTube Sensation 

It was Ivana’s younger sister Mona who pushed her to do YouTube at a time when she was in firm belief that the platform just wasn’t for her. “Bata pa ‘ko dati, Englishera pa ‘ko. Sinubukan ko pero hindi siya bagay sa ‘kin. Sabi ko ‘Move on, YouTube isn’t for me,’” she said. 

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Tapos 2019, sabi ng kapatid ko ‘Ate, try mo na. Mag vlog ka na.’ Sabi ko, ‘Bakit? Wala naman ako mava-vlog, makulit lang naman ako, wala silang matututunan sa 'kin na lesson.’” But as fate, and an adorably persistent little sibling would have it, Ivana found herself on YouTube once again, uploading her first video. She didn’t know at the time that the channel would soon grow into her own personal empire.


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Her ideas come to her in whims. Whether it’s a spicy food challenge, eating blue food for 24 hours, swapping clothes with her brother, pulling a prank on her mom, or yet again pulling a prank on her poor, poor motherthey’re all products of Ivana’s mischievous and whimsically wired brain. 

Unlike what some may think, her now famous paglalaba video came about on a totally random morning, borne out of a banal, innocent thought. Ivana explained, “I looked out the window and sabi ko gusto kong maglaba. Ang ganda kasi ng araw so pag sinampay ko siya ng ganitong oras matutuyo agad siya. Tapos nagulat ako nag-viral. 


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If it wasn’t obvious yet, Ivana treats the platform as a no holds barred, early 2000s slam book of sorts. If you want to meet the beauty behind the swimsuit photos on Instagram, just take a few clicks into YouTube where she lays out the truth of her personality on her vlogs for all to see. Case in point: When she’s not recounting her uphill climb in the entertainment industry, she’s cheekily musing about having owned fake IDs as a wild child at 17 in order to get into clubs. “Nalalabas ko na lahat. Kung ano nakikita niyo sa YouTube, yun na yun,” the actress revealed. 

The Family Woman

If Ivana made one thing clear during our conversation, it’s that her family always comes first. The drive to constantly plan for her and her kin’s future had been ingrained ever since she was young, so much so that her late father used to call her “mom.” 

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Parang ako yung mommy nilang lahat, parang ang dami ko nang anak. Ever since I was young, super mature na ako mag-isip. I always think about the future,” Ivana told Preview. “Mindset ko na siya even when I was a kid, and it’s still my mindset na alagaan family ko. They’re my number one priority.” 

It’s not at all a surprising fact when her YouTube account has practically turned into a joint channel with her mom, her sister Mona, and her brother Hash. 


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Parang ako yung mommy nilang lahat, parang ang dami ko nang anak. Ever since I was young, super mature na ako mag-isip. I always think about the future.

In more recent news, the 23-year-old recently went viral after buying her younger brother his own plot of land to use for his future home, inciting a shower of tears and melting the hardest of hearts. “I’m trying to prepare my family for their future,” she said in the accompanying vlog. While some may be inclined to assume that the gift was her way of sharing the wealth her father had endowed to her—she did inherit an entire mansion, after all—that’s simply not the case. Instead, Ivana revealed that she purchased the plot with her own hard-earned money. 

“When I bought him the land I didn’t expect it to blow up, na magiging something na maraming maiiyak and mata-touch. It came from my heart. Yung mana ng tatay namin ayokong ipagalaw sa kanila [sa mga kapatid ko]. I purchased [the land] with the money I earned from my endorsements and commercials. At least masaya ako sa mga ginastos ko from my work.” 

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When it comes to Ivana, at the end of the day, and cliché as it may sound, all roads lead to home—preferably in one subdivision where she can still rattle and prattle away at her younger siblings from the house next door, in the far future.


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The Verdict 

Looking back at the fine print, it seems Ivana’s claim to fame was inevitable from the start when she clearly has all the makings of a social media darling. She’s your humble, family-oriented, self-proclaimed loka-loka, YouTube personality—albeit gifted with a glorious, knock-out physique—whose rivers and mountains of confidence and self-love work to empower millions of women on the other side of the screen. But here’s the secret: She absolutely doesn’t mean to be. 

May mga babae na nagme-message na parang na-appreciate nila 'yung women empowerment. Nakakatuwa lang na I am just being myself and nagugustuhan ng tao, which makes me very happy. But I don’t see myself as ‘Uy gayahin niyo ako guys.’ Hindi ako ganun eh,” she said during the second episode of Angelica Panganiban’s Ask Angelica on YouTube.


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I didn’t get to meet Ivana in person. For obvious pandemic-related reasons, our interaction was limited to a phone call on a scorching hot Thursday afternoon, and yet she put a cork on all my expectations. That is to say I dialed in with a set goal in mind: to uncover the personality beyond the screen, maybe reveal her yet unseen traits, untainted and unheard of. That looks to me now a tall and naïve order.

As it turns out, the actress is devoid of secrets to disclose, not when she so gamely lays everything out in the open. At the end of the day, there are no layers to peel back, no hidden intent to interrogate, no magic to the mystery, nor great phenomenon to explain. The young, no-nonsense 23-year-old vlogger is unbridled and free of pretense, a rare gem in the highly performative vortex that is social media. In two words, she’s Simply Ivana and that, in itself, is enough to captivate an entire nation.

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Photographed by BJ Pascual

Styled by Adrianne Concepcion

Makeup by Anthea Bueno

Hair by Mark Familara

Production Design by Princess Barretto

Lighting Direction by Jhess Pabalate

Videography and Editing by Kim Wee Ebol and Dolly Hernandez

Stylist's Assistant Dodley Gallardo

Words by Jam Nitura

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