The Wallflower

Deviance and Perversions: The Dark Side of Filipino Wattpad Novels

While Wattpad has provided a platform for beginning writers, many Filipino authors have exploited it and have made it their playground for perversions and sexual fantasies.

Wattpad is an international reading platform that makes use of user-generated content. Its aim is to create social communities that revolve around online stories. These stories are penned by a wide variety of writers of all skill levels. Wattpad provides the platform for beginner authors to showcase their writings without going through the traditional method of getting published. Wattpad does not filter content or require authors to edit their works, either.

The local Wattpad community produced the first online novel that was adapted into a movie. This work was called “Diary ng Panget” by author HaveYouSeenThisGirl. It became an Internet sensation by amassing 12 million reads. Due to its popularity, it eventually picked up the attention of PSICOM Publishing Inc. PSICOM turned the online novel into a print book. This triggered a rush of other authors who wanted to get similar deals from mainstream publishers.

Toxicity and Wattpad’s online community

Wattpad is not only a user-generated writing platform but also an SNS (social network service). Readers can follow, share, like, and support their favorite authors. Eventually, ‘fandoms’ or groups of hardcore supporters emerged in the years following Diary ng Panget. Although fandoms offer a sense of belongingness to people with the same interests, it also produced a negative impact on readers.

According to William Proctor and Bridget Kies in “On toxic fan practices and the new culture wars,” toxic fans develop because the Internet has become a battleground in which new culture wars are being fought, that when something new is presented to them they will react with hostility or they would accept it.

[W]hen a fan does not win against an argument over their popular culture, they would likely feel a sense of disempowerment at the loss of privileged status, therefore, turning to social media allowing them to attempt to overcome it by tweeting, blogging, doxing and creating niche movements with other disempowered fans.

—Kayla Nicole Togonon

They have explained that when a fan does not win against an argument over their popular culture, they would likely feel a sense of disempowerment at the loss of privileged status, therefore, turning to social media allowing them to attempt to overcome it by tweeting, blogging, doxing and creating niche movements with other disempowered fans.

“Toxic behaviors are often the result of hegemonic elites feeling as though they are marginalized or in the minority.” (Proctor and Kies, 2018)

A typical example of this behavior is when rabid fans lynch readers who point out questionable themes and elements in pieces of writing by their favorite authors.

When new literature goes unchecked

While Wattpad has provided a platform for beginning writers, many Filipino authors have exploited it and have made it their playground for perversions and sexual fantasies. The deviant behavior and psychology of authors have become the norm, prompting readers to normalize questionable themes that can easily roll over to practice.

Should Filipino Wattpad authors be allowed to romanticize, fetishize, and valorize sensitive themes such as rape, pedophilia, incest, and abusive relationships?

—Kayla Nicole Togonon

Should Filipino Wattpad authors be allowed to romanticize, fetishize, and valorize sensitive themes such as rape, pedophilia, incest, and abusive relationships?

A small number of Wattpad readers regularly condemn these themes, and they receive hate by fans in return. The cult-like status of some Wattpad authors has prompted online dummy accounts to lynch critical readers of Wattpad works.

In one instance, a Wattpad novel normalized pedophilia by illustrating that the underage characters were “in love.” The novel in question also featured sexual coercion, grooming, and exploitation.

In Jonaxx’s “Until Trilogy,” Elijah and Klare began as cousins and ended up as lovers after justifying that the relationship can go on because Klare was adopted. While this may not seem all that disturbing, it does suggest that first cousin relationships are fine. Such deviances are problematic in the Philippine context and require more nuanced views. Normalizing incestuous relationships without providing readers the benefit of a closer look at the cultural taboos surrounding first cousin relationships are irresponsible and indicative of the author’s lack of foregrounding and knowledge of the very subjects she’s tackling. Jonaxx’s Costa Leona series implied that the girls were 11–17 years old while their respective partners were 18–23 years old. This gap in the age suggests that these works are also normalizing sexual grooming.

In Cecelib’s “Possessive” series, male characters tend to have abusive and possessive tendencies towards their female counterparts. These works also fetishize abuse. Abuse causes deaths of women and children and should not be taken lightly in the real world. Obsession and excessive jealousy is already an indication of abuse. Abuse is not ‘love-‘ it is abuse, full stop.

In JFStories“Indecent Proposal,” the text romanticized abuse and abduction. In the story, the male character is made to look as if he regrets each time he abuses the female character. The same author also wrote the story “Obey Him,” in the story a stepfather engages in sexual activities with his stepdaughter. The text justifies pedophilia by featuring the ‘love’ between the characters.

What must be done?

We cannot deny that some Filipino writers have capitalized on the demand for romance and sexually-charged literature. However, Wattpad barely filters readers and many of the readers are minors.

These works often go unchecked because the authors barely guide their readers. They do not provide guiding statements even if they can, online. This is a highly irresponsible behavior that must be changed.

They do not provide guiding statements even if they can, online. This is a highly irresponsible behavior that must be changed.

—Kayla Nicole Togonon

Sensitive themes should be handled properly and should not be justified by trying to present the story as romance. Many successful novels did not have to use cheap plot twists and deviant themes. It is important to note that stories, even fictional ones can leave a mark on its readers; therefore, when we write, we should be grounded on ideologies that will liberate them and make them critical thinkers of their generation.


Kayla Nicole Togonon is a writer, campus journalist, bookworm, and an entrepreneur. She is the current editor-in-chief of Vox Populi PH, a local platform for aspiring young writers and critics. Kayla enjoys spending her time critiquing and cooking. Her column, The Wallflower, will tackle opinions and criticisms about pop literature and culture. Catch up with Kayla via Minds and MeWe.

10 comments

  1. Unpopular opinion ahead, proceed reading if you ‘think’ you’re mature enough:

    I was also a huge fan of Ate Jonah (Jonaxx) back in high school. However, as I explored other literatures and gain awareness in regards to certain themes and their sensitivity, I’ve became aware of the absurdity of the main characters’ ages as well as the romance of some of her series. Honestly, as a reader, if one analyzed more than what was shown, it can be observed that a lot of her characters were flat, especially the male leads and antagonist step/half sisters. Furthermore, particularly in Costa Leona Series, the repeated use of seperated-by-years plot device made me say “okay, this is bittersweet but I think it’s time to stop.” But, but, but! What’s awesome about her stories was the great execution of events and romance, no matter how absurd it started.
    (Trivia: Do you know why first/second MLs can suddenly, magically fall in love with the FL regardless of her shitty circumstances/personality? It’s because of the thing called “Protagonist’s Halo” where the author can make illogical situations seem normal just to protect/shower love to the FL— that’s also the reason why most protagonists can’t die in stories.)

    Regarding JFStories, she’s my favourite horror author. Unfortunately, the erotic stories she wrote, despite the comedic undertone, contain abuse, abduction,

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    1. and other sensitive topics.

      I haven’t read Possessive Series and have no plans reading it but vased on the violent reaction of the fans to the critiques, this series seem to contain rape and cases of Stockholm Syndrome— which is both pitiful and “eye-rolling.”

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  2. Hu ate fan po ako ni ate Jonnaxx, specialt ate JF I just wanna say na hindi lang naman po sila yung gumagawa ng ganiyang story hindi ba? Saying na hindi nafiflter yung user kasi nga kahitnhii 18 pwede kang makabasa ng ganun story which is sex related chuchu. Share ko lang po personal experience, when I was 12 or 13, bumili ako ng book sa national bookstore, without readung the other information sa book. So pag kauwi ko binasa ko yung book without knowing na meron palang bed scene, tapis late ko pang napansin sa book cover niya na ayun nga R18 yung book. So ang point ko is yung kung sa Wattpad walang age restrictions sa paggawa ng sensitive topics ganun din sa pagbili ng book sa national vbookstore, makakabili ka ng book na r18 kahut hindi ka pa 18. I mean I see no difference.

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  3. Nice commentary! Thank you for this. I really agree that sensitive themes should be delivered properly in a story to avoid misrepresentation of romance. At first I was quite hesitant to read this since one of my favorite local authors has been mentioned in this article. I feel scared as to what would be my next impression to the author after I read this haha.

    As I have read the entire Until Trilogy and is a fan of Costa Leona Series, I admit that there are themes such as the first-cousin relationship (this is in UT, but hey, at the end of the first book, it was revealed that they aren’t really cousins. Also, the other characters condemn their relationship, has been called out, but at the end, their love conquered, and it is not only for days or months, it was years before they really got okay) that has been put in the plot. I will also add the somehow wide age gap between the couples (in CLS), but it is not only about it, it also makes the readers see the building of the love story between the characters. On the other hand, as I am now aware of such sensitive issues such as sexual grooming, I sadly notice it in some parts of the series, but just like in the trilogy mentioned earlier, it is also not tolerated by some characters in the story. Also, I could see that the writer tries to successfully tackle these, but sadly this is still not enough as we can see the reflection of it to the other readers.

    While some readers notice the problematic part of the plot, some don’t find it like that and sees the plot as ‘nakakakilig’ because there is a challenge to break mores of the society and they continue to support that part instead of looking at the other parts of the story. Also, since there is no age restriction in reading works in Wattpad, it is saddening to see co-readers read the stories immaturely. However, as I am reading this article, I also understand that the authors should also share responsibility towards their readers, especially the minors. What’s making this ‘patok’ to the young Filipino readers is that IMO the way of writing of the author, regardless of the quality of the plot, is still beautifully written (as compared to other famous works in Wattpad). One of the authors mentioned in the article recently launched her own app, and as a user of that app, I notice that one must be of right age before proceeding to read her works. I am really glad that their team made it. However, there’s no stricter rules for that. Any user of that app can lie with their age, and it is quite disturbing. BUT it is quite understandable as it is still new and there’s always room for improvement.

    While I am a fan of one of the authors mentioned in the article, I am also enlightened by the dark side of their writing. As far as I know, they encourage people to write a letter or send an e-mail to them for the betterment of their works.I hope that this would really be raised to the authors, and the authors would take an EVIDENT action to improve their writing.

    As I finished reading the article, I still conclude that I still love that author. It’s I think because I just can’t hate immediately an author that I support for 2 years. BUT not because I love the author eh I will be blinded by that. Love is not really blind, and we should help those we love to improve and be the better versions of themselves. As a suporter, I would also start to take an action with this and try to reach her, hoping that she would notice my letter and give time to read and listen.

    Again, thank you for this article! It may be hard for diehard supporters to accept the truth as sometimes it is mistaken as purely bashing and degrading of the image of authors. On the other hand, I hope that we, readers, could still open our eyes and minds to understand such constructive criticisms, kahit pa gradually lang, as long as there is an improvement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello there,

      Thanks for the response to this article. As a magazine we try to provide a platform for all kinds of voices. We are open to write-ups from Wattpad groups and Wattpad authors, should they want to present another argument. As long as the submissions are up to par and the quality of the writing meets our editorial standards, we will run these response to Ms. Togonon’s column.

      Revolt Magazine encourages the reading of different kinds of literature for the purpose of literary criticism and review. We encourage people to speak their minds and commit their thoughts to writing, the same way you did. And this is something that we cherish and value as supporters of counterculture and independent writing.

      We hope that in due time, everyone would see the importance of reviews and literary criticism. We can’t stop people from writing, or from audiences from growing. What we can contribute are pauses between reading. We offer the possibility of “what if” and “maybe this isn’t working.” Ultimately we want to help writing in the PH grow. We commit our energies and our academic training to this endeavor.

      Again, thank you for being a crystal clear voice amidst the crowd. We appreciate you taking the time to write to us.

      Regards,
      Revolt Magazine PH

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    2. Hello,

      This has been refreshing to read. To tell you honestly, the reason why I wrote this commentary is to spark some debate among the reading community that sometimes “kilig” doesn’t justify problematic tropes.

      Thank you for the response you have provided. I am not telling the readers to “un-love” their author but rather, as readers, go deep and analyze what it does to young minds specifically because Wattpad is not age-restricted and many minors think that when the story happens in real life, it is okay because it is considered love in the story.

      I hope many more of you come forward and come to the realization that literary criticisms like this are okay and it is never in any way, degrading an author but instead realize that there is still room for improvement especially in writing.

      Regards,
      Kayla Nicole Togonon

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      1. Good day! I just want to clarify some of what I’ve said.

        About the sexual grooming part, I misunderstood the term as having sexual relationships with minors. While this may be half of the definition, I want to clarify that the female characters in Costa Leona Series are in no way got sexually abused by the male characters, or even resulted their relationship into danger such as pornography, trafficking, or any violence. I admit that there are some couples in the other books of the series wherein the leads happened to make a sexual intercourse while the lady is still a minor (17 years old). HOWEVER, the male lead got arrested and condoned by that. I would just let it clear that as far as I can remember, there is no single male lead in the mentioned series that manipulated the minds of the female leads in a sexual manner, in a way that will make the femal go insane in love and be addicted/blind with the idea of it. In case of paedophilia, which is also a term that some of the readers (not only this author’s readers) used recklessly, there hasn’t such a thing that happened like that. The male characters’ age preference for their partners is even always above their age. Everytime I read that term in post and happened to get sticked at the series, I just can’t help but to face palm haha. I am saddened with the behavior of some readers since they tend to misunderstood the true definition, and acted as if it’s cool to use that term and bullshit, BUT it is not.

        I apologize for some misunderstanding and also to my choice of words. I am not fluent in this medium but I do hope that my words will be fully understood.

        Thank you for your time! I hope this clears some things up. I am looking forward to other articles related to this wherein it caters not just only three authors and their works. There are waaaay more stories in Wattpad which are full of problematic plots that I have read (but didn’t dare to finish them lol) and also, the in-line comments on the paragraphs FREELY JUSTIFY RAPE and other forms of sexual abuse. Imagine a young reader is confused with what’s happening, tend to find answers in the comment section, then voila! Rape turned into a love. A man who jusr regretted what he did turned to be sympathized and loved more by the readers. It’s alarming and RIDICULOUS! But I am only an individual, and it’s hard voice out successfully what I want to say if I am all alone. I could even see that they are being published by known publishers in the country. I am hoping that you can be THE instrument to reveal what’s really behind them.

        As with the other authors and works mentioned in the article, I cannot give a comment about them since I haven’t read any of their stories. I am in no position to give my insights about them. BUT I am fully aware of them and the somehow themes of their works; I just can’t risk my words to just base from what I only hear that might mislead me. Lastly, may I just add that there are still stories in Wattpad which deserve readers’ interests but are sadly underrated. I am also looking forward to read articles about them, too in the future.

        Again, thank you very much for your understanding! I did not expect my comment to be posted since I waited for a day but I haven’t seen it 😅 looks like I’m just impatient (HAHA!), but seeing this now, with corresponding replies from the Magazine and the writer of the column/commentary, I am deeply grateful that my thoughts got reached the target audience.

        Continue to provide objective commentaries and support our local authors. Wag natin silang bitawan, alam kong kayang-kaya nating tulungan ang bawat isa para mas ma-improve pa natin ang ating mga sarili sa larangang ito. Sa huli naman ay ang mga mambabasa naman ang siyang pinaka magbe-benefit sa ginagawa natin.

        More powers to the whole team! Sana ay hindi kayo pinanghinanaan ng loob sa mga natanggap ninyong out-of-the-way criticisms, at sana ay hindi rin ito mag-result into a deep scar that will taunt you for life.

        :-)))
        –Anonymous

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      2. Hello,

        We received tons of negatives for the article, but that’s the thing kasi – the article stands. It shall remain. Anyone who wishes to assail it academically is free to submit through our regular submission channel. All submission go through the same process of evaluation.

        Byt the way, we love the fact that you take the time to ease out these details. The commentator/critic is learning as much from the community as the community is hopefully learning from her work. You’re free to continue speaking your mind about this matter, and we shall not hinder you from doing so. Apologies for any delays in letting your comments through, we’re really busy with the works of other authors as well.

        As for your reference to local authors who still need help, of course we’ll be here for them. This entire platform, Revolt Magazine, is dedicated to the independent publishing of all kinds of works. In fact, we accept fiction and all sorts of prose, too. They are most welcome here if they wish to submit, as long as their works meet the editorial and literary standards we have set to elevate the craft and provide the best reading experience to Filipino readers.

        We do this because we believe that Filipino readers deserve more. We’re working on it, daily.

        Thanks again.

        Regards,
        Revolt Magazine PH

        Like

  4. if these things continue, wattap will become like a tabloid like tiktik & boso, xerex, or yung mga basahan ng kwentong bastos sa web nung 90 to 20. Another venue to pollute & corrupt minds. Next thing we know, next-generation have a westerner mindset, having sex is normal n lng. basta feel mo. kht paano or kahit sino n lng.. sasabihin basa mag safe sex. Khit nakapag-aral ka pa ng mataas.. baba yung morality ntin, & respect ntin sa sarili ntin. Perverted n yung next generation lalo n wlang guidance ng magulang. Baka pag gising natin 1 day hindi lang gay marriage sinisigaw nila .. pati pro abortion na. Lalong maapi ang mga babae.
    Remember sex is not evil, but if you put it or use it wrong & anywhere it will consume things badly. Its like fire, fire is useful & helpful, for cooking & making things warm. If you use it in the kitchen or in the proper place its beneficial, but put it anywhere, like in the living room or bedroom one day it will burn your house.

    Liked by 1 person

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