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Donnalyn Bartolome slammed for posing as toddler in titillating birthday shoot; apologizes for 'honest mistake'

By NICK GARCIA Published Jul 10, 2022 5:17 pm

Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of pedophilia and child sexual abuse.

Many netizens took influencer Donnalyn Bartolome to task for posing as a toddler on her 28th birthday shoot, questioning her chosen "problematic" theme which, they say, romanticizes and promotes pedophilia.

In a now-deleted post, Bartolome shared photos of the titillating shoot on her social media accounts on July 9, in which she wore a pink one-piece outfit with the text "BABY DONNA."

As she's lying down, she also held a baby bottle which she sucked on in some shots, as she did a wink and a lip bite. She also playfully inserted her middle and ring finger into a stuffed toy's hole.

A blue signage also read, "336 MONTHS OLD/STILL SINGLE/BUT NOT LOOKING."

Bartolome also separately shared a link to her now-deleted YouTube vlog titled "BABY MO BIRTHDAY PHOTOSHOOT ;)." The post came with a photo of her only wearing diapers and a bib.

There are netizens who wished her a happy birthday and complimented her looks and chosen theme. But several commenters, including mothers, were left disturbed and disgusted.

Bartolome has 15 million followers on Facebook and 6.8 million on Instagram, as well as 9.2 million subscribers on YouTube.

'Somewhat triggering'

One user, who said she was molested as a child, described Bartolome's post as "somewhat triggering."

"Although I'm sure you didn't do this with the intention of feeding predators their sick fantasies," the user said, "you should have been more aware of issues like these that are sadly affecting thousands of children."

The user said Bartolome is "probably a good person," but informed her that "being a child is not sexy."

"You do realize this can trigger pedophiles? How irresponsible! For us parents, this is off and disturbing," another user said.

Another netizen urged Bartolome to educate herself about paraphilic infantilism, a sexual fetish that involves role-playing a regression to an infant-like state.

"Some ladies from mommy groups are already reporting your page," the user said. "[A]s an influencer, you have SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY."

In a public post, a certain Maria Pilar Dy who has 17,000 followers said while she has no problem with Bartolome showing skin, even her nipples, a grown woman should not dress up as a child and pose seductively.

"Whoever came up with this idea and approved it is both uneducated and obviously not knowledgeable about our current societal issues," Dy said, noting that perverted adult males prey on younger girls and get off (masturbate) to them.

"Some would even spend thousands to buy videos of little girls being abused physically and sexually," she noted.

'Honest mistake'

On July 10, Bartolome issued a public apology on Facebook, saying the photoshoot was an "honest mistake" and it was "never" her intention to "enable one of the most horrifying acts here on Earth."

She explained that she couldn't remove her post right away because she needed to copyright the photos to prevent the spread of it furthermore until she got a go signal from Facebook and other social media managers.

"(It's) an assurance that they know I am the owner of the photo and they’ll help me correct this by taking down all of the posts involving this photoshoot," she said, as she asked followers to send links to posts that used the deleted photos.

Citing her personality, Bartolome said she shared the same sentiments with followers that it's meant to be a light and funny shoot, but the criticisms of other users helped her realize things.

"Upon reading other people’s perspectives, I completely agree. I feel terrible, sick to my stomach, and had disturbing flashbacks I’d rather not say," she said.

"Thank you to everyone who let me know, especially those who did it so kindly, you’re the type of people who help me become a better person every day as I hold the responsibility of influencing millions. It’s not easy.. but I’ll do my best."

She also referred the Department of Social Welfare and Development's care facility Nayon ng Kabataan in Mandaluyong, saying she was admitted there before as a minor.

"The children admitted there carry so much pain, you can donate or send them little gifts to make them feel better," Bartolome said.

PH child exploitation cases

Just last July 7, a man from Australia was arrested for livestreaming child exploitation material from the Philippines. Authorities also found that he paid for explicit pictures and videos of a Filipino child, as well as held online conversations with facilitators of live distance child abuse.

On July 8, a man from London was also arrested for arranging the sexual abuse of Filipino children and paying to watch it in a livestream. Investigators found his chat logs in which he directed abuse facilitators to perform sexual acts on children, as well as instructing them to abuse themselves and each other.

According to a May 2021 report from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the country has been tagged as the global epicenter of livestream sexual trafficking of children, based on data from the United States-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center.

At the height of the pandemic, tech companies reported that over 1.29 million images and videos of child abuse materials came from the Philippines in 2020, according to PCIJ. From March 1 to May 24 that year, in the early days of lockdown, the Department of Justice reported 202,605 cases of online sexual exploitation of children.

Facebook also found 279,166 images of child sexual abuse and similar content on its site from March to May 2020, PCIJ reported.