But in a country where roughly a quarter of the population lives on US$1 dollar a day or less, the books have proved so popular because they always offer hope.
Romance author Maia Jose, who began writing in 1990, said the genre centred on the build-up of a romantic relationship that must end either in marriage or in a commitment.
â€œThe book must be 128 pages long and it's a formula, so it must have a happy ending. If it doesn't have a happy ending the reader would be offended,â€ the mother-of-three said.
The authors typically do not have any formal writing background, with housewives, students and moonlighting accountants among a mixed bag of storytellers.
Jose said she generally took between two and four weeks to write a book, while one particularly prolific writer once churned out nearly 100 in a year.
Even the most famous writers do not earn enough to make a full-time living from their craft, with publishers paying them about 5,000 pesos (US$120) per book.
Melanie Tamayo, a 51-year-old grade-school graduate who cooks and cleans house for rich Manila families, said she had been spending her spare cash and free time on romance pocketbooks for more than a decade.
â€œIf the story is really good I spend the rest of the night reading instead of going to sleep,â€ she told AFP.
â€œAt times I feel I am the lead female character â€” somebody who is poor and got lucky when she went to work abroad.â€
Each title gets an initial print run of 5,000 copies or more, making romance novelists the envy of critically acclaimed Filipino authors.
â€œThey (serious authors) would be happy if their book sold 1,000 copies,â€ Jose said.
The books have also built a huge global following, thanks to the roughly nine million Filipinos who work or live abroad.
The most famous authors go on book tours to Hong Kong, Singapore and elsewhere where hundreds of thousands of Filipina maids, who are among their most loyal readers, work.
Dennis Gonzales, chairman of the government's National Book Development Board, said the romance books were an important way of keeping people interested in the written word, amid the distractions of new technologies. -- http://www.chinapost.com.tw/