When the sun sets in the city of Manila, don’t you dare make a wrong turn and end up in that dimly-lit side of the metro, where aswang run the most-wanted kidnapping rings, where kapre are the kingpins of crime, and engkantos slip through the cracks and steal your most precious possessions.When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese
Philippine mythology is not really known to many people. Even in the Philippines, only a small number of the population is really versed when it comes to deeper Philippine mythology. While there are mythological creatures that are well-known, such as the tiyanak (a small creature that mimics a baby), the aswang (the typical Filipino ghoul), the duwende (dwarf), the higante (giant) the manananggal (a specific type of aswang that masquerades as a beautiful woman in the morning, but transforms into a hideous creature that is able to separate her upper and lower half at night), the kapre (a large creature that dwells in trees and whose presence is signified by the smell of cigars) and the tikbalang (a half-human, half-horse creature that’s supernaturally fast and strong), the graphic novel series Trese takes it one step further by integrating less common mythological creatures as part of the Philippine society. Whether you’re looking for gods, goddesses, nighttime terrors, or fairies of the glen, Trese delivers them all, Filipino-style.
Trese is a horror and crime graphic novel that features the life of a young woman named Alexandra Trese. Written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldismo, Trese tells of Alexandra Trese and her adventures as a “police woman” who works at keeping the balance between the supernatural and “common” Filipino worlds. The stories in Trese mostly take place in Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines. In her adventures, Trese investigates and solves crimes that often have supernatural origins or culprits.
Because of the dynamic and diverse story line, Trese features a whole host of supporting characters, as well as one-time characters (usually mythological beings). The minor characters include a rogue war god, friendly wind spirits, petulant adolescent dragon people, and the spirit of a woman who helps you get over your heartbreak by literally breaking your heart in two. However, Trese also features several main characters, such as:
Alexandra Trese is the main protagonist of the comic series. She solves crimes of supernatural origin and captures the supernatural culprits.
Where western comics usually feature young sidekicks, Trese features a pair of handsome masked men who work as Trese’s body guards. In the third installment of the series, it was revealed that the Kambal are twins who are half-human, half-gods. They are named Crispin and Basilio.
Captain Guerrero can be called Trese’s own Commissioner Gordon. He is the head of the police force, and often calls upon Trese whenever the criminal cases have a supernatural element that cannot be readily explained. Captain Guerrero is one of the few people outside of Trese’s family who knows the supernatural underground that lurks under Manila’s normal façade.
Trese’s trusted ally and family friend, Hank Sparrow is the bartender for Trese’s club, The Diabolical.
Anton Trese is the father of Alexandre Trese. He was once the guardian of Metro Manila, before the mantle was passed on to his daughter, Alexandra.
At present, there are already five graphic novels released in the series. Readers from the Philippines, or who are familiar with Philippine landmarks and Philippine culture who take the time to read the series will appreciate the “Easter eggs” that can be found throughout the books. Familiar places such as well-known malls, schools, and landmarks, as well as satirical takes on famous people such as local celebrities and politicians are abundant in the books.
If you want to learn more about Philippine mythology other than what you can usually read in children’s books and from most Philippine history books, a look or two into the Trese series will definitely be worth your time!
Trese can now be downloaded as ebooks from your favourite online bookstore:-