Trese by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo

“As the Universe seeks balance, so does the Underworld”

Trese (2)

See the genius behind the covers. Amazing? I know.

Blurb via Goodreads for Book1 :

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.


Trese #1 was published in 2008 but I only picked it up during the start of 2015. It was actually my bookworm cousin who recommended this to me and she has always suggested good stuff so I simply cannot ignore her recommendation. Know that I haven’t really been much of a graphic novel kind of reader but Trese simply left me in awe. As of this writing, Trese is now in on its sixth edition and I am positive that I am one among many who cannot wait for what happens next to Alexandra, Kambal, Maliksi and the rest of the gang.

This graphic novel is for everyone who loves Filipino folklore with a twist of heroic antics. It takes one back to those childhood days when dark creatures were used to put us to bed and to scare us from being naughty little kids. The story mainly focuses on Alexandra Trese, a bar owner moonlighting as a supernatural investigator. Whenever a crime which seems far from normal arise, the police force always seek the expertise and services of Alexandra whom they fondly call “Trese” and is almost always flanked by her bodyguards, “Kambal”.

“Despite all your planning, you missed out on the bigger picture”

Each book, as slim as it may seem is full of action-packed pages and impressive narration of our folklore, complete with detailed imagery, characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. I for one has taken a strong fondness for “Nuno sa Manhole” who is always asking for bribes in the form of sweets and can sometimes be a choosy little thing too. (no pun intended). Each edition contains more or less 4-5 stories inside, each story detailing a specific kind of encounter with a creature that we might have heard already from childhood stories. The flavor in this is that these creatures were not presented in the old school sense. They were somehow recreated in a way that’s fit for modernization and urban setting.

I’m not sure if it’s just because I do not have a lot of graphic novels to compare this with but I was truly impressed by Trese. I loved the individuality in the characters as well as the dry humor ( See Kambal 1: Gago!  –  Kambal 2: If I’m gago, then you’re gago-er.) used in the dialogue. I adored how they referenced to Filipino personalities in history and how our mythology was given a dark yet modern twist. I was overwhelmed with the use of references and association to real life events and places making the readers feel at home and relate to the story (as weird and creepy as that may seem). Throughout the stories, we can also feel and see different Pinoy values being reiterated and pointed out.

trese2

After reading all six editions, I found myself forcing my copies to family and friends and feeling mighty proud whenever they report back that they have enjoyed it the same way I did. This graphic novel which has a Grimm-like feel into it definitely deserves our time and attention. The first few books, as enjoyable as they may be sometimes seem detached from one another without any direct link to the next story. It was like reading different standalones with the same characters. However, as the story progressed, I found myself being hooked all the more since the story has developed a plot and ended the sixth edition with a twist. The sixth among the installment has been my favorite so far and I am positive that the seventh one will knock our socks off!

 “Tabi, tabi po. Good evening po.”

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