Tabi-Tabi Po! : A Review on the Filipino Komik Series, Trese
It’s no secret that there’s great passion and love for art in the Philippines. From painting, carving, dancing, singing, film, and many more- for a great deal of such, we Filipinos have integrated our culture into our craft. It’s a very important part of us, and each practice and belief is held dearly by many. It’s what connects us together as Filipinos. A big part of our culture is our folklore. The different tales we’ve been told as children from mythical creatures to superstitions we should or shouldn’t say have been kept alive for hundreds of years. Though in our modern-day and age a lot of beliefs have changed, it’s still a very big part of our culture and our traditional values. These said beliefs have been reflected on multiple platforms of our art as seen last June 11, 2021, as Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo brought Trese, a Filipino supernatural comic series they created all the way back in 2005, to life as they adapted it into an animated TV series.
The story begins with Alexandra Trese (voiced by Liza Soberano in its Filipino version), a detective and babaylan-mandirigma or “shaman warrior” with deep connections to the Underworld. As a healer and guardian of Manila, she carries around a shorthand knife for a weapon. With a fierce front and willingness to fight, she investigates supernatural beings in Manila and teams up with half-deity twin bodyguards Crispin and Basilio (voiced by Simon dela Cruz) who are collectively known as Kambal to ensure that the citizens are safe from said mythical creatures. The series brought attention to iconic Filipino legends such as aswangs, tiyanaks, tikbalangs, duwendes, and many more that we were all warned of as kids. Each creature is provided with its own stories and how they’ve come to be. From missing train passengers and a ghost sacrifice that started the whole journey in the first glimpse of the show, each episode presents a new mystery leading up to the climax of the story where the main antagonist is revealed. With every twist and turn, the thrilling and dark series will surely leave you wanting more.
A notable thing about Trese is that it also made sure to make the setting truly look and feel like Manila. With its realistic skyline and items or signs that reference Filipino-known brands such as Choc-Nut, Meralco, and ABS-CBN (or seen as ABC-ZNN on-screen), the series really brought the city to life and has done a good job in showing our nation’s perspective to the rest of the world. The showrunners also didn’t shy away from touching on serious topics that are happening in the Philippines today. Even the characters are well-written to match Filipinos’ way of living and how we speak. In addition to this, they also made sure that the cast is all-Filipino, which is a big deal for our country as we have not had that large of a presence in the Film Industry, especially outside of our country. To have Trese streaming internationally on such a big platform like Netflix has opened the doors to all sorts of opportunities for us Filipinos. It has shed light on our country’s animation and story-telling, and it has even brought part of our culture for the international audience to see, and it surely won’t be the last time the world will hear of our work.
In addition to the great contribution the series has made to the representation of the Philippines and our art, as a brave crime fighter, Trese’s character has surely become a good source of female representation in films that revolve around action and being a superhero. It goes to show how truly capable and strong-willed women are just as much as the usual male heroes that we see on television. All in all, Trese is a great series to watch if you’re looking for thrill and mystery. It will surely leave you at the edge of your seat.