Aswang, manananggal, tikbalang—we often think these supernatural creatures only live in the province, where they can dwell in the mountains and thrive in the hundred-year old trees. Imagining a manananggal taking flight in the metro or a nuno sa punso living it up in one of the parks in Manila seemed a bit far-fetched.
Trese brings to life a slew Filipino mythical creatures living in Manila and introduces us to Alexandra Trese, a specialist in solving unexplainable crimes mostly dealing with the supernatural. It answers the question of how the creatures from Filipino folklore fit in the modern-day setting. Readers are taken from Manila to Makati to Quiapo to Quezon City as they follow Trese’s investigation of the most mind-boggling cases.
The story crafted by Budjette Tan and drawn to life by KaJo Baldisimo has already inspired a following of loyal readers, craving to read more of Detective Trese’s adventures into the unknown. With five komiks and a book of illustrated short stories already filling the bookshelves of fans, we’re already waiting for the release of the sixth book in the series.
In the meantime, here are some Trese characters who are at times endearing, other times frighteningly good at being their awesome selves.
9. The Whole Trese Clan
As much I’d love to give each one a spot in this list, they are rarely shown in the komiks. Alexandra Trese belongs in a clan who has been fighting the demons and vile supernatural beings for generations. Her brothers—a hunter, history professor, a priest, and a thief—have their own crusades against evil. We see snippets of them in Mass Murders, and we even saw Alexandra’s father, Anton Trese, in action.
8. Capt. Guerrero
The police officer is one of the few humans we regularly see in the series. Though he’s rarely part of the main action, Capt. Guerrero is pretty strong for standing his ground in the most unusual cases. Merely human, he doesn’t have superpowers to solve supernatural crimes. Yet, his trust and belief on Alexandra Trese makes him an outstanding officer. He sees a crime and entertains every possible reasoning behind. His open-mindedness allows Trese to pave the way for the truth.
7. Hank Sparrow
Diabolical’s resident bartender encounters all kinds of customers—from humans to kapre to ghosts. He takes it all in strides and welcomes whoever sits in his bar. Hank remembers every customer’s favorite drink and what they need to cure a nasty hangover. I am thankful that we have Stories from the Diabolical to shed some spotlight on Hank.
6. Wind Tribe Deities
The personified members of the Amihan and Habagat tribes are delightful minor characters in the series. Though they do not have a case specifically devoted to them, they never hesitate to join Trese in rooting out the bad guys. In their first appearance, they helped Trese beat Maliksi in a drag race, and they also jumped in to help in defeating Tagbulusao.
5. Nuno sa Manhole
He may be little, but the Nuno helped Trese in a number of tight spots in several books. He seems to have an answer to everything. There are times when he’s hesitant to help, but he does it anyway. He’s one of the quirky characters who only does what expected of him, without having to leave the comforts of his manhole and enjoying Trese’s gift of sweets like chocnut.
Trese warned not to play with her little fiery friend, but it’s proven that the relationship between the two are strong enough to stand the test of time. Though Santelmo doesn’t appear as regularly as possible, he quickly answers to Trese’s call, helping her without batting an eyelash, if he has any.
Maliksi, a tikbalang who’s a member of the herd of Great Stallion Armazan, is one of the fastest and swiftest characters in the komiks. Though he can be a troublemaker, Trese manages to put him back in line. He joined forces with Trese in defeating Tagbulusao, and he’s the only one who has the courage to woo Trese. It takes a man iron strength of courage to flirt with Alexandra Trese. Maliksi bribes the twin bodyguards with motorcycles, and tries to be on the good side of Trese by making sure she gets the coffee she likes.
Who doesn’t like the twins? Appearing from the first series onwards, Basilio and Crispin are often seeing flying and expertly defeating Trese’s numerous enemies. They’re undeniably loyal to the detective, despite them being the offspring of the great evil Tagbulusao. It may be true that the Kambal are two individuals, but they’re usually portrayed together so it’s a given that they’ll share a spot in this list.
1. Alexandra Trese
The sixth child of the sixth child is prophesied to bring about the siege of the skyworld, while some saying that the child is the one to close the gates to the underworld. Trese has done neither in the series, but she sure has tipped the balance. There’s nothing little about Little Trese, as she has proven in countless occasions that she can live up to the legend of her clan and create her own legacy.
The komiks is filled with kick-ass baddies as well, but the list limits it to the characters who eventually helped our heroine in her fight.
If you haven’t read the komiks, it’s the perfect time to start as they’ll release Trese 6: High Tide at Midnight soon. Catch up by reading snippets of the previous issues in the official Trese blog (http://tresekomix.blogspot.com/) or buy the previous books in the nearest bookstore. It’s too good to miss out on one of the best re-imagination of Philippine folklore.
Who’s your favorite Trese character? Tell us in the comments!
*The image used is a preview for TRESE: 13 STATIONS, a story exclusively published in the anthology Manila Noir edited by Jessica Hagedorn.