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Murder on Balete Drive

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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: Murder 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: Murder On Balete Drive contains the following: Case 1: At the Intersection of Balete and 13th Street Case 2: Rules of the Race Case 3: The Tragic Case of Dr. Burgos Case 4: Our Secret Constellation


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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: Murder 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: Murder On Balete Drive contains the following: Case 1: At the Intersection of Balete and 13th Street Case 2: Rules of the Race Case 3: The Tragic Case of Dr. Burgos Case 4: Our Secret Constellation

30 review for Murder on Balete Drive

  1. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    Balete Drive was a street in Manila where there used to be a ghostly white lady showing herself to drunk drivers in the wee hours of the morning. Right after the drivers saw her, they lost the control of their cars, hit the big balete tree and died. No matter how loud and long those poor drivers shouted for help, the people in the neighborhood would only find the dead drivers and the totally wrecked cars when the sun was up and they were about to do their daily runs or on their way to buy their Balete Drive was a street in Manila where there used to be a ghostly white lady showing herself to drunk drivers in the wee hours of the morning. Right after the drivers saw her, they lost the control of their cars, hit the big balete tree and died. No matter how loud and long those poor drivers shouted for help, the people in the neighborhood would only find the dead drivers and the totally wrecked cars when the sun was up and they were about to do their daily runs or on their way to buy their morning freshly-baked breads. To stop the persistence of this urban legend, that street has long been renamed and the residents in the area put so many lights along the stretch of that street so that drunk Filipino drivers would stop hallucinating seeing a beautiful lady in white while they were under the influence of alcohol. I always suspected that those drivers drank before going home because they hated their wives who were not as beautiful as when they marched wearing their white wedding dresses during their wedding days. So, does the Balete Drive deserve to be continuously immortalized in literature to bring fright to the Filipinos? It's really up to you. I can't control what you want to think of it. Budjette Tan is one of those who still thought of making a cash cow out of this tale. Judging from the positive turnout of this trilogy (yes, this is just the first book), he made the right decision. Filipinos still buy the tale. Maybe there are still many unhappy husbands who can't accept that nothing is permanent in this world including the appearance of their wives. I would advise that they should look at their inner beauty rather than holding on the delusion that the twentyish sex siren who they proposed marriage to will remain forever. I am with his thousands of fans who applaud for this book, however. Anything that celebrates our very own Filipino mythology will never get less than 3 stars (meaning: I liked it!) from me. Balete Drive is just the first story and there are other stories in this book and they are all okay. However, my favorite is the last one that Tan dedicated to my favorite childhood komiks author, Mars Ravelo since he, Ravelo, was the one who created this fictional character. I will not tell you who that character is since that would be too much of a spoiler. I also thought that it would have been better if the back story of the main protagonist Alexandra Trese was made known in this first book. Why does she have all those powers? What's the story behind Kambal? Who was her grandfather? How come she can summon many different allies depending on the given situation? How come she still needs to operate a pub if she is already powerful? I hope these will be answered in the succeeding books. Overall, it is a fun easy read. Fun not because it is an easy read but because we Filipinos need to appreciate and support our local artists especially when they make use of our indigenous materials. Well done, Budjette Tan! Thank you, Jzhun for lending me this book!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nicolo

    This slim volume truly surprised me. It's a Filipino comic that wouldn’t be out of place in a Vertigo Comics solicitation. Normally, I’d stay clear of locally produced comics, unless it’s Pol Medina’s Pugad Baboy or Lyndon Gregorio’s Beerkada. It’s probably my bad experience with Filipino superhero comics. I already read more than enough overproduced American material from DC and Marvel. But I admit Trese rocks! It’s an anthology of stories created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo featuring Al This slim volume truly surprised me. It's a Filipino comic that wouldn’t be out of place in a Vertigo Comics solicitation. Normally, I’d stay clear of locally produced comics, unless it’s Pol Medina’s Pugad Baboy or Lyndon Gregorio’s Beerkada. It’s probably my bad experience with Filipino superhero comics. I already read more than enough overproduced American material from DC and Marvel. But I admit Trese rocks! It’s an anthology of stories created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo featuring Alexandra Trese, bar owner and occult investigator. The local police in the stories make it a habit to call Trese when the case get even a hint of the supernatural. In this volume, she faces up aswangs, elementals and tikbalangs. Good things she’s got the Kambal backing her up. Tan provides the story with Baldisimo providing ample support with his art. The art gets better with every chapter. It starts loose and gritty but tightens as it progresses. I’ve seen the second volume and the art does get better. Tan mines local urban legends, tales of provincial monsters and tabloid headlines for his stories, creating an underworld with a hierarchy and elemental kingdoms and clans. This is the world that Trese polices, acting as the first and final option for any ghoul, were horse that doesn’t toe the line. My favorite story of the first volume has got to be the fourth chapter, “Our Secret Constellation.” It’s a tribute to Filipino super heroine. I’m not saying who but she swallows a stone. It has an Alan Moore vibe to it, think Kid Miracleman, the murdering grown up sidekick. Its one of my few graphic novel purchases this year that was worth every centavo. I created a Goodreads entry for this book just so I can review it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    This was a pleasant surprise. Basically, the main character is a female John Constantine assisting the police in the Philippines. I like how the creative team incorporated Filipino supernatural lore into their stories. It was a great look into Filipino comics. Even though I was familiar with a bunch of Filipino artists who have worked for American comics, I hadn't read any indie comics from the Philippines itself. These were originally created as ashcans (xeroxed copies). The art looks surprisin This was a pleasant surprise. Basically, the main character is a female John Constantine assisting the police in the Philippines. I like how the creative team incorporated Filipino supernatural lore into their stories. It was a great look into Filipino comics. Even though I was familiar with a bunch of Filipino artists who have worked for American comics, I hadn't read any indie comics from the Philippines itself. These were originally created as ashcans (xeroxed copies). The art looks surprisingly good given its bare bones beginnings. This is soon to come out as a Netflix anime series. Received a review copy from Ablaze and Edelweiss. All thoughts are my own and in no way influenced by the aforementioned.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Celina

    One of the highly recommended Filipino books that was mentioned during the Filipino Fridays meme for ReaderCon was the Trese series. At first I hesitated in buying the books because they didn’t seem like my kind of thing, but several people attested to its greatness so I just went ahead and bought them. Now let me first say that I am not well-versed in Philippine Mythology – sure, I’ve heard of aswang, tikbalang, kapre and the like, but I never really tried to find out what they were exactly. Per One of the highly recommended Filipino books that was mentioned during the Filipino Fridays meme for ReaderCon was the Trese series. At first I hesitated in buying the books because they didn’t seem like my kind of thing, but several people attested to its greatness so I just went ahead and bought them. Now let me first say that I am not well-versed in Philippine Mythology – sure, I’ve heard of aswang, tikbalang, kapre and the like, but I never really tried to find out what they were exactly. Perhaps it is because I am a scaredy-cat, so I preferred to not know about that kind of thing. Understandably, I was quite apprehensive to start reading the first book. I suppose maybe I should have waited until daytime to start reading it, instead of at 2:00 in the morning.:) But anyway, my fears were unfounded, because even though the book included some paranormal creatures, I didn’t get that creeped out by them. I really liked Alexandra Trese. She came across like a Filipino version of Kate Daniels – a kickass female with some kind of supernatural powers. Not much was revealed about her – just a few mentions of her father and grandfather here and there – so I am eager to learn more about Trese in the next installments. As for the artwork, I really can’t say much since I don’t consider myself to be a good judge of art. For me, anyone who has the ability to draw is to be admired.:) So it goes without saying that I was impressed by the illustrations. At first I thought it would have been nicer if it was in full color, but I think having it in black and white kind of gave a darker feel to it. Overall, a fast and enjoyable read and a book that I hope more people will pick up.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Neil (or bleed)

    It has similarities on concepts with the comics Fables by Bill Willingham (Vertigo) but I prefer Trese for obvious reasons.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    Full post at One More Page Trese is a comic book series about Alexandra Trese, a bar owner who also works as a paranormal detective helping the Manila police in solving the weirder crimes that happen in the metro. Each book has a series of shorter stories inside, where we see Trese find the criminal through her contacts in the paranormal world. As it's set in the Philippines, Trese's paranormal contacts are all from the Philippine mythology -- aswang, duwende, tikblang, etc. I remember reading the Full post at One More Page Trese is a comic book series about Alexandra Trese, a bar owner who also works as a paranormal detective helping the Manila police in solving the weirder crimes that happen in the metro. Each book has a series of shorter stories inside, where we see Trese find the criminal through her contacts in the paranormal world. As it's set in the Philippines, Trese's paranormal contacts are all from the Philippine mythology -- aswang, duwende, tikblang, etc. I remember reading the first book last year and being impressed -- it was very nice to read about something I know and grew up with given a different twist. Trese was likeable despite her very cold demeanor, and she immediately joins the strong female leads that I have read about in other books. I do find her a little bit too perfect in this though -- perfect in the sense that she knows everything and she does everything right. I would've wanted her to mess up a bit, but that may be too much for me to ask in the first book. The cases were interesting, and they tread carefully between the line of paranormal and horror (is there a line there? Not sure). I liked how it related to what I know as a Filipino, but not in the classic, dated sense. I liked that the story was set in places in Manila and how they were updated to the current times. No deep dark forests or remote provinces were the creatures normally lurk here, for sure. It's fun, and thankfully not scary enough for me to really freak out, you know? Yeah, I know, I'm a big chicken. :P On the international front, I think Trese would be able to hold its own with a bit of limitation. I don't think it's very hard to understand, but I think the mythology would take some time to get used to and would need more research for a non-Filipino reader to understand. It's easy for me to wrap my head around the creepiness of Balete Drive because I live here, but for someone in another country, I'm not sure if the creepiness factor would be the same. Still, I'd like to see how non-Filipino readers would view Trese .

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ariel Acupan

    First, I wanna thank Mina for recommending TRESE to me. *Big Hug* What can I say? It's breath of fresh air for me. I guess it's because most of the urban fantasy that I've been reading was about vampire, werewolves , fairies and wizards, TRESE talks about “our” story. It was like Buffy meets Harry Dresden with a dash of Filipino folklore. Alexandra kicks ass and I also mean it literally. A white lady, tikbalang, santelmo and even Darna was on the first book of TRESE. Hands down to Budjette Tan an First, I wanna thank Mina for recommending TRESE to me. *Big Hug* What can I say? It's breath of fresh air for me. I guess it's because most of the urban fantasy that I've been reading was about vampire, werewolves , fairies and wizards, TRESE talks about “our” story. It was like Buffy meets Harry Dresden with a dash of Filipino folklore. Alexandra kicks ass and I also mean it literally. A white lady, tikbalang, santelmo and even Darna was on the first book of TRESE. Hands down to Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, we should really support this brave souls for the only ammunition they've got is their talent and dream. When I was a kid, comics inspires me to read, to believe and to dream. I hope that a kid would pick this up and experience the same feeling that got me into reading. You would definitely not be disappointed when you pick up a copy of TRESE, it would take you on a roller coaster ride. I had a BLAST! ^_^

  8. 5 out of 5

    C.J. Edmunds

    Kept seeing this at National Bookstore then and admittedly when another author spoke extensively about this did I try picking it up and loved it! Combining urban fantasy and Philippine folklore, this graphic novel is a series of stories about Alexandra Trese, our Philippine equivalent, to Kolchak and Fox Mulder. But the cool thing about her is that she's got two magical twins as her right hand men and doesn't bat an eyelash at the different magical creatures and circumstances that she gets hersel Kept seeing this at National Bookstore then and admittedly when another author spoke extensively about this did I try picking it up and loved it! Combining urban fantasy and Philippine folklore, this graphic novel is a series of stories about Alexandra Trese, our Philippine equivalent, to Kolchak and Fox Mulder. But the cool thing about her is that she's got two magical twins as her right hand men and doesn't bat an eyelash at the different magical creatures and circumstances that she gets herself involved in whenever the police call in on her for help on things, paranormal. So far Book 4 has been released and it's no surprise why I already have Book 2 on stanby for my weekend reading. Celebrate our being Filipino. Remember our own folklore and mythology and read this. :)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Armand

    This comic anthology is perfect for cold, monsoon-drenched nights when you need something out of the usual, something more immediate to get your horror fix. And personally it can't get any closer to home than this, as it features otherworldly creatures from Philippine mythology and legends through stories set in a modern and metropolitan milieu. It's a monochromatic 21st-century occult noir that explores the bruised and broken landscape of an Asian megacity. It's a promising concept that would s This comic anthology is perfect for cold, monsoon-drenched nights when you need something out of the usual, something more immediate to get your horror fix. And personally it can't get any closer to home than this, as it features otherworldly creatures from Philippine mythology and legends through stories set in a modern and metropolitan milieu. It's a monochromatic 21st-century occult noir that explores the bruised and broken landscape of an Asian megacity. It's a promising concept that would seem like the very devil to pull off. At that, this book did not just succeed - it well exceeded my expectations. And they were rather high to begin with - what with the news that Netflix is set to produce this as a series with no less than the director of several DC animated films at the helm. I saw sample pages of the redrawn Balete story in the successfully-funded Indiegogo campaign for a global release of that comic, and aesthetically it was a vast improvement. The rough linework and somber inks of this volume have their own charm though, and really, it's the stories that drive this particular beast. Speaking of stories, At the Intersection of Balete and 13th Street gave quite a jolt. It's a tale of the terrible and ruthless sacrifice a grieving woman is prepared to make for the sake of revenge. It also provided an obscure but interesting method of "killing" ghosts which comes at a terrible price. Our Secret Constellation is a bittersweet riff on one of our local comic superheroes, about what ensues when one's legacy is used to less than noble ends. It also introduced us to the Diabolical, our trio's bar-cum-HQ which plays the framing device in one of the series' latter books, Trese: Stories from the Diabolical, Volume 1. I'm rating it 8/10 or 4 stars out of 5.

  10. 4 out of 5

    nagliliyab

    Compelling, but at the end of the day all cops are bastards. Sorry, Alexandra. I do hope that Budjette and Kajo will move towards creating Pinoy mythical stories that support local mass movements, especially at a period when there is intensified crackdown on community organizers and citizens by the police, whom, sadly, the protagonist in this comic book series lends her expertise to.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    And I finally decided to start reading comic books and what better way to start than on Filipino comic books. :) I have reservations before in buying comic books because I am not really into reading that type of material aside from it being so expensive sometimes and you only got to read so little out of it. And I don't know what got into me when I walked into a bookstore one day I passed the comic book section and I saw the Trese series that I have been seeing everytime I pass that section. I al And I finally decided to start reading comic books and what better way to start than on Filipino comic books. :) I have reservations before in buying comic books because I am not really into reading that type of material aside from it being so expensive sometimes and you only got to read so little out of it. And I don't know what got into me when I walked into a bookstore one day I passed the comic book section and I saw the Trese series that I have been seeing everytime I pass that section. I also am hearing alot of buzz about this series especially from my friends so I said to myself why not give it a try. I browse through a couple of pages which is about a white lady that was killed (now that's new to me) and enjoyed what I read so I finally decided to buy not just the first volume but all the five available volumes. (I was later then informed that the sixth volume will be release this December so I guess that's what we call good timing ;) ). The series is about Alexandra Trese an investigator who works with the police in solving crimes involving supernatural origins. She is assisted by her boys, the Kambal, in this job. The stories in each volume incorporates Philippine pop culture and Philippines folklore. The first volume is compose of 4 stories. The first is about a white lady in Balete drive that was killed, the second being a Tikbalang using his prowess to reign supreme is the drag racing world, the third is about a fire kinda man thing, witches and santelmos and the fourth one, which my favorite among the four and is a tribute to Mars Ravelo, is about a brother of a Filipina superhero who takes justice on his hands. I don't know if I'm being rude if I say that I laughed at the last story. I never expected that twist and I like how the author did that. :D After finishing the book, I realized that the author is clever enough not to divulge all the back stories of the characters as you would want to get the next series to know the answers to your questions. And it worked. The idea is unique and I like how the stories were so simple and to the point and not that dragging (I just wish that it could be longer maybe like an additional 2-3 pages each story). The illustrations were also perfectly made. The writer and the illustrator really are a good tandem. I like that it is just plain black and white. :) It is also good to note that the take of the book deviated from the usual Western style or Japanese Manga type of thing. Many of my friends have been recommending this to me because as per them this is a breath of fresh air form the usual comics that they read. I believe this is because this is something closer to their heart as the setting and theme is Filipino related. I am happy that this book is the book that introduced me to comic book reading. I fell in love with it. I never imagined that I would enjoy reading comics books. This is something that needs to be circulated around the world, introducing the Filipinos as serious comic book writers and artists. Amazing amazing. Can't wait to start the second book. 4.5/5

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maan

    Book #143 for 2011 I've heard of Trese years back. I heard nothing but great things about this graphic novel. I wanted to start this series but since I still have tons of books in my To Be Read pile, I wrote Trese in my To Be Purchased list instead. Last Friday, I found myself in National Bookstore and purchased Trese Vol. 1-4. I read and read. I was in awe. I know I have an addictive personality and the moment I flipped through the first few pages of Trese, I started a habit. I wanted more. I wa Book #143 for 2011 I've heard of Trese years back. I heard nothing but great things about this graphic novel. I wanted to start this series but since I still have tons of books in my To Be Read pile, I wrote Trese in my To Be Purchased list instead. Last Friday, I found myself in National Bookstore and purchased Trese Vol. 1-4. I read and read. I was in awe. I know I have an addictive personality and the moment I flipped through the first few pages of Trese, I started a habit. I wanted more. I was craving for more. But unlike most habits, this one is not destructive. I will push Trese to my family and friends and I will not feel guilty if they start this habit and get hooked. Let's all be addicts to the drug that is Trese.

  13. 5 out of 5

    just kat

    WOW. This was a lesson of sorts for me about Filipino folklore specifically the dark creatures that go bump in the dark. I never knew we had that many scary creatures. I liked the dry humor scattered all throughout the story. I couldn't help but chuckle whenever the main character's sidekicks said 'Bossing' because it's reminiscent of those old action movies I used to watch when I was a kid. The mystery of what the main character is hooked me as well. The way she knows who to call on when crime WOW. This was a lesson of sorts for me about Filipino folklore specifically the dark creatures that go bump in the dark. I never knew we had that many scary creatures. I liked the dry humor scattered all throughout the story. I couldn't help but chuckle whenever the main character's sidekicks said 'Bossing' because it's reminiscent of those old action movies I used to watch when I was a kid. The mystery of what the main character is hooked me as well. The way she knows who to call on when crime involving them creatures suggests that she herself is one of them. Her grandfather served as a big boss of some kind too! Oh well, Ive got 4 more to read I guess more will be revealed about her in the next volumes.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Frankie

    Trese is just so. Damn. Cool. Yeah, I'm late to the party, but it's still pretty good even in 2020. You can really tell why Neil Gaiman is a fan of this series. It's dark, gritty, and lush. Alexandra Trese is the most iconic noir heroine I've seen. She's mysterious and ruthless, and I hope to see more of her backstory in future chapters. I'm Filipino so I'm already familiar with all the mythology here, but Tan and Baldisimo put interesting twists on the worldbuilding. Urban fantasy fans, this is f Trese is just so. Damn. Cool. Yeah, I'm late to the party, but it's still pretty good even in 2020. You can really tell why Neil Gaiman is a fan of this series. It's dark, gritty, and lush. Alexandra Trese is the most iconic noir heroine I've seen. She's mysterious and ruthless, and I hope to see more of her backstory in future chapters. I'm Filipino so I'm already familiar with all the mythology here, but Tan and Baldisimo put interesting twists on the worldbuilding. Urban fantasy fans, this is for you. Volume 1 is very short but I assume it's just an introduction. Am excited for more! My only complaint is that the black and white art is more striking and haunting than the colored edition I have; I'll go for the originals when I purchase the later volumes.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Marie

    When I first browsed this komiks in its Hardbound edition, I was amazed at how the story started along with the black and white graphics (FYI: I skimmed and finished only the first 2 stories that time). I'm not sure why after buying all six individual books and having to read the first one again, the flame suddenly went out. I still had fun overall but somehow I am missing something. My fave story is the Rules of the Race. I rate Murder on Balete Drive 3.5/5. When I first browsed this komiks in its Hardbound edition, I was amazed at how the story started along with the black and white graphics (FYI: I skimmed and finished only the first 2 stories that time). I'm not sure why after buying all six individual books and having to read the first one again, the flame suddenly went out. I still had fun overall but somehow I am missing something. My fave story is the Rules of the Race. I rate Murder on Balete Drive 3.5/5.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rise

    The reference code, according to the French thinker Roland Barthes, is that mode of writing characterized by a confident appeal to a universal (or consensual) truth, or a body of shared cultural (or scientific) knowledge. This appeal can be made on a text loaded with cultural references that are constantly being alluded to, elided, or inverted. The rich commonsensical and supernatural beliefs and belief systems can be the text's sources and materials—the references. The entities which the symbol The reference code, according to the French thinker Roland Barthes, is that mode of writing characterized by a confident appeal to a universal (or consensual) truth, or a body of shared cultural (or scientific) knowledge. This appeal can be made on a text loaded with cultural references that are constantly being alluded to, elided, or inverted. The rich commonsensical and supernatural beliefs and belief systems can be the text's sources and materials—the references. The entities which the symbols fashioned after them refer to the writer's referents. The seamless integration of reference and referent constitutes an artist's repertoire of the reference code, also called the cultural code. As an example, the reference code is the mode of analysis that the critic James Wood used (in his guide book How Fiction Works and in his other review essays) in interpreting the fictional works of Leo Tolstoy and José Saramago. The writings of these two novelists are grounded in naturalism that are floating in a sea of imaginative events. The repetitive appeal of these writers to everyday-life acts and situations, including their character's surprising responses to (actual) experiences, shapes a narrative that is reference-driven. The schema and structure of their novels themselves are designed in such a way as to capture the references. Blah-blah-blah ... So what gives, this painstaking introduction? I see no reason why the reference code cannot be applied to the reading of graphic fiction. In comic books we see scenes boxed and captioned, progressing in their visual narrative through the accretion of details. Comics is a medium most receptive to the omniscient point of view, a major requirement of the free indirect style of narrative progression. Visually at least, we are privy to the introspection of the hero, the frozen details captured in a swirl of action. The illustrations and texts strive to communicate verisimilitude and references. Taken as a whole, the graphic's universe is a frieze or a tableau, built up from its constituent references and can itself be an ultimate reference point. The weird world of Trese, as written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo, is one such universe rife with mysterious happenstances and references. The Philippine mythos and legends are the references. The referents are the unusual suspects—the white lady, the tikbalang, the nuno sa punso, the Santelmo (St. Elmo's fire), and the superhero. All these figments appear in a new light. Tan and Baldisimo have successfully provided new ways of looking at their indigenous source materials even as they reinvigorate the mythos with new possibilities. It is a great credit to them that they have given a deep interpretation of Pinoy mythos in the modern setting. They have commanded deep respect to their material and sources. Take the case of the "double dead" white lady, the first case in the first volume of the series (Murder on Balete Drive). The story starts simple enough but then suddenly the weird takes a turn for the weirder. Alexandra Trese, the "para-crimes" consultant, investigates a case where a white lady was found murdered. Clearly the logic of Trese operates within a dimension where the unwritten rules of the otherworldly are meant to be violated, that is to say, where everything is possible. The goal is perhaps not so much a quarrel with clichés but peacefully working around them. After all, there will always be white ladies in Balete Drive, so we might as well permit the killing of them once in a while. The reference code here operates on the simple idea of the immortality (or rather, mortality) of ghosts. This unique variation, an inversion, is novel enough, but around this neat trick, the story is given perfectly fitting details, each of them also grounded in manipulated references—the consultation with a resettled nuno sa punso, the fine dust made from a truly exotic material, and the aswangs (ghouls). The three other cases in Trese 1 demonstrate the skillful use of the reference code. The second case ("Rules of the Race")—that of an unbeatable drag racer—is another refurbished look at a supernatural being. In the race, as in the world of Trese, there are no rules and whatever remains of the rules are to be bent. From tell-tale hoof prints found in the scene of a car accident, Alexandra Trese, aided by her opposable emoticon-masked twin sidekicks (charismatic characters, they are), begins her investigation and proceeds like a vampire, sniffing the elusive imprints of a delinquent underworld. In these cases, Ms. Trese's unearthly-like informers are "slightly" cooperative, and they hide where you least expect them: in a manhole, in a penthouse suite of a tall tower, in a spa. The fourth case ("Our Secret Constellation") is something else. It is a masterful rendition of the story of fallen heroes. Sure enough, heroes and villains here are permanent fixtures of old Pinoy comics. But what else can be gleaned from them? The genius here is in the slow realization, in the slow recognition, of the identities of characters and their tragic situation. The genius here is in how it portrays a destructive force that is love, in how it can be the true weakness of a seasoned hero, yet with another referential twist to the superhero myth: a nod to the psychological repercussions of sibling love, love that is too much, too sensitive, too loving. For strangely enough, love is a recurring theme in the first Trese installment. The fragility of love is such that it can be misguided, misdirected, and distorted. The hero is out to save the world, her willpower and dedication will propel her to achieve her objective (fight evil), but she can, will, never control the force of feelings around her. Love is a primary motive for perversion, in its varying permutations in the four cases handled by Ms. Trese. To save the world with just a swallow of a stone. How does one invert that innocent notion? That simple act, of swallowing power, can also turn innocence into monster. It is perhaps one of the greatest homages one can give to Philippine comics masters: to produce a work that is not just sheer parody of one's creations but a recreation and inversion of meanings and possibilities. It is after all in the Philippine komiks that these references are popularized. The referent-creatures may be borne by folk tales and oral traditions, but their appearance in komiks is the major instrument in the cultivation of our generation's consciousness of them, their aesthetic and their cultural value. The first four cases told in the first volume of Trese herald a new appreciation of the tradition of Philippine comics. Their creators' handling of narrative is done with glee and panache. The art work, black and white grit, illustrates a city full of seething passions and black motives. The landscapes of the supernatural and superheroes are confidently resurrected with a nudge to the impossible. The series is now at the forefront of a new interest in Pinoy comics. And it now inspires a well deserved cult following. In the byways and pathways of Trese, be it in Balete Drive or C-5, Paco or Malate, are creations and creatures which can be referred to their original templates but which, when viewed from the perspective of the reference code, will easily hold their own. In re-mystifying rather than demystifying Pinoy mythos and urban legends, Tan and Baldisimo upended an old set of references, imbued the perception of meanings with extra-sensory recognition, and created an alternative framework from which to view supernatural realities. They have replaced old spectacles with a new set of contacts. First posted in blog.

  17. 5 out of 5

    LILA

    I really enjoyed this! I love Alexandra Trese and the Kambal as well!!! more rtc maybe.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Syd

    Good start, I guess. But, Case #4 really took an unexpected turn with that twisted take on Mars Ravelo's character, Darna and Ding. I like it. Good start, I guess. But, Case #4 really took an unexpected turn with that twisted take on Mars Ravelo's character, Darna and Ding. I like it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rural Soul

    This Filipino comic series follows a female detective named Alexandra Trese with supernatural powers. The cases mentioned in this volume always have a supernatural turn. To understand these stories, reader should search further about Filipino Mythology figures. Nevertheless this volume consists of very unique ideas.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    I found my Filipina Sherlock

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sami C

    I ran across Trese while reading Alternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine Mythology, which showcased one of Budjette Tan's short story, "The Last Full Show". Trese as a character was an interesting, spunky female superhero-type detective dealing with the paranormal. I wanted to read more of her. This volume contains four "cases", all solved by the mysterious Trese, the female Filipino version of the Winchester brothers. Coincidentally, Trese's bodyguards are twins (aptly named Kambal). I ran across Trese while reading Alternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine Mythology, which showcased one of Budjette Tan's short story, "The Last Full Show". Trese as a character was an interesting, spunky female superhero-type detective dealing with the paranormal. I wanted to read more of her. This volume contains four "cases", all solved by the mysterious Trese, the female Filipino version of the Winchester brothers. Coincidentally, Trese's bodyguards are twins (aptly named Kambal). Her connections and sources include a variety of supernatural beings such as an aswang and a tikbalang. How badass is she? My favorite of all the cases is "The Tragic Case of Dr. Burgos", which was tied cleanly from start to finish. Heartbreaking and alluding to The Police's "I Burn For You". Great story. "Our Secret Constellation" also played off on an already beloved Filipino superhero. That was a surprise.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lynai

    I didn't know that I have a taste for graphic novels, until I met Alexandra Trese. More thoughts soon. ***UPDATE*** My first encounter with Alexandra Trese was when I read Manila Noir and even though I am not a die-hard fan of graphic novels, I got interested enough to read this book. I requested a friend to get me a signed copy during the Komikon and when I finally decided to read after several months, I only finished it in one sitting. What I loved about this book was how it was so distinctly Fi I didn't know that I have a taste for graphic novels, until I met Alexandra Trese. More thoughts soon. ***UPDATE*** My first encounter with Alexandra Trese was when I read Manila Noir and even though I am not a die-hard fan of graphic novels, I got interested enough to read this book. I requested a friend to get me a signed copy during the Komikon and when I finally decided to read after several months, I only finished it in one sitting. What I loved about this book was how it was so distinctly Filipino. I loved the portrayals of supernatural beings such as the tikbalang and the white lady. I also loved the mysteries that comprised each story. I am not really a visual reader because I am more drawn to the text rather than the drawings but when I did give attention to the illustrations in this book, I liked them as well. I am not so keen on reading other graphic novels in the future but I sure would love to read the succeeding books in this series because I have grown fond of Alexandra Trese. Also posted here.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    I picked this graphic novel up on my trip to the Philippines after a bit of research on the web. I particularly searched for standout stories by Filipino authors to get a sense of what the mass was currently into. I kept coming across Trese, an anthology of horror/murder stories and I couldn't resist. This first volume is mysterious and creepy and I love the unique Malate, Manila backdrop. While I thought this was a decent introduction to the series, I thought the background was lacking for a fi I picked this graphic novel up on my trip to the Philippines after a bit of research on the web. I particularly searched for standout stories by Filipino authors to get a sense of what the mass was currently into. I kept coming across Trese, an anthology of horror/murder stories and I couldn't resist. This first volume is mysterious and creepy and I love the unique Malate, Manila backdrop. While I thought this was a decent introduction to the series, I thought the background was lacking for a first volume. I would have liked more insight into our main protagonist's backstory, but I hope that is remedied in the future. I think there is a lot of potential going forward and I will pick up the second volume soon!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chachic

    I reviewed the first four graphic novels in the series on my blog. I reviewed the first four graphic novels in the series on my blog.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    Guilty pleasure: horror, sex and violence!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nick Klagge

    Recently, I got interested in learning more about Filipino folklore and mythology, mostly due to a podcast episode of This Filipino American Life where they talked about Dungeons and Dragons. I am a huge D&D fan but I think it would benefit immensely from an expansion away from a very Eurocentric fantasy world. (I am in the midst of a project to develop D&D stat blocks for a bunch of creatures from Filipino folklore!) Anyway, in going through a bunch of internet rabbit-holes, I learned about Bud Recently, I got interested in learning more about Filipino folklore and mythology, mostly due to a podcast episode of This Filipino American Life where they talked about Dungeons and Dragons. I am a huge D&D fan but I think it would benefit immensely from an expansion away from a very Eurocentric fantasy world. (I am in the midst of a project to develop D&D stat blocks for a bunch of creatures from Filipino folklore!) Anyway, in going through a bunch of internet rabbit-holes, I learned about Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo's "Trese" series. Shout-out to Arkipelago Books in San Francisco for being the only place in the US I could find the books (they are printed in the Philippines, although the authors have a current Indiegogo campaign to create a "global edition" of volume 1--which I backed and you should too!). I was able to pick up five of the six volumes from them on a recent trip to SF, and #2 is on order from an online reseller. I have almost all good things to say about the series. Baldisimo's art is really awesome. I think the books were probably done in black & white to save on cost, but I actually felt it really added to the "noir" aesthetic and I wouldn't want it in color. I love the ghostly Manila street maps that separate the different "cases," too. The incorporation of creatures from Filipino mythology into a modern urban setting is extremely well done--tikbalang, santelmo, aswang, manananggal, duwende, and so on--all are rendered with a lot of personality. It's clear that Tan gives a lot of thought into how such creatures would fit into modern Manila, rather than just positing them as bizarre exogenous phenomena. Alexandra Trese is also a very compelling main character. For me as a reader, she has just the right balance of human frailty and cool powers. (In fact, I've added to my D&D project developing an NPC stat block for her!) Alongside this, I find the books to target just the right amount of darkness for my personal taste--for example, the way Trese uses the eyeballs of dead people (or alive people!) to cast a spell to see into the recent past--without going into gratuitous or overly disturbing places. There's also a good balancing amount of humor (the duwende's preferences for chocolates from duty-free, Trese's use of the Mercuro Drug logo in healing spells). Also, although this comes out more in the later books, I think Tan does a great job of slowly letting us in on more information about Trese's history, relationships, and personality. She is definitely a bit of a classic emo-y noir character, but her personality doesn't stop there. Finally, I think it is awesome that Trese, as a female lead character in a comic book, is not (in my view) sexualized. My one substantive gripe about the books is that, for all that they are about Filipino people living in Manila, the characters don't look very phenotypically Filipino, and (to my eye) basically look white. This is probably a little bit due to the books being printed in black and white, but I don't think that is the whole story. Here is a fairly representative image of Alexandra Trese: https://www.writeups.org/wp-content/u... Overall, as a not-super-informed consumer of comics and graphic novels, my read is that Baldisimo's drawing style is influenced by anime, which generally features characters who appear white or East Asian. I do think that, in the context of a Filipino society that often valorizes whiteness, it would be awesome if the characters in these books, and Alexandra Trese in particular, bucked that trend. Having read the later books (although not #2 yet!), the stories in "Murder on Balete Drive" are not in the top tier, and it's clear that the creators are still finding their voices. I really enjoy the Afterwords in these volumes where they reflect on some of their choices or experiences in writing the books, which help a lot in understanding that evolution. In this volume, I liked "Rules of the Race" best, not least because it introduces Maliksi the tikbalang, who is a good recurring character in the series.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ocean

    In general: The plots are interesting, a bit formulaic. The dialogue can improve to be more realistic. The art is well-suited to the mood of the book. Case 1: At the Intersection of Balete and 13th Street - Right off the bat the idea of the underworld as a force that restores balance is intriguing. I'm expecting this to be a recurring theme throughout the series. Also, you can get (view spoiler)[mermaid bones from aswangs running an underground crime ring (hide spoiler)] ? Love that. Just thought In general: The plots are interesting, a bit formulaic. The dialogue can improve to be more realistic. The art is well-suited to the mood of the book. Case 1: At the Intersection of Balete and 13th Street - Right off the bat the idea of the underworld as a force that restores balance is intriguing. I'm expecting this to be a recurring theme throughout the series. Also, you can get (view spoiler)[mermaid bones from aswangs running an underground crime ring (hide spoiler)] ? Love that. Just thought the perpetrator's motive seemed a bit flimsy for the gravity of what she sacrificed and the futility of it all, but well, I guess you never really know with people. Case 2: Rules of the Race - I really like this one. The interpretation of the myth in question for the modern setting is so unique and I'm such a fan of how it was presented here. Who else would have thought of a (view spoiler)[tikbalang who wants to prove himself, so he disguises himself to participate in drag racing (hide spoiler)] like what? Ugh, Budjette Tan's mind. I love the art especially in the scenes with the (view spoiler)[tikbalang chief and the race between Trese and the young tikbalang where his glamour was unveiled (hide spoiler)] . Case 3: The Tragic Case of Dr. Burgos - First thing I notice is the art. Really stands out in this case in particular. Nothing much to say about the storyline. It was fine, I feel like I'm just not a fan in general of plots driven by that type of motivation like, (view spoiler)[dude you deserve better, just move on. Also stop killing random innocent people for that, the fuck. Then again, there's a reason why this type of thing (the cheating, not the killing) is so recurrent in plots and who am I to judge others, really. But also, if a person cheats how much does s/he really love the other person? I know it's not black-and-white but it's time we stop normalizing cheating and start normalizing communication if there are problems in the relationship or if you feel the urge to act on your attraction to other people, hello? Once again, don't cheat (hide spoiler)] ! Case 4: Our Constellation - What a twist about a certain character's identity! Just how wide is the scope of Trese's universe? Anyway, this one made me kind of sad. And the worst thing is the plot revolves around something that isn't at all confined in the pages of this book; these things happen in reality, and more often than not justice is left wanting. Some people just deserve to rot, and (view spoiler)[I'm glad the rapists got what they deserved in this one, but saddened at the cost. They got what they deserved not because of the (broken) justice system that favors the rich and powerful but because of a young boy's love and sacrifice for his sister and that's so fucked up (hide spoiler)] . Just a thought: as someone who just got into Philippine contemporary fiction, it's so cool to read stories, especially of this fascinating genre and caliber, set in places I know or I've been to. Like it's very cool to visualize and to think, whoa, that's not so far away from where I am right now. I also thought of this partly because I've lived my entire life in the province until now, and not a lot of contemporary and easy-to-find published fiction is set where I'm from (something that will hopefully change in the future). I'm so excited to explore the rest of this universe with Alexandra Trese and her motley crew.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joselle

    Trese by Budjete Tan is the first Filipino comic I've read that's been translated into English. Living in America specifically California, it's rare to find Filipino comics more so those translated in English. The only other comic I found was Mythology Class by Arnold Arre. This comic has been difficult to purchase outside of the Philippines. If I were to describe to someone, I'd say it's similar to Fables by Bill Willingham where fairytale creatures and humans live together in present-day New Y Trese by Budjete Tan is the first Filipino comic I've read that's been translated into English. Living in America specifically California, it's rare to find Filipino comics more so those translated in English. The only other comic I found was Mythology Class by Arnold Arre. This comic has been difficult to purchase outside of the Philippines. If I were to describe to someone, I'd say it's similar to Fables by Bill Willingham where fairytale creatures and humans live together in present-day New York. It's the same concept except with mythological creatures from Filipino myths/folktales and set in Manila. Here's the basic set up for this comic, It starts with a myth like the White Lady on Balete Drive. After a short introduction, the main character Trese is brought in to investigate the case. During the investigation, she contacts various creatures from different myths as the aswang. At the end, a journal entry pops up from her father Anton giving further background and possible whereabouts. He was a panormal investigator before his death. The art style gives off a crime noir style because the comic is done in black and white style. In addition, the characters are drawn with realistic proportions. This style makes Trese stand out in contrast to manga and Western comic books. The integration of Filipino phrases along with English words adds to Trese' worldbuilding. As a first volume, this comic is fun and serves a good introduction to Filipino myths. I look forward to reading future volumes. 5 stars.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Caryl Jannie Lazo

    I learned about the Trese series through an article talking about its future Netlfix anime adaptation. Being a big anime fan and manga junkie, I just had to read this series before the adaptation comes out. I managed to find the first book, Murder on Balete Drive, online and I hope to get the rest of the books in the near future. Murder on Balete Drive is the first book of the Trese series which follows the police consultant, Alexandra Trese, as she solves crime mysteries that are linked to Phil I learned about the Trese series through an article talking about its future Netlfix anime adaptation. Being a big anime fan and manga junkie, I just had to read this series before the adaptation comes out. I managed to find the first book, Murder on Balete Drive, online and I hope to get the rest of the books in the near future. Murder on Balete Drive is the first book of the Trese series which follows the police consultant, Alexandra Trese, as she solves crime mysteries that are linked to Philippine mythology and folklore. Alexandra Trese is the epitome of "small but terrible." She is badass, resourceful and is so good with her job. I love how she's thriving in a work that is mostly dominated by men. Also, she has mythical sidekicks/ assistants/ bodyguards called the "Kambal" (twins in Filipino), they also play as comic relief in the story and I find them very endearing. I also love the art style, lines are well defined and clean. Overall, I liked Trese. I give the first book four stars because I feel that the first book, was not able to show the background of the main character or atleast a glimpse of it. But I do know that as Trese series progress, readers will learn more about Alexandra.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Magsi Rover

    It was as delightful as well as it was intriguing. I've heard about TRESE a couple of years ago, however I never managed to find enough time to sit down in a corner and read it. Now, as I pave my way into my writing (both as an indie-author and perhaps, one day one of the few comic-writers in our country). TRESE has earned its place in my heart. Growing up, I've always been a fan of anime/manga and western comics/graphic novels and cartoons, but it never meant that I'd be picky when it comes to It was as delightful as well as it was intriguing. I've heard about TRESE a couple of years ago, however I never managed to find enough time to sit down in a corner and read it. Now, as I pave my way into my writing (both as an indie-author and perhaps, one day one of the few comic-writers in our country). TRESE has earned its place in my heart. Growing up, I've always been a fan of anime/manga and western comics/graphic novels and cartoons, but it never meant that I'd be picky when it comes to our local graphic/comic scene. But, the resources from way back then was barely existent and I'm just really glad for the changing times because I am able to do this. Write a review about my new favorite comic/graphic novel book. TRESE with all the murder, mayhem, mystery and light to dark humor quickly won over my heart. On top of it all, among all the reviews that I've heard about TRESE, I don't think I can ever stress this statement any further. BUDJETTE TAN and KAJO BALDISIMO tandem for the win!

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