Trese: Murder at Balete Drive by Budjette Tan, Art by Kajo Baldisimo
Summary from Tresekomix:
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 the crime takes a trun 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
I have always espressed my love for mythology. Particularly Greek, Norse, and Roman. I never really gave considerable thought as to how rich our local mythology is. Now, as I read through Trese, I remember all those stories from our house help about mananaggals and aswangs taking the form of humans in their town's "pabayle" (dance). Then there's the tobacco smoking kapre up in the tree that is right beside our house, according to my mother that is. While the stories did scare me, it came back to haunt my mom when I had to crawl and squeeze into their bed and they had to endure a night of being uncomfortable as I sleep spread eagled.
I am not really well acquainted with local graphic novels but I think the illustrations are amazing. I like it being in black and white, it has an added sinister effect. Alexandra Trese is a kick-ass character. She doesn't even flinch at all those aswangs, and all the blood, and gore. I have a bit of a crush on the kambal, her bodyguards who are twins. They are as cool, calm, and collected as their boss and they float on air! Various Filipino mythological characters are showcased, some I know, some I don't. But it made me want to do a research on them so I could know more.
The entire book is divided into 4 separate cases/stories which is fine with me save for the fact that I seem to want more. I wasn't fond of Case 1, I do wish the story could have been explored a wee bit. My favorites were Case 2 and Case 4. Case 2 because I am familair with the tikbalang as it was also used a lot to scare me back when I was a kid. But not only that, I found the story really exciting and loved the fact that Trese put one over the tikbalang racer. As for Case 4, my mouth was gaping open in the end. I didn't expect it at all. It is a lovely tribute. As to for whom I'll leave it for you to discover. I do wonder how it would go if Trese would have one whole story instead of separate cases.
Trese is brilliant. I'm swelling with pride for Tan and Baldisimo and for Filipino Literature. I will surely get the rest of the series.
Electromagnetic Tentacle will be releasing limited edition graphic tees of TRESE. For more details check out this link: EMT and TRESE.