Attending the Free Comic Book Day – Setting the Record in 2013 led to the discovery of Trese: Last Seen After Midnight. Little did I know that this simple yet appealing black-and-white cover would lead to a fascinating world? Foul play. Magic spells. Supernatural criminals. When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.
Alexandra Trese is the sixth child of the sixth child, the child of paradox and possibilities. She is, so to speak, the city’s warrior and the city’s healer, a mandirigmang-babaylan. The first book I read is the fourth one. I know weird, right? It should be number 1 first and then 2, 3 and 4. Of course, I know how to count.
Please, allow me to explain.
It was May 4th; the day people call Star Wars Day. Aside from that, it was also Free Comic Book Day – Setting the Record. I was at the 4th floor of National Bookstore in Quezon Avenue. It was my first time attending a comic book event. I did not know what to expect. All I know is that I should be there early to grab my THREE FREE comic books. Finally after 30 minutes of waiting in line, I was able to enter the venue and grab my free comics.
While exploring, something caught my eye. I clutched my Marvel comic books and walked towards the display of black-and-white graphic novels. For some unknown reason, I kept staring at a girl with weird bangs that framed her face resembling a demon. She is wearing clothes that reminded me of Jose Rizal. And she was between two guys where one was wearing a sad mask and the other a happy one. They seemed like armed bodyguards who are always ready and excited to fight.
I didn’t bother to check the other books or to check what volume I was holding because I have already decided.
A Whole New World
Thought you knew or saw everything? In Alexandra’s world, it’s all different. What you thought was an earthquake, a storm or a crime, actually involves creatures of Philippine mythology. As written by Budjette Tan, the author of Trese comics:
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.
And when this happens, Captain Guerrero always calls Alexandra Trese. She uses magic and her connection from the supernatural world to solve crimes and protect her beloved city. The Kambal (the two guys wearing masks) are also there to help and protect her.
Reading Trese Book 4 reminded me of my love for Pinoy horror stories. I used to read the ones about aswang and manananggal. In high school, I read True Philippine Ghost Stories which was widely popular among my peers. Apart from that, I also loved watching the earlier Shake, Rattle & Roll films.
However, I became tired of it.
I searched for something different and turned to Stephen King and foreign series such as Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps, Scooby Doo, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, So Weird, Charmed, and Martin Mysteries.
Though interesting and good, there are things the latter creations cannot give me. For instance, the “I can relate” line. Reading Trese brought back my interest in Pinoy horror stories like the The Aswang Chronicles. Trese taught me to love our culture, our stories, and our city. The series increased my appreciation of our mythology and folklore.
Thanks to Budjette Tan who was able to capture and unite these creatures and to KaJo Baldisimo whose art keeps getting better. It was his art that caught my attention in the first place. Moreover, Budjette did not only give us the creatures we know or heard of. He also gave us Trese and opened a whole new world, a secret world. It is like possessing a third eye, plus the cool artworks and narrative. We see something extraordinary, something magical.
Indeed, Trese is a Graphic Literature Filipinos will be proud of. Thanks to Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo for sharing this remarkable creation.
I bought Book 4 Last Seen After Midnight during the Free Comic Book Day – Setting the Record in 2013. As of February last year, I was able to have the following:
Just last month, I was able to purchase the latest Trese, Book 6 High Tide at Midnight.