‘Trese’ on Netflix: Here’s our wishlist

Iñigo De Paula

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‘Trese’ on Netflix: Here’s our wishlist
Here’s what we’re hoping to see in the planned Netflix adaptation

The news that Netflix is producing an animated series based on Trese, the much-loved comics series by writer Budjette Tan and artist Kajo Baldisimo, was one of the biggest developments in the local comics scene.

Trese focuses on the paranormal investigator Alexandra Trese as she stomps around Manila’s supernatural underworld. While Netflix hasn’t given out much information, it’s never too early to speculate and start wish-listing.

Here’s what we’re hoping to see in the planned Netflix adaptation:

Pinoy superhero cameos/easter eggs

Budjette once mentioned that he doesn’t do a whole lot of world-building. But whether Budjette intended to or not, he has created a rich tapestry that characters from other books could inhabit.

Trese itself is no stranger to the odd cameo from local comic book characters. Here’s hoping that the Netflix series continues that tradition — it would be a great tribute to elder komikeros, and gives the global audience a peek into the Filipino comics canon.

Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo involved in series development

There isn’t a whole lot of info on the series just yet, but what we do know looks pretty promising. Jay Oliva, a Filipino-American artist with extensive experience working for Marvel and DC, is set to direct and executive-produce Trese. It would be awesome if Budjette and Kajo are also onboard to help shepherd the project along — after all, this is their baby.

It’s a great time for creator-owned comic titles. (Trese is published by Alamat Comics, which Budjette co-founded.) Having Budjette and Kajo on-board to develop the series would give a massive boost to the reputation of local comic creators. And speaking of local talent…

Get local writers to write episodes

The local literary scene has a long-standing tradition of producing excellent horror and speculative works. Writers like Dean Alfar, Yvette Tan, and even Budjette himself, would be ideal candidates for penning episodes.

Maintain the Filipino-ness of the stories

The environments and social interactions within the pages of Trese are fully-realized and credible. (It totally makes sense for an urban nuno sa punso to move out of the punso and into the imburnal.) While it would be impossible to create a Trese series without focusing on local myths and folklore, I’m hoping none of these elements are diluted for international viewers.

Small details like one of the Kambal referring to Alexandra as “bosing” and the names of certain streets may not affect the main narrative, but they contextualize these stories. They firmly establish that these are our stories.

And besides, the world was willing to learn words like Yggdrasil, Mjölnir, and Bifröst. It should have no problem learning the names of our supernatural entities.

Preserve the noir aesthetic of the comics

Kajo’s art, which recalls Frank Miller, portrays a gritty vision of Manila. Like the real Manila, the Manila in Trese has distinct social layers — you’ve got the aforementioned sewer-dwelling nuno, while aswangs run their own seedy nightclub. It’s all wonderfully noir. Let’s hope Jay Oliva takes cues from Japanese shows such as Soultaker, Darker Than Black, Psycho Pass, and 91 Days, which do excellent jobs of blending noir-like atmospheres with action.

Tackle contemporary issues

While Trese has never been overtly political, the books have had a few sly references to our political past — The Madame, one of Alexandra’s antagonists, bears a striking resemblance to a certain Imeldific former first lady. The timing is right for the show to make a few nods (or shakes of the head) to some recent events and issues.

A kickass comic needs a kickass soundtrack

If you’re as ancient as me, you would remember the hype surrounding Whilce Portacio’s Stone comic back in the late 90s. Part of that hype was stirred up by the soundtrack, which featured local acts like Wolfgang, Razorback, and Chill alongside international bands like Korn and Incubus.

Trese deserves a similarly awesome soundtrack as well. But this time, there’s no need to add foreign acts. We’ve got enough local talent to supply Alexandra with a kickass soundtrack while she goes on her adventures. –


 Iñigo de Paula is a writer who lives and works in Quezon City. When he isn’t talking about himself in the third person, he writes about pop culture and its peripheries.


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