I was never really a big fan of comics. I remember reading the comics of my brother when I was younger, but that was mainly because I had run out of interesting things to read at home. A classmate gave me a quasi graphic novel in the 6th grade, I think, and I say quasi because it was the size of a Sweet Valley Twins book, drawn in black and white, but ended on a cliffhanger. Google informs me that graphic novels are like novels but with images, so that book/graphic novel was part of a series like comics, but it was as long as a novel. Uh, I think that was a bit confusing even for me to explain. I sincerely apologize for my ignorance of proper terminologies here. I’m trying hard to understand, and I think I do, but I’m doing a terrible job of explaining in my own words, aren’t I?
Anyway, since I wanted to expose myself to Philippine Literature more, I went to the Manila International Book Fair with the sole intention of buying more Phil.Lit. books than foreign ones. I wasn’t content on buying just teacher reference materials and the Likhaan Anthology, so I browsed around the MIBF site and saw that they had a book signing for Trese comics. My interest piqued, I Googled it and found it quite interesting. I decided to get all four volumes (assuming that it fit my budget).
Trese was about Alexandra Trese who was a consultant for the local police when they were faced with deaths that didn’t seem natural or logical. She can speak to local folklore creatures like the nuno sa punso (who relocated to a manhole; nice touch, if I may add), tikbalang, aswang, and others. I found the stories, which were divided into case chapters, very informative. I was aware of the creatures, but the stories told me more about how each one behaved and what they look like. The integration of the creatures into modern life and the allusions to real life people, places, events, and even urban legends were done brilliantly. And here I will have to apologize again because that’s pretty much all I can say given my lack of proper comic book/graphic novel/Philippine supernatural creatures knowledge. What I can tell you right now is that you should get yourself a copy of ALL the volumes like I did because the purchase is definitely worth it.
I really appreciate what the creators (Budjette Tan/Kajo Baldisimo) did with this series. They made traditional folklore relevant, interesting, and exciting again. I hope there will be more volumes in the future.