Alexandra Trese is the main character of the komiks series Trese, created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. She’s a detective that specializes in crimes with supernatural origin. The setting is in modern day Metro Manila. Creatures from Filipino folklore—the white lady, nuno sa punso, tikbalang and kapre, among other—are brought to life and reintegrated in the modern setting, still around but still inconspicuously hidden.
The sixth child of Anton and Miranda, she was born with contradicting prophecies hanging over her head. Different psychics, including her mother, have predicted she would bring great change to the underworld, the place where creatures of myth and folklore reside.
The supernatural has always piqued my interest but what got me writing is how badass Trese is. She deviates from the usual main character—doesn’t fight for the good but simply restores balance. She is a detective that specializes in the supernatural along with her two bodyguards, Crispin and Basilio, who stay vigilant in case some inexplicable occurrence pops up.
As the guardian and keeper, Trese’s connections run deep. She’s made allies with the local police, Capt. Guerero and his deputy Tapia; with the tikbalangs of the city and the head of their herd, Senor Armanaz; with wargods, Darago and Darraga; elementals, Hannah and Amie; the local cat lady, Manang Muning, and other powerful beings behind the scenes.
Along with her martial prowess and tactical intuition, Alexandra has a huge range of abilities shown in the komiks. First, her ability to extract the last thing someone saw by using their eyeball and mixing it with a glass of water, after which she utters her spell, revealing the image when the liquid is poured on a cloth.
She is also able to summon a santelmo, a fire elemental, by dialing the exact date of the Great Binondo fire. She uses a healing spell that rapidly increases the rate of natural healing, a spell that stops the time for a person and she can also talk to a spirit by channeling their essence through a wax candle, until the candle burns out. So far, from all the abilities shown, the one that is the most mysterious is her use of the Dragon’s gate, which can teleport the user to most places in the city but can only be used by a dragon, or someone who has ingested dragon’s blood.
Trese is a supernatural reinvented to cope with the changing times. The stories of Budjette Tan will make you wonder if he was there to document each event of his stories and the art of Kajo Baldisimo will make you crave for more. Trese is now on its sixth book (still waiting for a seventh) with a separate collection of short stories titled Stories from the Diabolical.
“When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.”