Netflix’s adaptation of the graphic novel Trese introduced Filipino culture and mythology to international audiences. For Filipino fans, however, Philippine lore set against the backdrop of modern-day Metro Manila is both familiar and nostalgic.
The series follows occult detective Alexandra Trese as she goes around the city solving crimes, slaying monsters and trying to maintain balance between the real world and the underworld.
If you're trying to keep tabs of the monsters in Trese, stop baying for blood because we've got you covered!
Here’s a rundown of some of the Philippines' iconic supernatural creatures in the series.
Spoiler alert: Minor spoilers ahead if you have not caught up with the series.
Nuno sa Punso
In Philippine folklore, the nuno sa punso ("old man of the mound") is a dwarf-like monster who lives in an anthill or termite mound. Trese’s take on this is more urban, instead of living in a mound, the character “Nuno” lives in the sewers, often appearing from under a manhole cover to talk to Alexandra.
The white lady is undoubtedly the most well-known of the Treseverse’s ghostly inhabitants.
All countries have their own version of an urban legend about a ghost lady dressed in white. In the Philippines, the most famous is the White Lady of Balete Drive. Trese attempted to give the infamous white lady her own backstory.
The tikbalang is a mythical creature said to be living in Philippines mountains and jungles. Somewhat similar to a centaur, the anthropomorphic creature is supposedly half-human and half-horse. It is a tall, humanoid creature with the head and hooves of a horse and disproportionately long limbs, to the point that its knees reach above its head when it squats down. They are trickster creatures notorious for leading travelers astray.
Trese plays homage to this by making the character of tikbalang prince, Maliksi, a drag-racer in his human form. Maliksi oftens morphs back to his tikbalang form, causing his opponents to crash.
The aswang is the most well-known monster in the country. In Filipino legend, aswang refers to a variety of shape-shifting evil monsters such as vampires, ghouls, witches, and werebeasts.
In the series, Trese faces different tribes of aswangs who have distinct physical features. They live in the underbelly of Manila as organized gangs, making shady deals with corrupt officials and trafficking humans that they feed on.
Balete trees or strangler figs are a type of fig that begins by entangles itself around trees, eventually taking over and killing the host tree. In Filipino superstition, the cutting down of Balete trees brings bad luck, and sometimes even death, because they are the dwelling place of supernatural beings such as tikbalang and diwata. As seen in Trese, they are often the site for magical rituals.
Have you had any encounters with these creatures? Let us know in the comments section.
Don't forget to watch Trese on Netflix. Here's a sneak peak!
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.
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