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Tabi Tabi Po

‘Trese’ – What you need to know before diving into the anime

By Rebekah Ilo Published Jun 11, 2021 5:00 pm

Netflix has finally announced the arrival of the long-awaited adaptation of Trese.

The award-winning comic book that the anime is based on had its humble beginnings as a photocopied ashcan that was sold for P30. And now, we can finally stream it on our TV screens.

But before you dive deep into the darker side of Manila, we made a small primer on what Trese is about, and what you can expect when watching.

The anime is about Alexandra Trese, a bar proprietress/occult detective going around Manila, solving mysteries when crime takes a turn for the weird. With her trusty bodyguards, The Kambal, she’ll be hunting down kapre kingpins and enkantos who slip through cracks and steal your most valuable possessions.

Let’s take a look at the faces you’ll get used to seeing in the series:


Alexandra Trese

Alexandra Trese is the person to call when crimes have taken a turn for the weird. She’s an occult detective that helps solve crimes that have some element of being compromised or caused by a supernatural being, such as the missing people from the MRT. She is also the babaylang-mandirigma, a prophesied healer and warrior who is destined to keep the two worlds balanced.

The Kambal

The two men tailing behind Alexandra are her loyal bodyguards, The Kambal. And for those who watched the Tagalog trailer, their namesake are the siblings from Noli Me Tangere. To tell them apart, the one in the gloomy mask is Crispin, the older twin with short hair. And Basilio is the one in a happy mask, and has longer hair. These mysterious gunmen are always ready to back up their Bossing when the going gets tough.

Captain Guererro

So you’ve heard his voice in the beginning of the trailer, telling Alex about the piles of missing persons reports in the MRT. And that was Captain Guererro, the police chief who handles all the cases, and sorts out which ones Alex should investigate. He’s the Commissioner Gordon to Alex’s Batman.

Hank Sparrow

This guy is Alexandra’s trusty bartender, Hank. He’s been serving the Trese family for quite some time. And he always has his shotgun with him! A fun trivia for you, he’s based on a real person!


Now that you’ve met the recurring characters, let’s look at the different creatures from Philippine Mythology that you’ll encounter when watching the show. Trese showcases different creatures belonging to tribes and clans. They’ll cause all kinds of trouble or help Trese with her cases. Take a peek at some of the beings that go bump in the night in Manila:


The nuno in Trese have transferred from living on anthills to residing underneath manholes. But you still need to greet them with a “Tabi tabi po,” before passing by.


No longer content with running around forests and mountains, the tikbalang have resided in urban areas and relegated themselves to racing in the streets with supernatural speed and strength.

Wind Elementals

You don’t need to whistle to summon these wind spirits, these girls are flighty, excitable, and love anything that has to do with speed. They’ll help out with anything that they find daring and fast.


According to lore, Santelmos are balls of fire that lead people astray, especially in forested areas. In Trese, they’re one of her strongest allies, and can be summoned when needed. So if you need to commit arson real quick, they’re literally one call away.


Still as terrifying as ever, the aswang have snuck around, consuming human flesh on the sly, and have continued to do so, even in the city. Unfortunately for them, Alexandra’s not having any of their cannibalistic tendencies and vows to take them down if found eating people.


Watch your feet! Tiyanaks are still those creepy little baby zombies that will chomp you up! They squeeze into tight, dark corners of places that you think are safe.


With Trese originally being in comic book form, there’s going to be a comparison of how the anime brought the black and white issues to life. So, how did the trailer hold up with the original? Very well, actually.

The anime took a lot of liberties (as any great adaptation does) in converting the comic book into the big screen, and many fans of the comic easily recognized the stories that the anime took from. From the opening scene at the MRT, to the scene where Alex is sitting on a throne. Let’s analyze certain scenes from the trailer and see what remained and what changed:

Scene 1: The Train in Guadalupe Station/ Thirteen Stations


So the first scenes are taken from a standalone story called Thirteen Stations, it’s a great introduction to the dreary side of Manila if you’re new to the series, and probably why it’s one of the first scenes that sets the stage for the trailer.

Scene 2: Good Evening, Little Trese!


Lifted from the first story of the first book, this scene was taken from At the Intersection of Balete Drive and 13th Street. This scene was met with surprise by those who have read the books. The Nuno in the manhole has a more goblin-like appearance compared to the bug-eyed, scruffy, ugly-cute humanoid he originally was.

Scene 3: The Balete Tree


Another scene that was lifted from the books is the scene with the Great Balete Tree. This scene is pivotal to Alexandra Trese’s backstory, and that’s all we have to say about it. It’s going to be one of the most epic things that one will witness in both the books and the anime.

Scene 4: The Basement Parking Lot


This scene was taken from the second book’s story, Embrace of the Unwanted. Although the anime scene has a different variation from the comic, the doctor you see there was much older and unarmed when she entered the parking basement.

Scene 5: Evil! Alexandra


Now this scene is a direct lift from a panel itself, as Alexandra is sitting on a throne of bones in the anime (and comics Alexandra possibly prefers comfort since she’s in a LA-Z boy). Take this scene at face value, because it says a lot about what’s to come for our favorite occult detective.

If you’re curious as to what stories will be on the anime (or just want to stay ahead of the curve), there’s a fanmade website that compiled the available stories online (posted by Budjette Tan himself, on the original Trese blogspot) right over here.

If you want to read the entire series, you can buy the books at Avenida Books’ official site, and Shopee. Updates about the anime are available in the official page here, and the official fangroup here.

(Images from Netflix and Visprint/Avenida Books)