Many of the locations featured in the graphic novel Trese, by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldissimo and depicted in the Netflix anime adaptation, are inspired by real-life locations around Metro Manila.
The opening sequence of the series shows everyday scenes that will instantly feel very familiar to Philippine viewers.
In the Netflix special Trese After Dark, Tan shared how they tried to inject a "little bit of magic" to the metro on the comic book page, which translated to the series, making us see places we normally take for granted in a whole different light.
Still on a high from watching Trese?
Here’s a roundup of just a few of the most iconic locations featured in the world of Trese that you can actually visit in real life.
Balete Drive & 13th Street
Balete Drive is a residential avenue in the eastern part of New Manila in Qeuzon City that was named after a gigantic tree that used to stand in the middle of the road. In Philippine folklore, balete trees are often believed to be a home for spirits and mythical creatures. This infamous road has long been the subject of urban legends linked to the ghostly apparition of a white lady.
This road is the setting of Alexandra Trese’s very first case “At the Intersection of Balete Drive and 13th Street” in the graphic novel that came out in 2005, and is the crime scene location in the first episode of the Netflix series.
While the road is mainly a residential area, you can find some notable cafes and business establishments along the street, such as an antique shop called Bahay Sentenaryo.
Balete Drive connects the long span between E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue and N. Domingo Street in Quezon City. Crossing E. Rod, the road extends to a small alley in front of the headquarters of the broadsheet, BusinessWorld.
Balete Drive doesn’t actually intersect with 13th Street, which runs parallel to nearby Gilmore Avenue and Broadway Avenue.
The whole New Manila neighborhood has a number of stately old mansions like Villa Caridad, an eclectic Mediterranean-styled house built back in the 1930s, that would look right at home in the Trese-verse.
ABS-CBN is a major broadcast television and media network with headquarters located along Mother Ignacia Avenue and Sgt. Esguerra Drive in Quezon CIty.
Last Friday (June 11), the broadcast network got a fictional makeover to promote the show Trese. As part of Netlifx’s marketing campaign, the facade of the Eugenio Lopez Jr. (ELJ) building inside the ABS-CBN compound was illuminated in red and spelled out “Trese” using the windows the night the show premiered.
BREAKING: Trese has officially taken over ABC-ZNN!!! pic.twitter.com/51UdClxjqD— Netflix Philippines (@Netflix_PH) June 11, 2021
The network's metallic logo atop its ELJ Communications Center building was also covered with a black signage with the letters “ABC-ZNN” in white.
“ABC-ZNN” is a play on the media company’s name as drawn in the graphic novel case “A Little Known Murder in Studio 4” and featured in the third episode of the Netflix series, and news reports shown in the series.
While the lighting up of windows was done for one night only, if you’re passing by this street, look out for a mural featuring tiyanaks along Mother Ignacia Avenue right across the television station. The promotional tarp shows the demon-babies depicted in the anime breaking out from the wall.
The opening scene of Trese begins with a very familiar scene of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) train breaking down in between stations, forcing passengers to walk along the train tracks. But in a Trese twist, passengers are attacked by a horde of aswangs who climb the railway.
The MRT and its 13 stations were the focus of the graphic novel case “Thirteen stations” when Alexandra found out that Ibbu, the Goddess of Death would ferry spirits into the afterlife using the train.
Anyone who has had to endure riding the MRT during rush hour, lining up for hours and having to stand and crowd with other commuters, will know first-hand what a real-life horror our whole public transportation system is like. No aswangs needed.
C-5 or Circumferential Road 5 is a network of roads that connects the cities of Las Piñas, Makati, Paranaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, Taguig, and Valenzuela.
This highway is the main setting of the comics’ second case “Rules of the Race” where Alexandra first meets the tikbalang Maliksi during a street race. The same story is featured in the second episode of the series.
While nowadays, it’s no longer possible to do any drag racing with the horrendous traffic of C-5, the story is said to inspired by the street racing culture in the late '90s to early 2000’s when C-5 was still new.
As explained in Through the Dragon Gate: The Trese Online Tourby Wander Manila, street racers would actually shut down streets in Metro Manila in the early hours of the morning to conduct illegal drag racing here. Aside from C5 Libis, drag races were also staged on Sucat Road in Parañaque, Marcos Highway in Marikina, Temple Drive and University Avenue, both in Quezon City.
Manila South Cemetery
The Manila South Cemetery is an exclave of San Andres, Manila surrounded by land under the jurisdiction of the city of Makati. This cemetery located in the middle of a thriving business district is known for being home to a community of informal settlers who have lived there for generations.
The Trese comic book case number 6 “The Outpost on Kalayaan Street” serves as the main source material for Netflix’s fourth episode, which features a zombie attack on the lone police outpost where not much crime normally happens.
People flock at the Manila South Cemetery on Friday to visit their departed loved ones. pic.twitter.com/rbrol7M1Vf— The Philippine Star (@PhilippineStar) November 1, 2019
In the comics, The Diabolical is depicted as the metro's hottest club owned by Alexandra Trese. The bar is considered as a safe haven for creatures of all shapes and sizes, and mythical creatures like Dwendes can enjoy a drink or two here.
While The Diabolical doesn’t really exist, the building it was based on (at least in the comics) is apparently real. The facade of the building in the animated series looks a bit more modern compared to its comics counterpart.
According to Wander Manila's Trese online tour, the look of the club in the comics was based on Amazonia Bar, a popular establishment along M. H. del Pilar street in the district of Malate.
During its heyday, Amazonia Bar and Cafe used to be a popular bar for expats and tourists in Ermita. The building also used to have a hotel on the 3rd floor called Hotel Amazonia.
Don’t expect to share any drinks with mythical creatures here any time soon though, as the bar is listed as permanently closed on Google Maps.
Other buildings and landmarks
Netizens have been sharing cityscapes of the buildings of Roxas Boulevard across Manila Bay, the view of De la Rosa Avenue in Makati from its elevated walkway, Ortigas skyline with mountains of Rizal in the distance,side by side for comparison.
Magna Mall is of a stand-in for Megamall and the building where Alexandra meets Bagyon Lektro and Kulimlim bears an uncanny resemblance to the Meralco Building in Ortigas.
The Armanaz Tower, which was made to look like the Ayala Tower One in the comics, looks more like the BSA Tower with its signature pyramid top.
For viewers, part of the fun of watching Trese is recognizing the familiar landmarks and spotting distinctly Filipino references in this medium.
Trese and Trese After Dark are currently streaming on Netflix.
(Images copyright to their respective owners)