TRESE in Supreme/Phil.Star

Lucky 13
READ NOW By J. Vincent Sarabia Ong
Philippine Star, SUPREME, August 1, 2009

The number thirteen doesn’t need to be unlucky. This is true for Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo’s comic book Trese that has gained an occult following and sold over 8,000 copies in Powerbooks alone. Trese follows the adventures of private investigator Alexandra Trese and his bodyguards, the Kambals, who investigate the not-so-friendly aswangs and tikbalangs in your neighborhood.

Although this column has already spotlighted Trese last October, I was able to catch up with its writer Budjette Tan in his National Book Development Board (NBDB) talk about his creature creations at Filipinas Heritage Library last Saturday. The number 13 has been good luck for its creator as Trese has goose-bumped its way into many readers’ nightmares. This includes being the first comic book to be reviewed by the NBDB. For those who missed the talk, Budjette revealed many things for fans to scream about, including clues about book 3. Enjoy the 13 sacred elemental facts about Trese below that will keep you up at night.

• Unknown fame: In college, Budjette Tan and his friends worked on a one-hour radio show called The World of the Unknown. It aired on 990RT-AM with his friends Mark Gatela, Bow Guerrero, JB “Taps” Tapia, and Arnold Arre. They told ghost stories during that hour under the alias Anton Trese. Budjette’s inspiration for these stories came from meeting a witch doctor as a kid. Also, Budjette used to live in a haunted house. (NOTE: yes, we did live in a haunted house, but I never got to meet that "witch doctor"/mang gagamot/ mang tatawas. My mom just told me about it and describe the rituals of the mang tatawas to me. And when that occured I was already in college-- although, I did act like a kid during thoses time. And I still do. --budjette)

• A woman’s touch: Alexandra Trese was originally supposed to be tabloid reporter Anton Trese. The creators decided to make the lead a woman to give the story a new perspective. Budjette says that with a female star, the crimes would be solved with more finesse than a bloody rampage.

• Extreme cases: The single-case format was influenced by CSI. The creators wanted to focus on the cases and seek character clues along the way. Also, they were fascinated with hooking readers with the extreme motivations of its supernatural criminals. For instance, how far would Darna’s brother go to protect his sister, Budjette says.

• Babies in bins: The story of the unwanted tiyanaks in mall parking lots was based on Budjette Tan’s old habit of leaving creepy mall basement parking areas in the late evening after watching the last movie showing with friends.

• Kambals: Budjette says that their team works because they understand the pace of the advertising industry where they both work in. Also, Kajo is able to experiment with Budjette’s free-flowing agency type scripts.

• Freaky film: Trese has been invited to be a feature film or even a short web episode. However, the creators will decide on greenlighting these projects after their third book establishes Alexandra Trese’s past.

• Creepy curriculum: A St. Scholastica and La Salle teacher have used Trese in their literature classes. At UP, a fan convinced his teacher to take up the comic book in a class discussion. Budjette says that he is always bewitched by the unintentional meanings that are unearthed from these classrooms.

• Ordinary oddities: Budjette collects weird newspaper clippings of real suspicious crimes in his Metro Crime Scene blog (

• Devilish writings: Short stories about Alexandra’s bar The Diabolical can be found in

• Trese twitters: Read Alexandra Trese’s twitter messages at

• Ghoul local: The creators get e-mails from around the country asking for their provincial monsters to be featured in Trese, such as a special type of aswangs known only in their area.

• Treselogy: Book 3 will reveal the truth behind the Kambals and Trese’s past. Also, there will be the first story arc for the series in the book. However, Trese won’t investigate matters of the heart anytime soon. Book 3 will be out this September/October.

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Trese is available at Powerbooks and local comic bookstores.

(ADDENDUM: In the printed version of this article, the Kevin Smith photo was taken by Quark Henares.)