Trese: The Filipino Folklore Behind Netflix’s New Anime

Trese, Netflix‘s new anime, introduces us to Alexandra Trese, a mandirigmang-babaylan—aka a warrior-shaman—who assists the Metro Manila police in fixing supernatural crimes. Primarily based on an award-winning Filipino comedian by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, the collection combines city fantasy noir and the bloody horror of Southeast Asia.

For followers from the Philippines and of the Filipino diaspora, the inspiration for the present’s setting and worldbuilding might be acquainted and nostalgic. For different viewers, it could be contemporary and distinctive. Actually, for many individuals, Trese could be the first collection they’ve ever watched that’s set within the Philippines and that options components from the nation’s wealthy folklore.

Talking of which, if you happen to’re taken with studying extra in regards to the Filipino folklore featured in Trese, don’t fear. We acquired you. However first, let’s go over some fundamentals. The Philippines is an archipelago consisting of over 7,500 islands. Consequently, its supernatural folklore is extremely various and varies from area to area. One supernatural monster could look barely completely different relying on which island you go to. However whereas the main points could change from place to position, the core of that creature stays the identical.

So with that in thoughts, let’s check out the varied denizens of Filipino folklore that seem in Trese.

“Tabi Tabi Po”

When you’ve watched the present, you’ll know this isn’t a supernatural being. That is what Alexandra says when she seeks info from Nuno. Within the wider context of Filipino supernatural lore, nevertheless, it’s a vital, life-saving phrase. By saying “tabi tabi po,” you’re primarily saying “excuse me” to no matter spirits could also be close by. That is one thing you say while you’re touring by way of areas the place supernatural beings would possibly reside: a subject, a mound of dust, a tree, a riverbank, and so forth. You do that to keep away from pissing off these spirits, a few of that are simply offended in the event that they assume you’re not respectful or acknowledging their presence. Failing to say “tabi tabi po” could result in your getting sick, coming down with a fever, and different associated maladies. It’s the sort of factor the place, even if you happen to’re not a believer, you simply say it. Why danger it?

Nuno sa Punso

In Trese, Nuno is Alexandra’s aged, supernatural informant. He’s primarily based on nuno sa punso, a nature spirit that takes the type of an previous man that lives in a mound of dust. Nuno sa punso are simply angered and vindictive, so this can be a prime instance the place it’s best to observe Alexandra’s lead and say “tabi tabi po.” In any other case, you would possibly twist your ankle or your foot would possibly swell like a balloon since you encroached on his territory. Nuno from Trese is technically not a nuno sa punso. He’s truly the nuno sa manhole since he lives within the sewer and never a mound of dust.


Whereas duwende are additionally earth spirits, they’re to not be confused with nuno sa punso. They’re extra akin to capricious little goblins. They’ll bestow good luck upon you. They’ll serve you a heaping pile of unhealthy luck. Or they will simply steal your issues, conceal them, after which chortle at you while you attempt to discover them. Appears becoming that in Trese, a duwende would assist a lady turn out to be a well-known actress even when it means sacrificing some issues alongside the best way.

Laman Lupa

Historically, laman lupa refers back to the household of earth elementals in Filipino folklore. Utilizing this definition, nuno sa punso and duwende could be kinds of laman lupa. However in Trese, laman lupa refers back to the mud elementals that Nuno summons as safety.

The White Woman

The white girl might be essentially the most acquainted of the supernatural denizens featured in Trese. Nearly each nation on the earth has some city legend a couple of feminine ghost who wears a white gown. The White Woman of Balete Drive is essentially the most well-known of the white girls discovered all through the Philippines. Her story is acquainted to paranormal followers. A lady dies in a automotive accident on Balete Drive. Years later, she haunts taxi drivers who decide her up in the midst of the evening. Different tales say individuals who drive alongside the road through the in a single day hours could catch a glimpse of her of their rear-view earlier than she vanishes. Many tales declare she has brought on a number of accidents alongside Balete Drive.


Many tales clarify the massive fireball that Alexandra summons utilizing her mobile phone. The consensus is that santelmo are souls of the deceased with unfinished enterprise. They may be in search of vengeance. Perhaps they merely need assistance. Generally they chase you. Different instances, they trick you into following them till you’re desperately misplaced. Assume the will-o’-the-wisp from European folklore. If the identify sounds suspiciously like St. Elmo’s Fireplace, you’re proper. Santelmo is more than likely a supernatural rationalization for the real-life climate phenomena of ball lightning and luminous plasma.


In keeping with Filipino folklore, these humanoid horses prefer to reside in distant mountains and forests. Be aware how Alexandra meets Señor Armanaz in a penthouse that resembles an indoor jungle. They’re notorious for taking part in methods on vacationers. They prefer to scare them and lead them astray. Within the city setting of Trese, this takes the type of Maliksi drag racing and inflicting his challengers to crash.


When Anton, Alexandra’s father, was nonetheless alive, he was assisted by a pack of shapechangers. Sigbin, as these creatures are known as, are familiars. Relying on the wants of their grasp, they will tackle many alternative kinds, however in some areas, they typically appear to be canine, which is the model Trese follows.


In keeping with Filipino folklore, tiyanak are vampiric infants. They cry like infants to lure in unsuspecting individuals. Infants are innocent, in spite of everything. They’ll’t damage you, proper? However while you decide up what seems to be an deserted toddler, the tiyanak will remodel and assault you. In some tales, tiyanak come from unborn kids whose moms died earlier than giving delivery. In different tales, they’re the spirits of kids who died earlier than being baptized. Keep in mind, Spanish colonialization remodeled the Philippines right into a predominantly Catholic nation and in consequence, it influenced the native folklore.


The aswang is the Philippines’ most well-known monster. It’s much less a reputation for one sort of supernatural creature and extra a label we give a whole household of monsters. In Trese, we see a gaggle of aswang confront Anton when Alexandra undergoes the ritual trial on the balete tree. However if you happen to look nearer, you’ll discover they arrive in several kinds. One is a stupendous lady. Some are flying torsos, that are maybe essentially the most recognizable aswang, the manananggal. The primary sort of aswang we encounter in Trese are the ghouls who’ve fashioned organized gangs all through Manila and visitors people.


Whereas diwata don’t explicitly function in any of Trese‘s six episodes, we catch glimpses of them on the supernatural gatherings that Anton holds. The gorgeous lady with the flowing garments and the magical sigil floating behind her? Positively a diwata. Some Westerners prefer to name them the Filipino equal of elves. If a comparability have to be made, they’re extra akin to the normal Irish idea of the Fae. Assume supremely highly effective nature spirits.


Like “tabi tabi po,” kulam isn’t a supernatural being. On this case, it’s black magic carried out by witches. The important thing reality to know right here is that kulam particularly targets individuals who’ve dedicated a mistaken. In keeping with conventional lore, kulam doesn’t work on people who find themselves harmless. In case you wanted that little bit of nuance to the assault on the police station.


Balete bushes aren’t monsters both, however these bushes occupy an necessary place in Filipino folklore. We all know them as a kind of strangler fig. Like different stranger figs, balete encircle host bushes and finally kill them. In Filipino folklore, nevertheless, they’re dwelling to all method of supernatural beings like tikbalang or diwata. In addition they function the positioning for magical rituals, as we see in Trese. Some balete discovered within the Philippines are mentioned to be over 1,000 years previous and have many chambers inside them. Balete Drive, dwelling to the white girl, is called such as a result of a balete tree used to develop on the road.

Did you notice some other references to and denizens of Filipino folklore? Tell us within the feedback.

Trese is presently streaming on Netflix.

The submit Trese: The Filipino Folklore Behind Netflix’s New Anime appeared first on Den of Geek.

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