28 June 2013


Option 23: Trese: Murder on Balete Drive by Budjette Tan, illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo
(See the Giveaways page for more information)

"Good evening, Capt. Guerrero. Thanks for calling me."

"Hello, Alexandra. I had a feeling you'd want to see this for yourself."

"Of course, it's not every day a white lady is found dead. Especially on this street . . . So, what do you know so far?"

"Looks like your total automobile accident. Until one of the neighbours identified the victim. Her name was Gina Santos."


"The neighbours said, as far as they can remember, she died back in the 1960s."

One old post of mine which has been getting a lot of new hits lately is The Language of Books. It includes a "Tenner" of books I thought everyone should be fluent in, and is based on the idea that literacy involves more than the decoding of phonetic symbols. You're not truly literate unless you could carry on an intelligent conversation with someone 1,000 years from the past and 1,000 years from the future. This is a feat which has less to do with technical mastery of dead or evolved languages than with an ability to understand universal values even when they are communicated in unfamiliar symbols.

Accordingly, while it would be cool to know exactly why the setting "Balete Drive" and the character "white lady" should make chills run down your spine, it's not a prerequisite for enjoying the first supernatural crime Thriller in the Trese case files.

In fact, I'd say all the elements in these four shorts are totally accessible to intelligent readers from anywhere in the world, with one offbeat exception . . .

I never thought I'd have to explain Darna . . . or Ding. =P

For those who speak neither Filipino nor the universal language of cheese, the clip is the origin story of the Philippines' answer to Wonder Woman. Basically, a virtuous but ordinary young lady is chosen by some higher power to be a champion for goodness and justice, and receives super strength and the ability to fly when she swallows a stone and yells, "Darna!" The only other one who knows about it is her little brother, Ding.

Got it? Good. You may now feel free to win Trese: Murder on Balete Drive. =)

To make this post more of a proper review, let me add that I really liked this graphic novel and plan to read the rest of the series about paranormal crime detective Alexandra Trese, which puts a creative spin on both old urban legends and current urban blight. Who knew that Manila's seedy underbelly had such a convincing supernatural side?  

You should choose this book in the giveaway if . . . you like edgy stories and edgy art. 

For your convenience, the 2013 Rafflecopter . . .

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Image Source: Trese: Murder on Balete Drive by Budjette Tan, illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo


cyurkanin said...

Ever since "Elmer" it seems you've been really going down the graphic novel road. Why do I find that so odd?

Enbrethiliel said...


I'm not sure why it seems any odder than my jaunt down the Roger Corman road ;-) . . . but there's another reason for this. I actually hadn't wanted to feature two graphic novels in a row, but after I nixed Gagamba as a giveaway option, realised I didn't have the emotional stamina for a second Jose novel, and saw the alternatives I had to choose from, Trese was the obvious shoo-in. Too much of contemporary Philippine Fantasy is in short story form, with no continuity between stories--something I've started to find stultifying. For some reason, graphic novels are the exception to that.

Yet it feels hypocritical to complain. As you may have guessed, I, too, write Fantasy stories--and they are all short. =P Perhaps I'll run into a local artist someday and go the graphic novel series route in another big way, but until then . . .

cyurkanin said...

There was another descriptive title for graphic novels when I was a kid.