Modernizing Philippine mythology, Trese reimagines the creatures of folklore into modernized supernaturals. Following the encounters of young Alexandra Trese, the new Lakan ng Sangkatauhan, as she maintains peace and order between the mortal and supernatural realms, we see a slew of modernized Philippine cryptids. From the manhole-dwelling nuno to the drag-racing tikbalang, Trese has done modernization right. As the series is set in modern Manila, there are quite a few cultural nods that you might have missed during your first time watching or, if you haven’t watched it yet, may go over your head. Here are five that will hopefully spice up your next Trese binge-watching session.
The Train Breaking Down
The scene that literally greeted us in Trese is the metro rail transit stopping midway its course. For unfamiliar viewers, it is easy to assume that it’s something borne from the creator’s imagination in order to advance the plot or create some sort of suspense. That may be true, but this is also a nod to the fact that the Philippine Metro Rail Transit System is nowhere near satisfactory. There are multiple occasions wherein the same scene happened in real life and the passengers are forced to walk towards the next station. As tragic and infuriating this may sound, this may elicit a smile or two from the viewers, especially those of Filipino origin.
The White Lady sa Balete Drive
The first case young Trese handles on-screen is the case of the White Lady sa Balete Drive. White Lady is basically just a female ghost that’s either dressed in all white or white in appearance. It’s a very common kind of ghost within the Philippine setting, so much that it is even used by kids to scare each other. The specific White Lady in Balete Drive, however, is more notorious than the others. This specific White Lady is known for haunting said street, making it one of the most haunted streets in the country. There are lots of anecdotes about supposed meetings with this spirit, which eventually caused its legend to spread throughout the country. Whether or not they believed in it, Filipinos should at least be familiar with the White Lady sa Balete Drive with their own versions of the story.
Multiple Things About Nuno
Nuno, the manhole-dwelling supernatural, has more than one cultural nod. For one, the phrase young Trese uses to summon Nuno, “Tabi tabi po.”, is actually the phrase locals use for the nuno in Philippine folklore to grant them safe passage across their territory. This is due to the fact that nunos sa punso or simply nunos are territorial creatures who don’t think twice about punishing those who disturb or damage their homes. Another is the candy young Trese offers it. It’s called ChocNut, a brittle chocolate candy. It may not be at par with the likes of Toblerone or Hershey, but its cheapness and chocolaty goodness make it a favorite of many. Unfortunately, it isn't as big as Trese makes it seem. The biggest one is only around one and a half to two inches long.
Superstar Nova Aurora
In the series, Nova Aurora is a superstar that has a duwende, Amang Paso, for a guardian. She’s probably the top actress in the industry with a solid fanbase who refers to themselves as Novanians. Yes, we’ve learned that from Hank. There is also a very renowned Filipina actress, who was also nominated multiple times to become a national artist, that is named Nora Aunor. The similarities in name alone are uncanny, but that’s not the only similarity they share. During her prime, she had an equally famous rival named Vilma Santos. As rival actresses clashing for the title “The Best”, both have their own solid fanbases. You’ve guessed it, the Noranians for Nora and the Vilmanians for Vilma.
Santelmo’s Cellphone Number
One interesting tidbit about Santelmo, the fire spirit that is said to be the spirit of the Great Binondo Fire, is that young Trese uses her cell phone to summon it. As weird or silly as this might seem, it does work well for young Trese as Santelmo saves her on multiple occasions. The most memorable, however, is during the final episode when Trese sacrificed her phone to make an explosion. During the brief moment when we can see the phone’s screen, we get a glimpse of what Santelmo’s number is. The screen flashes the number 003231870. It may seem like a typical cellphone digits, but this actually holds a deeper meaning. It’s the date when the disastrous fire consumed Binondo, March 23, 1870.
Trese is a pretty great watch. For us, at the very least. What’s better, however, is discovering these tiny details that show just how much research, wit, and genius came into play during its production process. Missing these awesome Easter eggs would be a real bummer, so we feel obliged to help spread the word. Did you miss any of these during your first watch? Perhaps, we’re the ones who missed one or two more things? Let us know in the comments below.