Here's the Trese Creator's Starter Pack to Philippine Mythology


With all of the genius promotional materials around Metro Manila—from the alleged aswang caught on tape vandalizing a billboard to manananggals flying over busy streets—there’s hardly a Filipino netizen that isn’t eagerly awaiting Trese’s premiere on Netflix on June 11.

The Filipino animated series will bring the beloved graphic novels of the same name to life, giving audiences a new and revamped way of experiencing the Philippine mythology and folklore that enrich our culture.

Philippine mythology can be complicated, but Esquire caught up with Budjette Tan, co-creator and writer of the Trese komiks, who shared his starter pack for novices of Philippine mythology. Here are five required reading materials that’ll fully initiate you into the world of Filipino folklore.

Photo by Summit Books.

1| The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo: Creatures and Beasts of Philippine Folklore

Sometime after creating Trese, Tan created his own lexicon on Philippine mythological creatures with The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo: Creatures and Beasts of Philippine Folklore. It was also illustrated by Trese illustrator and co-creator Kaljo Baldisimo.


Similar in style to Harry Potter’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, each description of the creatures and monsters of Philippine mythology is accompanied with fascinating, if terrifying, illustrations. The Lost Journals is no longer in print, but it is available as an eBook on Summit Books’ flagship Lazada store.  

Photo by Amazon.

2| The Works of Maximo Ramos

Even in death, Maximo Ramos remains a pillar in Filipino folklore literature. Tan shares Ramos is a great starting point for those who want a comprehensive education on Philippine literature. Some of his books include: Philippine Myths, Legends, and Folktales; Legends of the Lower Gods; The Creatures of Midnight; and The Aswang Complex in Philippine Folklore.

His works have been published worldwide, and there’s a good chance you’ll find some of his books on Philippine myths and legends in the Filipiniana section of your community or university library. If not, you can purchase his paperbacks on Amazon.

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Photo by Adarna.

3| Mga Nilalang na Kagila-gilalas

Originally published as 101 Kagila-gilalas na Nilalang, the popular mythology book was reprinted as Mga Nilalang na Kagila-gilalas in 2019. Similar to The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo, this Adarna-published guide to Philippine mythology is written in Tagalog and features over 100 creatures, gods, goddesses, and monsters.

Mga Nilalang na Kagila-gilalas was written by Edgar Calabia Samar and is available on the Adarna House website.

Photo by Anvil.

4| Mga Tambay sa Tabi-Tabi

If you’re really struggling to keep up with the complicated pantheon of Philippine mythology, Tan recommends Mga Tambay sa Tabi-tabi: Creatures of Philippine Folklore written by Ang Illustrador ng Kabataan and published by Anvil.

It’s actually a Tagalog children’s book designed to introduce the myths of Filipino culture, but it’s a great crash course that’s easy to digest. The book appears to be out of print, but if you don’t mind preloved books, you can find a copy on Carousell or one of the many secondhand book shops on social media.

Photo by The Aswang Project.

5| The Aswang Project

Last but not least is The Aswang Project, a comprehensive online resource that was created by Jordan Clark in 2006. The site includes articles and videos on creatures, legends, and cultures of Philippine mythology.

What started as an introductory website to Filipino folklore has since evolved into something far more advanced and detailed as it records the hundreds of regional creatures and myths across the Philippine archipelago. If we had to rank this, we’d say The Aswang Project is for more advanced acolytes of Philippine mythology. You can visit the website here.


Think you’re ready for Trese now? The show drops on June 11, only on Netflix.  

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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