Liza Soberano on Exploring Philippine Mythology and Finally Being a 'Superhero' in Netflix's Trese
Trese is just days from being released to the eager anticipation of fans. Filipino actress Liza Soberano voices the main character, Alexandra Trese, in the Tagalog dub of the series, lending her starpower to the upcoming show. Trese, an urban fantasy anime, is based in an alternate universe where Metro Manila lives side by side with its mythological and monstrous Underworld, home of aswang, tikbalang, and duwendes. Liza stars as the fierce and unflappable Trese, a character that marks the actress’ pivot toward graver characters and only scratches the surface of her range.
Esquire Philippines got to talk to Liza during her Netflix roundtable interviews. Here’s everything the actress had to say about being part of the gritty new Netflix show.
On Exploring the Dark Side with Alexandra Trese
Trese is far from Liza’s typical roles. There’s plenty of drama, but it’s rooted in murder, mystery, and magic instead of romance and angst. Trese will explore plenty of dark themes throughout the first season, and the character herself is emotionally complicated, letting the actress explore her range as a voice actress.
“I just like the fact that I'm finally getting to play a superhero that’s brave, cool, and edgy,” said Liza, who almost played Darna before an injury made her drop out of the movie project. “I've always wanted to portray a character that's edgy and that people will love at the same time fear because she's so equipped; she can fend for herself.”
On the surface, Alexandra and Liza couldn’t be more different, but according to Soberano, she resonated with the responsibilities that sit on Trese’s shoulders. As the Mandirigmang-Babaylan, Trese is tasked with keeping the balance between the human world and the Underworld. Liza feels the same pressures to keep the peace as a public figure, conscious of those who look up to her and dissect everything she says. Of course, she has no aswang to deal with, but internet trolls are indeed a unique form of monsters.
On Championing Philippine Mythology
Trese will no doubt revive mainstream discourse on Philippine mythology. The show explores the complex politics that exist in this supernatural version of Metro Manila, giving it a modern take compared to the legends of old we hear passed down in our communities. From the aswang managing Manila’s docks to the tikbalang’s corporate empire, younger generations will no doubt love Trese’s portrayal of the supernatural.
“I feel like in a way, this series is kind of going to bring the discussion back [into] the minds of people, and our youth is going to learn more about our culture [and] about mythology,” said Liza. “I feel like [Trese] brings more life to each and every creature that they kind of give you a deeper understanding or an explanation of why these creatures are here and what they're meant to do what their purposes. So yeah, it's just going to bring light told us the stories that we used to hear as kids and it's going to be shared now with the future generation.”
Liza herself admitted that she wasn’t very versed in Philippine mythology going into the show until she landed the role and devoured the graphic novels. Now her favorite mythological creature is undoubtedly the aswang, the darkest entity in Philippine folklore.
On Filipino Dubbing
There’s been lots of buzz about Trese bringing Philippine mythology to the forefront of global entertainment, but it’s also bringing something just as culturally significant to public attention: Tagalog dubbing. As most fans know, the show will be dubbed in Tagalog and English, the latter of which includes an A-list Fil-Am lineup that includes Nicole Scherzinger, Manny Jacinto, and Darren Criss. But Liza hopes fans will also give the Tagalog dub a shot and support the language and local talents we have at home.
Tagalog dubbing of Western and K-Drama shows has been the butt of plenty of jokes lately, often labeled “baduy” by netizens.
“I have nothing to say against Western movies or music because they're amazing and they are what a lot of the world's entertainment takes inspiration from. But just because we come up with a Filipino adaptation or we dub certain programs or series or movies, it doesn't mean that it's baduy,” defends Liza.
“I feel like some people have that misconception because just because people want to be in or they want to be cool. You know what’s cool? Being proud about your heritage and supporting local and supporting the artists here in the Philippines.”
On a global platform like Netflix, Trese could introduce the rest of the world to the fascinating world of Philippine mythology and expose viewers to the talent of Filipino creatives.
“I feel like people should start supporting more local artists, more local creatives because we have the potential—we just need the support.”
Trese drops on June 11 only on Netflix.
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