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13 Things You Need To Know About 'Trese,' As Told By Shay Mitchell And The Creators

We talk about aswang fanart, Alex as Batman, and Manny Jacinto's sexy voice.
PHOTO: (left to right) instagram/shaymitchell, netflix/trese
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Trese has been streaming for a week now and the internet still can't get enough of the series that spawned endless memes and aswang thirst posts (more like abs-wang, right?). So it's about time we do a deep dive into the show and the (strangely sexy) supernatural beings that inhabit the world.

During Netflix's press junket, we were able to have a roundtable interview with Trese creators Budjette Tan and KaJO Baldisimo, series writer and co-executive producer Tanya Yuson, and showrunner, director, and co-executive producer Jay Oliva. We also got to exchange an email interview with Shay Mitchell who voices Alexandra Trese in the English dub! Here are the 13 things (Why? Because Trese, get it?) we've learned:

1. Tanya Yuson pitched the Trese adaptation to both local and international studios.

Tanya: "I read Trese [when I was in Manila] in 2009 and at the time, I was looking for material to adapt to either a series or [a film]."

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"At that time, nobody was really picking up anything from the Philippines so, you know, we pitched to local studios but also to international studios. At the end of the day, what worked out was bringing the material to Netflix Anime. We were like, 'Is this really happening?!'"

2. Jay Oliva read the Trese comic books while mid-flight to Manila.

Jay: "I was on a plane with my art director Jojo Aguilar in December to meet with Tanya and the writers to basically do the writer's summit. [I was only able to read the series] on the plane over to Manila because we don't have it here in the States. They had to email me the comic because it was too late for them to ship it. So I read it while I was on the plane and then I started formulating how I would translate it but I wanted to get her [Tanya's] and the writers' opinions."

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3. The tiyanak design for both the graphic novel and the animated adaptation was based on films from the '80s.

KaJO: "The tiyanak from the comics is basically still Anak Ni Janice if you still know the movie from the '80s. Very memorable design [and] it's still here so maybe a bit of it came up when I was drawing that story.

(Note: KaJO is referring to the 1988 Tiyanak movie starring Janice de Belen. The 1991 film Anak Ni Janice was a comedy about a duwende love interest.)

Jay: "We took our lead off the original design of the comic but then we took a little bit of liberty and reference from another '80s movie, John Carpenter's The Thing. We basically took what KaJO had done and threw in The Thing [by adding] spider legs and making it a little weird. Because it's a weird mythology."

4. A lot of work was put into the tiyanak's sound effects, integrating popular lore.

Jay: "I tried to make sure that when you heard the baby crying from far away, it was close by and when it's close by, it was actually far away."

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Tanya: "Yeah, that mix is so good! You have to listen to it with either stereo or like stereo headphones because it's just—it's a whole other level."

Jay: "And when you turn up the bass, it's so scary because we made sure that you can hear the surround sound like it's crawling all around. Like, really good!"

5. Budjette Tan described Alexandra Trese as the Batman of the Trese universe. Jay Oliva also happens to be most known for directing the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns animated adaptation. (Coincidence? We think not!)

Jay: "It was funny because when I talked to Budjette originally [and] I said, 'Tell me about Alexandra. What's her personality like?' [Then he said,] 'She's like Batman,' and I was like, okay, I get it. I know where she is because when I was [working on] Batman, [he was the type of character who didn't] smile, he's very straight by the book. But what I liked about [Alex] and what we put her through is that there were moments where she let her guard down."

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 6. Trese creators Budjette and KaJO were totally cool with Jay and Tanya switching things up for the animated adaptation.

Tanya: "KaJO, Budjette, and I talked about it a long time ago. I told them [that they had to be] prepared [to see the series] morph from what [they had] on the page. And to their credit, they said, 'Yeah, go for it! We want to see what you guys end up doing.' Okay, [since] they have the confidence in us to do it, let's run with it."

7. Due to Trese's very dedicated and vocal fandom, Jay felt the pressure to really capture the authenticity of the graphic novels.
 

Jay: "[I wanted all the hardcore fans] to think that Budjette and KaJO wrote it and animated it themselves. And if that's what it felt like [for the audience] then I knew that I did my job. [I wanted to make sure that] Manila felt like a real place because, I didn't live there, I never grew up there. I know that everybody in the Philippines is gonna call B.S. if it's not authentic! *laughs*"

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8. The animated version fleshed out Alex's emotional connections.

Tanya: "In the pages, there's not a lot about her emotional life with her found family and what had happened to her parents, so we wanted to expand on that. We were taking cues from the book and were filling out what you don't see."

9. Manny Jacinto, who voices Maliksi, initially read for the Kambal but he sounded too sexy for the role. #WhereIsTheLie #Facts

Jay: "I already had Manny Jacinto in mind [but] didn't know whether or not he was gonna be the Kambal. But then once he did his lines, I was like, 'Oh, Manny! This is too sexy.' [So,] he's gotta be um…[Maliksi]."

10. Trese was the first voice acting gig for both Liza Soberano and Shay Mitchell, who voiced Alex in the Filipino and English dub respectively. (Liza already shared her thoughts in a previous article.)

Shay: "I really enjoyed it and was happy that my first time doing voice acting was with such a special project. [As for the challenges,] I mean we obviously brought this to life during COVID so doing the actual VO was always a literal production. At times, even nerve-racking because I was having to go into the voice booth prior to really leaving the house at all; but everything was planned out perfectly and I always felt extremely safe."

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11. Shay Mitchell would work with a dialect coach before each voiceover session.

Shay: "You know, [voicing Alexandra Trese was] SUPER fun, but actually pretty intense (in a good way). My mom is Filipino so while I am definitely familiar with Tagalog, I am by no means fluent. I wanted to do the language and culture justice though by really nailing my pronunciations, the cadence, and inflection. Before each VO session, I spent countless hours on Zoom with a dialect coach to really hone in on my character's lines. Let's just say my coach is proud (and my family!)"

"In practice, [voicing Alex gave me] a more in-depth understanding of both Tagalog and the characters and stories that comprise Filipino folklore. Philosophically, it has been so cool to watch this very dedicated team bring this story to life from locations all around the world during COVID. In other words, passion pays off!"

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12. Yes, Trese co-creator KaJO Baldisimo knows all about your aswang-loving fanart and fanfiction. This is the very same artist who originally designed the characters that you're all thirsting over. You know who you are! (Note: This topic earned an audible chuckle from Tanya Yuson.)

KaJO: "It's great to plant something—a seed—and have it grow in different directions. And then most of the directions are fun to read, fun to look at. It's always great when creators try to create. It feels even better [when you're able to bring out] that creativity [from others]. It’s a satisfying feeling."

13. Trese was created in hopes that the audience may once again find magic in the mundane.

Budjette: "We have a fantastic universe as far as our own mythology and folklore is concerned. Hopefully, [the readers and viewers] can look at the city again and see some magic in it. We've experienced that thanks to the fantastic marketing campaign of Netflix doing the vandalized billboards and found footage. You know, these things might sound scary or we make jokes about it but these are the stories that I heard growing up in Manila."

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"It's great that we're finding new ways to tell these stories using new platforms. We might be bored of our daily commute, we might feel very tired and stressed because of the lockdown, but hopefully, next time you step out on a street corner and look down at that manhole, you think that 'Oh, maybe there is a magical side to this city after all!'"

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