This year is just zipping by. Looking back in June, I realize I haven’t been listening to any songs or vibing at all! I’ve just been trying to level out, but I did have some fave reads and views from last month.

READING

Trese (by KaJo Baldisimo and Budjette Tan)

Trese is a supernatural, mystery komiks series set in Metro Manila. The protagonist, Alexandra Trese, helps the police solve crimes involving the supernatural. The creators reimagine the creatures in Philippine folklore if they inhabit the modern world. They have said that Neil Gaiman is a big inspiration in the creation of this series, and what a gift that is.

Many people have suggested Trese to me over the years, but I finally picked up the first three volumes in anticipation of the Netflix animated adaptation and I loved it! Both the komiks and the series. My favorite cases were the ones involving an iconic character and the one with the deaths in an exclusive village.

Unfortunately, I suppose due to rights, the first case was not included in the Netflix show and the second one was reduced to a sub-plot in one episode to serve the larger throughline of the series. It’s why I would still suggest picking up the komiks for the sheer fun of the discovery and the art, of course.

I grew up hearing stories about the engkanto, aswang, manananggal, kapre, tiyanak… so it was exciting to see these creatures represented in a visual medium of my two favorite genres—murder mystery and fantasy.

I’ll definitely be buying the rest of the volumes—once they’re back in print.

Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story (by D. T. Max)

This is a biography of the author David Foster Wallace by the bestselling author and journalist D. T. Max.

In the midst of my consumptive reading slump, I kept watching YouTube videos of and about Wallace. Unfortunately, I never got to read his work while he was still alive, so I’ve always found his writing sad knowing the tragic end to his life.

Wallace is a divisive figure in contemporary literature. People who love him, REALLY love him, and people who dislike him, dislike him because of the fanaticism behind him.lol This book, I think, sheds a whole new light on Wallace. It humanizes him. The revelations about his misogyny, performance journalism (?), and other hideous sides likewise added a new lens in reading his work. I would be curious to talk to someone who read his work when it was released. I was too young to read Infinite Jest when it dropped but was it that monumental? Or does the myth of Wallace loom larger than his work?

Confession: I only got to three hundred or so pages of Infinite Jest. It’s now gathering dust on my shelf. I did read The Pale King, his unfinished novel, which I liked very much, as well as a few of his non-fiction works. Perhaps I’ll pick up IJ again. Maybe.

VIEWING

Trese (Netflix)

Because I read Trese before I watched Trese, I wondered if the story made sense. For instance, I found episode 1 to be a bit convoluted. Much of the exposition of the crime was narrated by the character rather than shown. 

Alexandra Trese is a badass and the kambal are very cool, but I wonder if the cool factor sacrificed practicality. Those costumes are hot! Literally. I’m glad they addressed it in the series in the scene where the kambal were sweating. Now that’s the Philippines I know. You cannot be dressed like that in this heat!

Even Trese’s coat looks uncomfortable. Although perhaps it has historical significance or has to do with her lineage? I think her father has Chinese blood. I suppose it’s too much to ask to keep everything indigenous. And the Philippines has been colonized multiple times, so foreign influences are bound to seep in. It cannot be helped.

I watched it in the Filipino version without the subtitles because, for some reason, I think the creators decided to use the closed captioning of the English version as the basis for the subtitles(?). So, if you watch in Filipino, the subtitles do not match the spoken dialogue. Strange.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I binged the whole thing. The voice actors did a fine job, especially the kambal, Hannah and Amie of the Habagat and Amihan tribes. It was a thrill to have this little-show-that-could featured on a global platform. I suppose because Filipinos get so few wins these days, any chance to showcase the Filipino culture to the world is a cause for celebration. Mabuhay!

Alias Grace (Netflix)

Alias Grace is a limited series based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same title published in 1996. This is based on a true story about an Irish immigrant servant who was accused and convicted of murdering her employer and another housekeeper in 1843.

In the series, a psychiatrist, Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft), conducts multiple interviews with Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) as part of a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether she’s fit for release after being imprisoned for 15 years.

Gadon is brilliant in this series. She manages to show just enough vulnerability to make you believe in her innocence while sowing doubt with her knowing smile, the edge in her voice, and sharp tongue. She’s funny, too. It doesn’t take long for you to realize that she has the upper hand in those interviews. Unfortunately, women are so often repressed and oppressed in her time, she gets her power where she can.

I have to admit, I put on this show to put me to sleep knowing it’s dialogue-heavy. However, the storytelling was so compelling, I stayed awake for every episode. It was worth it. I might even rewatch it just to see whether my opinion changes on whether she’s guilty or innocent.


That is all! Hopefully I’ll be vibing more this month because June was not it.

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