Metro Manila reimagined in Netflix’s “Trese”

by Matthew Escosia
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By: Patricia Yap


More than a month since its release, the Filipino komik-turned-Netflix-animated-series Trese is still the ultimate talk of the town. From its plot, animation, art style, soundtrack and even voice acting, there is no single aspect of Trese left untouched—or so everyone thought.

Set in a reimagined Philippines that’s disrupted by supernatural beings, Trese gives its audiences one more thing to talk about while showing a new and thrilling image of the bustling streets of Metro Manila. And for Filipinos especially, the real-life locations used in Trese’s captivating animation evoked feelings of pride and nostalgia.

While certain landmarks, buildings, and scenic cityscapes were spot on and were easily recognizable, some locations weren’t actually identified, but you know these couldn’t be anywhere else in the world, with each artistically produced scene having that 100% Filipino feel.

Without further ado, here’s a tour of some of the places in the animated world of Trese’s Metro Manila.

Roxas Boulevard Skyline

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Photo from Netflix and Oliver Mercader

Words cannot even describe the beauty shown in this sunset red scene of Manila City’s famed Roxas Boulevard skyline overlooking Manila Bay, a waterfront attraction visited by hundreds of people daily, pre-pandemic that is. The otherwise greyish-blue skies in Manila Bay were painted with red hues that were just perfect for Trese’s supernatural setting and story. In a way, Trese’s version foreshadows the havoc and chaos that’s soon to come. But imagine if Manila Bay actually looked like this. Captivating yet frightening, right? A haunting beauty.

De la Rosa Avenue

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Photo from Netflix and Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a regular in Makati, you’d know that the streets are always busy, including De la Rosa Avenue. But in Trese, the foot traffic heavy area could almost be described as lifeless. Don’t get me wrong, Trese’s version is not lifeless in the way that they made De la Rosa Avenue bland. What I meant is that you could almost feel the silence in this scene. No cars, no people, and not even a hint of breeze would blow through its famed walkway. Certainly, it’s hard to imagine De la Rosa Avenue being this quiet but thanks to Trese, such a haunting image is possible.

The Ortigas Skyline

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Photo from Netflix and Ortigas Land

Another hauntingly beautiful scene is Trese’s rendition of the booming and colorful Ortigas skyline. Known for being one of the Philippine’s biggest commercial areas, Trese gives the Ortigas skyline a different feel by shrouding its glimmer in fog and a masterfully subdued color scheme. However, what we personally like about this scene is that even though the colors are subdued and the lights seem to fade, the area still looks as busy and crowded as ever.

Manila South Cemetery

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Photo from Netflix and Lynzy Billing

Centered on the supernatural, a public cemetery couldn’t be a more fitting location in Trese’s world. But what makes this cemetery scene special is that it’s a recreation of the Manila South Cemetery – a place that’s home to both dead and the living. For generations, the Manila South Cemetery has been home to countless informal settlers. And it’s not just a matter of living next to the cemetery, a lot of people here actually live in the tombs themselves.

Meralco Building

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Photo from Netflix and Meralco

The Philippines’ main electric power distribution company, Merlaco, is probably one of the most easily identifiable locations in Trese. Although the buildings beside it were drawn shorter, we love how the shape of the building, the lights, and even the driveway in front of it are exact replicas of its real-life counterpart. You can’t get a more accurate adaptation than this!

ABS-CBN take over

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Photo from Netflix and CNN Philippines

Iconic! Iconic! Iconic! One of the Philippine’s major broadcast networks ABS-CBN was dubbed “ABC-ZNN” in Trese, and needless to say, news and media outlets went crazy. Though it’s a pretty simple easter egg, it was still a surprising scene for viewers to see for the first time. But what’s more surprising is when ABS-CBN itself covered its gigantic logo with a black signage that read “ABC-ZNN” and spelled “Trese” through its window lighting, as part of the series’ marketing promotions.

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Photo from ABS-CBN

Davao City Police Headquarters

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Photo from Netflix and PNP

While Trese doesn’t name the police headquarters used in the show, the structure looks exactly like the Davao City Police Office Headquarters. The shape of the building, the unique arch entryway, the Philippine flag in the center of the small roundabout, it’s all too accurate!

New Bilibid Prison

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Photo from Netflix and CNN Philippines

The New Bilibid Prison is one of the biggest penitentiaries in the Philippines, with over 20,000 inmates. Instead of showing its original white facade, Trese’s version of the New Bilibid Prison presents a more reddish-brown building, but it’s still undeniably recognizable from the real-life structure.

Manila Hospital

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Photo from Netflix and Florentino Floro

Although it’s not not entirely confirmed if the “Manila Hospital” in Trese is a recreation of the Manila Doctors Hospital, we would say that it’s probably a close inspiration. Not to mention the building next to it looks eerily similar to the one in real life. We don’t have much to say about this one, but we do love a good easter egg that makes me think and scour the internet for the real-life counterpart.

Balete Drive

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Photo from Netflix and Florentino Floro

Balete Drive is known as one of the most haunted places in the Philippines that’s home to a ghostly apparition called a “white lady”. It’s also named after a gigantic tree common in Philippine folklore for being the home of spirits. This place is located in a residential area in the easter part of New Manila in Quezon City. This is another simple easter egg but it is certainly one of the most fitting one in a story like Trese which explores the paranamormal.

The Amazonia Bar as the Diabolical

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Photo from Netflix and Dotproperty

In Trese’s world, “The Diabolical” is a club owned by Trese herself, where supernatural beings can enjoy themselves freely and have a party. Although the Diabolical is not a real bar, the building itself is inspired by an old and recognized bar in Manila called the “Amazonia Bar”.

Train Stations and Manila traffic

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(Left) Still from Netflix; (Right) Photo from BBC

Apart from actual buildings and specific locations, Trese also showed its audiences what commuting in the Philippines is like. Honestly, it’s not very different from what we see every day.  Commuting, especially in Manila, is still stressful but at least Trese makes it look aesthetic and colorful.

The Streets of Metro Manila

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Photo from Author

When we said there are scenes in Trese that don’t have a specific location, this is what we meant. I wish I could include all of the nostalgic and relatable common areas in the Philippines, but for now this will have to do. The everyday streets of Metro Manila that are filled with parked tricycles on the side, banderitas hanging above small and makeshift homes, and sari-sari stores located every other house are just some of the images that make you realize that you’re in the Philippines.

Panaderias and Carinderias

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(Left) Still from Netflix; (Right) Photo from Author

The slow scenes in Trese really take you through what the typical day-in-the-life of a Filipino is, especially Captain Guerrero’s morning routine (because it reminded me of my own). In this scene, Captain Guerrero is lining up to buy bread in a local bakery or panaderia for breakfast – and if you’re not from the Philippines, you wouldn’t know that there’s a bakery almost anywhere you go. In addition to this, there was also a scene where our protagonist Trese is having her down time in a local carinderia, a cheap place to get fresh and home cooked meals. Everything from the glass covered food displays to the plastic chairs are accurate, and we love it!

Whew! And we are done with the tour. That was a long one but we hope you enjoyed looking through the animated and real-life photos as much as we had fun looking  them up.

Of course, there’s still plenty more to see in the Netflix original anime series Trese. So if you don’t want to miss out on any of the other scenes in this show—obviously the story too because it is the bomb—then head on now to Netflix and enjoy!

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