National Book Award trophy Picture

The Official Citation from the 2009 National Book Awards :

Powerful, iconic characters comic book characters Darna , Zuma and Captain Barbell, among others, emerged fully-formed from the mind of Filipino comic creators. That creativity continues to this day, in all directions, in different ways. But in Trese, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo have a stunningly original idea, swathed in the irresistible spookiness of our folklore and the edged mythology of our urban legends. Alexandra Trese, the enigmatic paranormal investigator and her lethal bodyguards the Kambal helps the police when encountering cases that just don’t make any sense of the normal kind. In the process, Tan and Baldisimo offers us a peek into the supernatural embedded into Metro Manila’s badly lit corners.

In the first volume, Trese: Murder on Balete Drive, we are introduced to Alexandra and her team, and the second volume, Trese: Unreported Murders, showed us one peculiar procedural after another. But it is in this third volume, Trese: Mass Murders, where we find out where and how Alexandra Trese came to be who and where she is. Instead of hemming us in, Trese: Mass Murders actually opens up another world of narrative possibilities.

The rabid fan following Trese has earned is impressive, and that only adds to the fact that in Trese, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo has crafted a testament to the limitless capacity of the Filipino imagination, as well as one of the best Filipino comic books of all time.

It is for those reasons that Trese: Mass Murders is given the National Book Award for Graphic Literature.

(and here's the speech i wrote for the awards)

To the National Book Development Board and the Manila Critics Circle, thank you very much for recognizing our work and giving us this award.

To Ruey de Vera, who has shown support to local comics since 1995, writing reviews and interviewing local comic book creators, introducing them to Pinoys through his newspaper articles.

Thanks to Bow, Taps, Arnold, and Mark --the skeleton crew who conjured The World of the Unknown, a radio show about ghosts, aswang, and witches and most especially to Mark who thought of the name Trese.

Thanks to…

My dad, who told me all those stories that start with … There’s aswang outside the window!

My mom, who told me all those stories that ended with “happily ever after”

My brother Brandie, who drew my first horror comic book story and made me want to write more

Ka-Jo, my partner-in-crime, who asked me to do the impossible

Nida, our publisher and willing accomplice

Wella, who stands by my side during those days that seem like nightmares

Let me just take this opportunity to make an appeal to all the publishers in the room, to all the writers and artists in this room, to consider creating one comic book next year, to publish one graphic novel next year. (Although I’m not sure if my publisher will agree with me, that I’m encouraging you to become our competition.)

We once had a golden age of komiks, when supposedly it sold in the hundreds of thousands and reached millions nationwide.

We once had a golden age of komiks when it was the source material of many TV and radio programs -- and movies as well.

But maybe the age of the 10-peso newsprint komiks magasin sold at the bangketa is over.

Maybe this new age of comic books will flourish in the bookstores, sold at the price of a value meal.

I understand that as publishers, you have an editorial line to maintain. So, maybe aswang-hunting kick-ass women are not your thing and maybe gay beauticians swallowing giant magical stones that turn them into superwomen are not your thing-- but please do consider, the next time you plan a book about Rizal, why not tell it as a comic book – he was our country’s very first comic book artist after all.

The next time you do a biography of Ninoy or Cory, why not tell it as a comic book?

When I picked up Dolphy’s autobiography I thought, “This should’ve been told as a comic book!”

The next time you do a cook book about paella – maybe it the instructions can be told using comic book panels.

We once had a golden age of komiks.

I invite you to take the leap – to take a super human leap and bring back that marvelous age, that wondrous age, that fantastic age.

Thank you and good night.
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