A Game of Trolls: A Modern Retelling of Martial Law

EDITOR’S NOTE: The political views and opinions expressed in this article are solely of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of WhenInManila.com as a whole.

Forty-five years ago, Martial Law was declared in the Philippines by then President Ferdinand Marcos. It was the start of the country’s downfall to hell—human rights were violated, Filipinos were robbed of their freedom of speech, the country fell into a huge debt, and thousands of Filipinos found themselves suffering in the hands of a power-hungry government.

It was a dark time in Philippine history, and while it happened a little over four decades ago, it seems like many have already forgotten the atrocities we went through because of this unjust proclamation. With everything that’s happening in our country lately—Marcos being buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the Commission on Human Rights getting tons of flack for protecting people, and thousands of trolls praising the everyday violence—it is only timely to watch a play that reminds us of how we can be more compassionate with our fellow countrymen. It also raises the audiences’ awareness of Martial Law, as well as the on-going issues that we face in the current administration.

Written by Lisa Magtoto and directed by Maribel Legarda, the play A Game of Trolls tackled history and paralleled it to what is happening in our country today. The play explored the power of narratives and how it can bend and break history. It also showed how a changing a narrative can also influence someone’s perception of the real story. The production did not shy away from showing its stand, not only about the Marcos regime but also to the current controversies that we are facing.

In the play, the audience sees Martial Law in the eyes of Hector, a paid internet troll who seems to do his job for the sake of its pay. He’s cynical and apathetic, believing that what he’s doing wouldn’t do any harm to others. Despite the fact that his mother was also a victim of the Martial Law, his anger and abandonment issues left him numb and jaded from understanding the bigger picture. As he went on with his life, he was visited by the projections of Martial Law victims, sharing to him their side of the story. As the story unfolds, Hector’s indifference became his biggest downfall, forcing him to come out of his comfortable job and instead face the reality that what we do can create an impact that can be bigger than what we thought.

With its catchy music and playful attitude, the production was aimed largely at millennials and the younger population, those who might appreciate an extra clarity or two of what really happened in the past. Masked in funny exchanges and comical acting, A Game of Trolls tackles a rather heavy issue, telling stories that one cannot simply disregard and ‘move on’ from. Its story is simple and a little predictable, yet powerful enough to inspire and wake up its audience.

A Game of Trolls: A Modern Retelling of Martial Law


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