"I LU Long Time"
What makes us think we can reclaim a phrase as complex as “me love you long time?” That’s something we’ve had to reckon with lately, what with the world ready to cancel anyone and anything remotely problematic. When I wrote the words to explain the history and context of the seemingly commercialized version, “I LU Long Time”, I knew we were treading in dangerous post-pandemic metamodern waters. But I am a 36-year old Filipina woman. I sit atop a small F&B company, with relatively more power than I care to admit, but also refusing to be treated like “the man” because I’ve rejected many of the comforts afforded rich people with power and influence. I once had a white South American retiree proposition me while waiting at Starbucks, on the way to watch a collegiate basketball game. Spoiler alert: I politely declined. It has informed my internal decolonizing process, long before I found out that cultural emancipation was an option for a brown girl like me. I do feel like I’ve earned the right to shit on colonialism and exoticism, without myself being perfect and infallible. We gotta start somewhere, right? Right?
That said, the new shirt design favors long run-on sentences precisely to lose your attention. In the off chance you persist, you will be rewarded with the simplicity of modern life – nothing resolves. If clickbait headlines are your thing, and your entertainment is 7-second TikToks about complex topics, this shirt is for you. The hashtag is over; just say something - anything! - in your broken English and you are already participating in this cool/hot new/old trend. We stand at the frontlines of cultural hegemony, and if there is anything truly Filipino, it is the acceptance of exploitation, as long as we can meme about it.