How Far Is It To The 'Boondocks'? Try The Philippines
"Ugh, I have to visit my aunt out in the boondocks this weekend."
How often have you said or heard something similar? For more than half a century, Americans have used the phrase "the boondocks" or "the boonies" to indicate that a place was in the middle of nowhere. However, few people realize that the phrase is a relic of American military occupation in the Philippines, and that it was later brought to mainstream attention because of a now largely forgotten, fatal training accident on Parris Island.
First, some history: The 1890s were a troubled time for the Philippines and marked by several conflicts, and the 1896 Philippine Revolution marked the start of the country's fight for independence from Spain. The United States would go on to acquire the Philippines from Spain in 1898 following the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War. The Philippine-American War immediately followed a year later and would continue until 1902.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase "the boondocks" is derived from the Tagalog word bundok, which means mountain. (Tagalog is one of the two official languages of the Philippines; the other is English.) American soldiers stationed in the Philippines adopted the word in the early 1900s, shifting the meaning to refer to "an isolated or wild region."