The other day, I was working on my fiction series and had one of my characters refer to the “boondocks.” My editor brain got to wondering whether I was using the best word to mean “a remote, unsophisticated rural area.”
So I looked up synonyms, expecting a list of other southern-fried words. I mean, you can just hear the drawl: “Buh-oon-dawks.”
Imagine my surprise when I discovered the word comes from the Tagalog word “bundok,” meaning “mountain.”
I’d heard of the language, but all I knew was that it ain’t from around here. So I had to
follow that rabbit trail engage in further research.
Turns out that Tagalog is spoken in the Philippine Islands. The language originated from Luzon, the largest island.
Luzon… that name rang a bell.
Because my dad was there during World War II.Dad served in the Merchant Marine as a radio operator on one of the “Liberty Ships.” I’d written up his experiences as he told me about them, and entered the story in the Creative Non-Fiction category of my university’s writing contest. Click here for the portion where he “visited” Luzon. It was kinda funny.
As for “boondocks,” the term migrated to the US over a century ago, with Marines who’d fought in the Philippines. It was re-introduced here during World War II, by people like my own dad.
This odd moment of connection felt a little nostalgic. I wish I could’ve called Dad to tell him what I’d learned.
Anyway, from now on I’ll treat the word “boondocks” with more respect, y’all.
Thanks for reading,