Discovering the boondocks in the Philippines

banaue philippines

We often hear the term boondocks or boonies to describe a remote location or somewhere isolated—the outskirts, secluded surroundings, the rustic or backwater side of the tracks, picturing a tranquil place and hearing only the echoes of birds in our heads. Little do most people know that this expression was coined more than half a century ago and to anyone’s surprise, it’s not in the United States nor anywhere near it. It’s actually a relic of the American military enforcers in the Philippines during its time of colonization and later brought to the states after the peace treaty was signed.

Sometime around the latter years of the 20th century, U.S. Forces occupying the Philippines were up against Filipino revolutionaries betting their life for independence. The rebels used their own landscape to their advantage by striking rapidly then disappearing to the highlands, or “bundoks”. It is a literal translation of the word mountains or highlands, hence, the term boondocks came into light. It soon became an American military slang for the hinterlands, the woods, or anything unfamiliar to the foreign colonizers.

More than a hundred years later, it’s still vastly used all over the stateside, mostly by military veterans with some occasional usage in poems and songs. The Philippines, known for their love and pride at anything Filipino, also uses the Americanized term to refer to the mountains. No longer are the mountains something like endless suburbs or country shacks but it’s now a popular destination loved by many, locals and foreigners alike. Despite still being relatively remote, tourism has boomed so much that the local government and its people made efforts to maintain its beauty and uniqueness. Their hard work paid off as the well-renowned Ifugao rice terraces was given the honor as one of the Eight wonders of the world.

The terraces exemplify passed down cultural traditions and remarkable endurance and continuity. Archeological evidence even revealed that their technique has been used in the region for 2000 years and virtually unchanged. UNESCO recognized their pride of place and culture, not to mention its long-term commitment of its indigenous Ifugao roots that has sustained and conserved the cultural landscape over time.

The luxuriant green scenery, the crisp mountain air and the jaw-dropping carved “Stairs to Heaven” makes the exhausting tread worth the while. Socializing with the locals, you’ll learn the how to live a perfect balanced life with nature through observing the active tribes and ethnic groups still living in the vicinity.

If you’re looking for something authentic and untouched by the cybernetic influence, Banaue and its boondocks is a place for you. Away from the bustling city life, immerse yourself with the peace and genuinity of Ifugaos. Book through our Travel Experts and we’ll let you experience home away from home.