PX Goods in the Philippines

My wife and I were having a conversation a few weeks ago that just popped back into my head.  She was telling me about how imported goods in the Philippines are sometimes called PX goods, but she doesn’t know why.  I could be absolutely wrong, but I have a theory about that!

As you may or may not know I spent 8 years in the Army, and “PX” is an Army term.  It’s short for “Post Exchange”.  Almost every Army base has a post exchange on it, regardless of where it is in the world, with the exception being some in combat areas or when the post is just too small.  Even some of the camps in Kuwait have a PX.  The PX is like a big department store.  You can buy clothes, kitchen stuff, electronics, DVDs, music, games, and sporting equipment there, among other things.  A few even have sections for gardening.

So, how does this tie in with the term being used in the Philippines?

Well, there used to be a strong US military presence in the Philippines around the time of World War II, the Vietnam War, and even during the Cold War.  The first place that comes to mind (that’s still standing, albeit no longer under US control) is Clark Air Base in Pampanga.  It’s recently been given another name, but most Filipinos still know it by the old, American name.  I found the following information on Wikipedia:

Clark Air Base was originally established as Fort Stotsenburg in Sapang Bato, Angeles City in 1903 under control of the U.S. Army.

That article goes on to say that Clark Air Base had a “base exchange”, which is the Air Force term for a post exchange, but I think that initially it had a post exchange, like all Army posts do, and that word stuck in the minds of the local population.

Regardless of where you are in the world, a PX carries the same variety of goods which are mostly things from the US.  These goods would eventually make it into the local population by resale from troops trying to turn a buck on people wanting genuine American items.  So, in the Philippines, these items would be seen as imported goods.

So, long story short, I think the term “PX goods” is used to describe imported items because PX goods from the US military PXs that used to be in the Philippines were all imported items from the US.  Again, this is just a theory and it could be something else entirely, but this just fit so well with what I know!

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