So I did a thing. I spat inside a tube and sent it off to a DNA testing company. Part of me was curious about my ethnic makeup. Being Filipino-American or Filipino descent, I’ve grown up to know how ethnically and racially diverse we are and to be proud of that diversity. It’s probably why we’re one of the groups that can be found in every part of the world.
Sometimes it can be controversial to call ourselves mixed as it’s seen as repressing our native roots while embracing our colonial past. I do want to preface my family history is of mixed heritage so much of my results didn’t come as a surprise. What I got out of my DNA testing was a stronger connection to my Filipino roots. It made me realize the true beauty and resilience of Filipinos.
I dug deeper into what makes a Filipino person genetically a Filipino. Many have ancestors from Spain (after 300+ years of colonialism) or China (proximity and migration) and America (as a US commonwealth).
Anyhow, as I researched, I couldn’t find much information on the topic of our genetic history. I saw YouTube videos of other Filipinos sharing their results which I found interesting. But I wanted to see if there were a larger study being done. I couldn’t find much and it’s probably due to our understated role in popular culture, politics, business, and media.
My purpose was to let others know that being Filipino is an identity and connection to culture as much as it is about genetics. Filipinos come in all shapes and sizes and an array of beautiful colors.
Just a little more background on me. My family is Spanish, French, and Filipino descent. We all consider ourselves Americans first but identify with our Filipino heritage. Our family currently has genes from pretty much every continent. That’s no exaggeration.
Filipino DNA Testing and Results
Anyhow, I was intrigued about the genetic makeup and so I used one of those online services, AncestryDNA, to let me know. I bought the kit and it arrived in a few days. After registering the kit number, I followed the instructions and spat into a tube and mixed it with the stabilizer. Then, mailed the box back and waited a month or so for results.
Now, keep in mind, when you give your DNA to a company, we do forfeit some privacy. I do trust, however, they stick to their terms of anonymity.
Another important thing about DNA tests is how often your percentages can change based on a growing sample size. These aren’t absolutes and therefore I won’t share percentages because I think that just dilutes the message.
The reality is that a couple of years ago I was x% of this and then a year later it changed. New countries or regions were added or removed.
With that out of the way, here are my results based on percentages: Philippines, Spain, Greek, China, and India.
Am I surprised? Yea I am, but I’m not really all that shocked.
The interesting thing is how I was the only one in my family that showed East Indian DNA. Other family members had results that didn’t show up on anyone else. Basically, we all got some unique results.
Here are the map results of their tests.
One thing to note is that our European ancestry was all over the map with Spain being the only one consistent. Some showed European Jewish ancestry, French, Swedish, Irish, Scottish, English, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Sardinia, and North African.
As for European Jewish ancestry, it makes sense since our family history included tales of Sephardic Jews in our Spanish lineage. The hodgepodge of results that encompassed the Mediterranean makes sense too since that’s a big melting pot. The English, Irish, Scottish and Swedish ancestry makes sense if we think of the history that intertwines with Vikings.
I guess what I am simply saying is that it makes sense. And in some ways supports the family stories that’s been passed down.
Should Filipinos do genetic DNA testing?
It really depends. I did this mostly out of curiosity in how testing works. But now, I probably wouldn’t have done it or ask my family to do it just to appease my curious mind.
I guess my point to everyone is that these tests are interesting but maybe unnecessary.
In fact, genetic accuracy is solely based on the data they have to cross-reference your DNA sample. It can be limited and often changes as new data is integrated into their genetic sample.
Is it worth it? Maybe as a fun exercise but I realize identity doesn’t have to match your DNA. Sometimes our DNA is expressed differently in how we look externally. Ultimately, our identity is based on what we are taught, what we think and feel, how we experience the world, and how it treats us.