If you remember my Balikbayan blog post from a few years ago, you may know that I am Filipino. Although my fellow countrymen may not think I am at first glance – they usually think Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese – I’ve always wondered which part of our family folklores was legitimate. Growing up my parents shared stories of my family as being partial Hispanic, Japanese and Chinese so I decided it’s time to put that to the test – literally! A few weeks ago, I took an AncestryDNA kit with the hope that it would be able to shed some light on my heritage. But to my disappointment, the result I received was – 100% Filipino.
Historically speaking, this is highly inaccurate. The indigenous communities in the Philippines do not just vary in location of residence, but also their biological characteristics because they reflect the migration of people around the Asia Pacific who have settled at different parts of the Philippines. A brief article from Culture Trip describes the indigenous communities found in the North and South, with pictures of some of the tribes. Not only that, the country has been colonized by the Spaniards for many generations (+300 years), the Japanese during World War II and the Americans. Even more, voyagers from Portugal and France were also documented to have landed in the Philippines. Considering all of these factors, how can this DNA test tell me that I am 100% Filipino when that in itself is quite ambiguous?
Before taking the test I knew that others of Asian descent didn’t find the results as useful. Or perhaps, I simply made the wrong decision of buying the wrong DNA kit? With so many popping up nowadays, it makes me wonder how accurate this type of DNA testing actually is. In contrast, the results reflect the forced assimilation generations of Filipinos went through. Their names changed. Beliefs ridiculed and forced into gentrification. Histories erased.
Ultimately, I have to ask myself the question – What does it mean to be Filipino to me?
P.S. Have you taken a similar DNA test? What was your experience with it?
6 thoughts on “Re: Disappointing AncestryDNA results”
Hi, I actually received the same results today saying I’m 100% Filipino. I felt just as baffled while knowing our countries history. Main reason I wanted to take a DNA test was to find what I was made up of and to possibly locate any biological relatives since I recently found out I was adopted. After finding out my results I felt confused not so much disappointed just confused by how it could be possibly 100% especially when the “DNA Matches” I was compared to had more in depth results or break downs. Truth of the matter is I was raised with the Filipino culture and feel completely connected to it so I’m not disappointed but knowing our history I was curious to see what percentage of other regions/countries could explain why I look the way I do or why I have certain features. Oh and also to find those family members.
Totally! There was a lot of colonization and imperialism that happened throughout Filipino history I was so sure that there would be some remnants of that come through in the results. It seems like if we were to really delve into our genealogy it would have to be done through national census records at the Philippines.
It is likely you are actually 100% Filipino (Austronesian). One thing to bear in mind, Spanish migration wasn’t extensive in the Philippines. There were just 40,000 people of European descent among the 7 million natives. There were Chinese settlers, and while they were more than the Europeans, they barely made up 5% of the total Philippine population
This is why a Mexican result (about 60% European, 40% native) is very different from a Filipino (usually ending up 95%-100% Austronesian)
Sure, I see your point. However, even what is considered Austronesian encompasses a large body of people from different geographies. In which case, what does that actually say about the Filipino diaspora?
I recently received the results from ancestrydna. The results were 100% filipino as well.
The results may be dependent on the size of their database and the amount of info to cross match against other regions. So they may have limited info, which may have resulted to what I see.
I’m going to give 23 and me a try since I heard they have a larger database, especially for southeast asian regions.
Oh interesting! If it’s ok with you, it would be great if you could let me know how that 23 and me test goes? I’ve read some mixed reviews around the time I bought the ancestry kit so hopefully the database has grown. 😊