Category: FilAm Things

23andMe RESULTS!

Back in May, I wrote a post about wanting to try a DNA test. I took advantage of a deal 23andMe had last month and patiently awaited my results!

This may be a pretty lengthy post, but I want to provide as much information as possible when it comes to the DNA. Before I decided to purchase the kit, I scoured the internet for other Filipino’s results and just more information that I wanted before making the decision. I want to be of help, too!

If you’re interested in purchasing a 23andMe kit, please use my referral link here!


  • Ordered – November 4
  • Received (sent to San Diego) – November 9
  • Sent back kit to 23andMe (it took us a while to send back because we went to Hawaii the day after we got it) – November 14
  • Notification that my sample was received – November 23
    — From here, 23andMe says that you would get results in 6 – 8 weeks. I was prepared to wait that long, but it really only took about 2 weeks for me!
  • Received results – December 7Although, a weird issue we have is that my husband and I sent in our kits at the same time, but when he got his notification that his sample was received, it was a week after mine! He currently does not have his results, so we are waiting for that.



Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 7.50.48 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-09 at 7.50.20 PM99% East Asian & Native American. I expected this to be at 100%, but still, not surprising since I identify as 100% Filipino and both my parents and their parents came from the Philippines. Filipinos fall under Southeast Asian, the yellow parts of the map shown. 23andMe’s website states that their populations in Southeast Asia are Burmese, Cambodian, Indonesian, Lao, Malaysian, Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese. I don’t really have anything else to say about this!

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Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 7.50.08 PMNow THIS…was interesting. It’s only 1%, but it was enough to show up on the results! Remember when I speculated that we could be a tiny smidge of Spanish because of Garcia, my middle name? Well, I didn’t get a definite “Yes, you are Spanish!” but I did get something to look into.

I did get this little factoid that I most likely had a great-grandparent who is 100% Sardinian, but I read on their website, “Ancestry Composition often assigns Sardinian DNA to the Broadly Southern European or Broadly European populations… they are  genetically distinctive, despite occupation by a series of groups from across Europe and the Middle East.” So, I couldn’t really pinpoint if Sardinians are closer to Italians (since it’s in Italy), Spaniards, or anywhere else in Southern Europe.

These results were great, but they weren’t enough for me. They were still too vague and I couldn’t really say what my DNA make-up is (I like to get specific).


A friend of mine (whose results inspired me to want to get a DNA test ASAP), told me about WeGene, another genealogy site that catered to ASIANS! I was very happy with these results because they were exactly what I wanted from 23andMe. Because it’s focused on Asian genes, it’s more accurate for pinpointing Asian ethnicities rather than European and other DNA.

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According to these results, My Filipino blood is mostly Chinese! This took some research too, which I was delighted to discover. From what I understand, Gaoshan people are Taiwanese Aboriginal people, whose DNA is closely related to those of the current Filipino. Taiwan is right above of Philippines (well, all the areas that are of my ancestry composition are around the Philippines) so it makes sense. I was interested to see so much Southern Han Chinese in the makeup, and a little bit Hmong! They’re all technically Southeast Asian, as shown on my 23andMe results.

What really got me surprised was the big percentage of Cambodian. I hadn’t even thought of that being a possibility. I was also very surprised by the 6% of Indian! When I was younger, my dad used to tell me my nose was different from theirs and it made me look “Bombay,” (his words, not mine). I can’t wait to show these results to him and have him laugh at how right he was!

I’ve read in places that it wasn’t the most accurate (if accurate at all) when it comes to reading European DNA, so I took the 0.10% of Ashkenazi with a grain of salt. With that, I segue into…


The 1% European shouldn’t have been a big deal to me, but I was genuinely curious, so I decided to go a step further and upload my raw 23andMe data to GEDMatch after doing more research on what I can do to get more specific with my results.

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While the site isn’t very intuitive or user-friendly, it still gave me a tiny bit of what I wanted. For using GEDmatch, I referred to this awesome guide — trying to figure out what each project is can get complicated. I decided to go with the Eurogenes project because I wanted to get specific with the European percentage, and the Jtest calculator because my WeGene DNA said that I had that sliver of Ashkenazi and that was the only calculator that included it.

It obviously couldn’t avoid my 99% Asian blood, but it did get a little more specific with the European bits! It seems North-Central Europe stood out, as well as South Baltic. In my research, I found that they’re basically the same areas covered, but the fact that they’ve separated means that I have to dig a little deeper to get a clearer idea. It’s still Northwestern European like my 23andMe results said, so at least they were right in that.

I also took note of the areas where all the other, tiny bits of European were and found that East European, West Meditteranean, East Mediterranean, and Ashkenazi were all near each other anyway (besides Eastern Europe, but the spreadsheet encompassed Russia to…well, all of Europe), so I could just infer that it was broadly European (and too small to make a difference anyway). I also noted that the 1.30% of East African probably came from my E2 Haplogroup (which I don’t want to go into right now as I still need to understand it better). No African data showed up on 23andMe or WeGene, so for this case, I didn’t go into it further.

GEDmatch didn’t give me specific countries of origin, but after doing all the research I could, I accepted that people migrate and there can never be a true way to pinpoint what kind of European I was. I could’ve had an ancient Sardinian ancestor who moved to Finland, created a family there, years later the spawns of that family moved to some part of Russia and created families there, had the spawns of that family move to China… you get the picture. I’ve accepted it and now I’m having some fun speculating it all.

This experience was incredibly complicated, challenging, and mind-blowing to go through. It was also incredibly FUN! I’ve only scratched the surface with my findings and sooner or later, I plan to analyze my chromosomes and all the other reports provided through all these services.

Another fun thing I was lucky to do was to compare my results to a cousin who did the test as well! We got to see what parts we inherited from my dad and his mom’s side. I found that the European part is from my mom’s side since he doesn’t have it, which made sense since my mom always thought that her dad/my grandpa definitely had some Spanish in him (I’m trying to figure out how to explain this all to her later).

I’m planning to gift 23andMe to my parents and brothers at some point, and so will my husband. Eventually, when we have kids, I’d like to have them do a test too and keep the genealogy tree going. It’s important to me to know where my family has been, and I only hope I can pass the interest down.



Last night, my cousin’s fiance had a bachelorette party back in Hawaii. I’m incredibly close to her and I know if I were back in Hawaii, I would’ve been there. They looked like they were having so much fun. I sat at home playing video games.

Then, the feeling washed over me: I miss Hawaii. I miss home. 

I get homesick a lot. Everyday. I know I made my choice by moving to the mainland, and I’m not going to lie, it’s been a good decision. The one thing I really miss from Hawaii is my family.

I grew up with a huge family. My mom one of 12, my dad one of six. My cousins were the older siblings I never had and the younger siblings I never wanted. My aunties and uncles were second parents. I loved the way I grew up.

I find myself daydreaming of moving back. I imagine C and I finding a house, regardless of how expensive it is there. I see my future kids running around with my cousin’s kids. I see family parties sitting around with my cousins, just talking story. I see my mom and dad coming to visit, cooking dinner at my place, babysitting my kids…

My parents tell me not to come back because Hawaii just isn’t what it was before. It’s too expensive, the traffic is horrible, what is there to do? I could find cheaper housing up here. They could come move up here with me when I have kids. I don’t think they understand what kind of effect raising me in Hawaii had on me. I want my future kids to have the culture I grew up with, I want them surrounded by family every holiday and birthday, I want them to have what I had.

Here, they’ll be alone, the way we are. C and I don’t mind having just each other. I don’t want that for my future kids.

Home will always be Hawaii. It’ll always be a 7-11 musubi down the road, or Foodland Ahi Limu Poke, or laulau from L&L’s. It’ll always be a beach, a hike, an endless view of the ocean. It’ll always be family parties with homemade lumpia and puto-flan, plastic chairs sitting in rows in a garage, bedrooms filled to the brim with teenage cousins, houses with children running around and screaming.

Home will always be where my family is.

The Muddled Blood Of A Pinoy

Some of my family — brother, cousins, aunty and uncle — in Philippines.

I’m saving up for a DNA test. It seems 23andMe and AncestryDNA are the two most popular ones to try, but I’m worried about how it will read my muddled Filipino blood.

Why do I say muddled? It’s common knowledge that we don’t have a “base” ethnicity. We have the term Mestizo for those who know definitely they have Spanish ancestry, or Mestizo da Sangley for those with Chinese ancestry.

My mom’s maiden name is “Garcia,” but I don’t know if we’re Spanish. My last name is “Bulan,” which is Malaysian in origin, but I don’t know if we’re Malaysian. I’ve been mistaken for Chinese several times. I have no idea if there could be Chinese blood in me, but it’s possible. The only thing I know is I’m Filipino, but I’ve always wondered what exactly that meant for me (I’ll probably get more in-depth on this later, or you could look it up. Our make-up is really interesting).

Going back to the DNA tests, it’s been something I’ve always wanted to try. I could finally know what my specific Filipino blood is made up of! People would say to me, “You look Chinese,” and I could say “Yup, because I am! Even if it’s just five percent!”

I’m all about family and lineage. My mom is one of 12, my dad is one of six. I love looking at my family tree and being amazed at how many relatives I have. Some of my first cousins are the closest friends I have and practically my siblings. Because of this, I’ve checked out to see what I can find out about my family.

Problem is, my parents are from the Philippines. I’m part of the first generation of Garcias and Bulans who were born and raised and America. If you try to look my family up on Ancestry, almost nothing relevant shows up outside of the ones born in the continental US (yeah, it’s hard to even find records on the ones living in Hawai’i, how crazy is that!?).

That fact made me wary about a DNA test today. White people can easily get their German/Polish/French DNA tracked. Oh, you’re 1% Native American too? That’s awesome that you get to know the specific percentage of your DNA makeup. Now, where are all the Asians getting their DNA tested? It says you’re East Asian. Is that Japanese? Korean? Chinese? They don’t have enough information outside of Europe to say, and that ultimately is my problem.

Here’s an example of AncestryDNA and 23andMe’s regions that they can track.

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Let’s say I go with AncestryDNA. If I am a little bit of Chinese, it will just read “Asia East.” Philippines is considered “Asia South,” but so is Malaysia and India. I could be either of those and wouldn’t know. Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 5.58.28 PM23andMe is a little better, but not really. I would know if I’m Chinese, but not Spanish. Still wouldn’t know if I was Malaysian, or something else in Southeast Asia. They have just a slightly more specific range that I appreciate, but right now isn’t enough for me.

I’ve tried to look up other Filipinos who have tried the tests, and there aren’t many of them. I’ve read that “Pacific Islander” shows up in the results, and that would confuse me as someone who is from Hawai’i but not Hawaiian (more on that in another post, maybe).

I’m wondering if it’ll get better if I wait a few more years, or if this is the best it will get. I’m not exactly sure what needs to be done to get more accurate information, and I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do about it, but if there is I’d love to know.

Link: 29 Shameful Things Pinoys Who Who Weren’t Born In The Philippines Understand

29 Shameful Things Pinoys Who Weren’t Born In The Philippines Understand

I looked forward to going through this list. My family is hella Filipino and I knew I would be able to relate and laugh at everything.

I definitely did relate to some of these, but some of them were just so unheard of to me, and I knew it was because living in Hawai’i made things different.

Here are some examples:

3) You keep your shoes on while in the house, much to your nanay’s dismay.
Nope. In Hawai’i, that’s what you do. Why would you track all that dirt into your home? Even living in the mainland now I still leave my footwear at the door.

13) You dare to eat meals without rice.
Hell to the no. I mean, to be honest, since leaving Hawai’i I haven’t had as much rice as I did growing up, but I made that decision for health reasons. My whole life was filled with rice multiple times and not just from Filipino food — Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Hawaiian plate lunches…rice for days.

18) You don’t like Filipino Food.

20) You just can’t get used to the taste of ube ice cream.
Hawai’i has a pretty good amount of Filipino food areas, so getting some halo-halo is not a hard thing to do. Grew up with ube and all the Filipino goodies even if I’m not from Philippines, thanks to Hawai’i’s amazing diverse culture.

23) You use a Swiffer rather than a walis tambo.
Always have a walis tambo on us. My extended family who aren’t Filipino love to use them as well. They’ve seen them in markets all over the state and use it themselves. They’re just amazing brooms, OK?

28) And you don’t even like going to the beach.
Nope, not true at all. Hawai’i born and raised, I always have to be near an ocean.

Some other things I couldn’t relate to, for my own personal reasons not related to being from Hawai’i:

5) You don’t say “po” at the end of your sentences when you’re talking to elders.
I think this might be a Tagalog thing. My parents have never told me to do this. They did, however, always made sure I said, “Yes, Aunty/Uncle” or “No, Aunty/Uncle” whenever I talked to an elder.

7) And you don’t change into your pang-bahay clothes after going out.
My husband, who is also Filipino-American, doesn’t change into “house clothes” when he comes home. It makes me uncomfortable for him. My mom always made sure we did this, and to this day, I cannot be home in jeans or nice blouses because they are not my comfortable “house clothes.”

9) You rooted for Floyd Mayweather, not Manny Pacquiao, during the “Fight of the Century.”
I am ALL about representation of our people, and until my death I will root for the Pac-Man!

Actually, I couldn’t relate to a lot of this list, and it’s so off-putting to think that there are so many FilAms across the country that do relate to this. In a way, I’m lucky that I my parents decided that Hawai’i was going to be their new home. Hawai’i was basically another Philippines for them. Yes, I know it’s a huge difference, but Hawai’i already had a large Filipino population that allowed them to continue their normal way of raising a family. There’s a fairly large Filipino population here in California (and other states) but a lot of the FilAms I know here relate to this list more than I do. It’s a pretty interesting phenomenon, and I’m glad I can be a little more connected to my ethnicity because of where I grew up.