It’s taken me some time to get the courage to write about this, not because it’s about a traumatizing incident that’s taken me a while to talk about, but because it’s something that I’ve finally had to admit to myself and come to terms with.
I’ve mentioned it before in several posts, but I used to be “creative.”
I won graphic design competitions. I would daydream of being an indie photographer like Nirrimi Hakanson and even took my senior portraits with a DSLR. I used to write a lot: daily diary entries, prose, and poems about love and despair… I aced my English classes and thrived in Creative Writing classes.
I majored in Communication to give myself more options in careers, but I still managed to minor in English and graphic design and keep my advertising focus on “Creative.”
I thought that whatever I would do as a career, it would be creative. My first job out of college was as a photo editor and part-time portrait photographer, just to get started and keep my creative juices flowing. I moved from Hawaii to attend portfolio school… and we all know how that went. When I left, I thought I’d try to go back to my first love: graphic design. I didn’t have enough work for a good portfolio to get serious considerations on my job applications. I interned for a few months in Social Media Marketing, but with all my job interviews, I don’t think my writing samples were good enough for them.
This is where it gets difficult for me to talk about. I decided to stop trying for creative roles. It’s hard for me to admit this because a creative role was always where I thought I’d be, regardless of the industry.
In the midst of all the failure, the days of rejected job applications, disappointing job interviews, and watching others around me thrive in the areas I thought I would already be thriving in… I decided I need to move forward with my life somehow. To do that, I had to admit what I didn’t want to: I’m just not creative anymore.
I don’t write the way I used to. I don’t take photos the way I used to. I’m starting to loathe social media and pray for the day I can just remove myself from it. I don’t even bother with my graphic design skills anymore. The days where I used to love designing everything myself are replaced by me choosing a customizable design for convenience.
I decided to go into a very unglamorous career (won’t be specific for the sake of not jinxing it). I did my research, and there are so many job openings for it and it seemed like it could be something I’d… maybe not love per se, but something I’d like. It will be something I could do for money, and as long as I have the same work times as my husband, I can still live a life of love, family, and travel outside of it. My life will still be the way I wanted, just not career-wise anymore.
It took me a long time, almost three years, of realizing that I could either keep trying and failing to be the creative person I thought I was or to jump ship and try a different path.
I know that in every inspirational speech you ever hear, they tell you to work towards your passions. People could tell me I’m an idiot for settling for a colorless administration career when I used to have dreams of being a writer. People could tell me I should just keep trying if it’s what I really want. No one really tells you what to do if you’re not good at what you really want, and that’s what I’ve had to decide.
Those who have known me before would say I used to be filled to the brim with so much potential. I could’ve done all the things I wanted to. I’m the only one who can admit that at some point, I changed for the worse. I’m the only one who has to work around it, and this is me doing so.
“So this is the new year… and I don’t feel any different…”
– Death Cab For Cutie
It’s the first week of 2018, so I figured I’d stop by the old blog and talk about… what else? Resolutions and what I expect out of the year.
- Health – Like everyone else in this world, I first and foremost
wantNEED to get my health in check this year. I have many reasons for this besides the fact that I want to look good. For starters, our convalidation (wedding) ceremony is planned for next year, and I need to be at a good weight to… dun dun dun, start having babies. C and I have started (officially, today) to do the Ketogenic diet after seeing amazing results from my cousin. We’ll see how this goes.
- Career – If things go perfectly this year, I’d be working a full-time job in a field relevant to my degree. That’s hoping for a lot, but it’s still the goal.
- Travel – I have to make room for travel goals or else it won’t happen. This year, we’ve decided that we absolutely have to go to Lake Tahoe, Cabo, Hawaii for Christmas, and one other city (possibly New Orleans, Chicago, or Washington DC) before the year is over.
- Etc. – Some other things I want to do this year: write a will with C, read more, write more, keep track of all the movies/books/music I enjoy, call my parents more often, and do an hour of Tagalog and Ilocano every day. Self-improvement is the theme.
This year, I’m officially in wedding planning mode, which is so exciting. After three years of marriage and six years of talking about the wedding we always wanted, it’s finally happening! Next weekend, C and I are headed back to Hawaii for my cousin’s funeral. I figure we’d do some wedding planning while we’re there. A few days ago, I learned that the Hawaii Bridal Expo is happening the same weekend, so we’re going to stop by. We’re also going to check out the reception venue we had in mind.
C is planning on going back into the military, but the Reserves instead. He also has training for his job lined up. This either means more long distance for us or more opportunities for us to travel, depending on whether or not I decide to follow him (because, fortunately, I can!) This also means that this year I am forced to be more independent. I’m thankful to have some friends here in San Diego now to help me cope with the loneliness.
That’s all I’ll cover for now. I hope everyone has a fantastic 2018.
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.
99% 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!
Now 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.
Click to expand thumbnails
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.
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.
The way I grieve is by writing. When I try to talk, I usually start sobbing. Or, I just have too much to say throughout the day and it feels like I just don’t get over it that way. So, I turn to my blogs, seeking a place to remember my loved one. I turn to the internet to share my feelings.
Yesterday, my cousin took his own life.
I have been sporadically crying throughout the day, including this morning. I’m trying not to think about him, but I also don’t want to stop thinking about him.
B was three years younger than me, the same age as my younger brother. They were supposed to be “the pair,” since they were the same age, but B was quiet. He was reserved. He kept to himself at parties. He struggled with a lot of health problems since he was born, and it became a lifetime of medications and restrictions. He was studying to become a nurse, but we never really knew if that’s what he wanted or if that’s what he was just expected to go into.
He was my cousin on my dad’s side, the side that I barely knew. B and his younger brother were the only cousins on my dad’s side that we had in Hawaii, so it was always just us. They were my other brothers. I always saw B as my brother.
My brothers didn’t find similarities with him as much as they did with his younger brother, but I took a liking to him. I, too, liked to keep quiet, although never as quiet as him. One thing that we often went through with our Moon side was the dreaded family trips to Philippines. We all hated it, but we all went through it. We all followed our parents around, letting them lead us around in a foreign country surrounded by a language we barely knew and kept close to each other because of it. I’d always find comfort in B. We once spent a week in the Philippines staying indoors together, him reading his Game of Thrones book and me reading my books, instead of mingling with our family like we should have been.
Then, he’d speak. He was so funny. He kept making GoT references, comparing everything I talked about or what happened around us to events in the book. I couldn’t stop laughing. He was so quick, so witty, so smart when he opened his mouth. He was deathly allergic to peanuts, and when he saw that there were peanut snacks on our table, he picked each package up in front of us and threw them away. “No need to thank me. I just saved us all.”
I always talked to him, asked him how he was doing, kept him company even in silence. I laughed at his comments. I encouraged him to be himself around me. I knew he was different. I wanted, hoped to God, for him to know that I liked him the way he was, or that I was a cousin he could talk to if he wanted to. I always knew he was struggling internally with many things, but I couldn’t force him to open up to me. I did only what I thought I could do. And now, I wish I could have done more.
As it was, we had no idea how much pain he was in. Never in our lives would we have expected this to happen. He left behind his parents who had done everything his whole life to make him as comfortable as possible, a younger brother, and cousins on both sides who loved him more than anything. It really makes you think that no amount of people in your life will make you feel less alone when it comes to depression. I still don’t understand it. I’m having trouble processing that my cousin, my brother… is gone. Just like that.
The whole ordeal makes me think about my real brothers, who I’m thankfully very close to. We call each other to vent, we hang out, we talk about our feelings. I make sure that my brothers know I’m here. I don’t care what you know or think you know about your siblings or loved ones; the truth is, you don’t know anything unless you take the time out to talk to them and spend time with them. I can’t imagine losing one of them to something as tragic as suicide.
Next week will be the one year anniversary of my grandma’s passing. She went naturally. There was nothing else that medicine or science could’ve done — it was her time, it was coming and we knew it. The same with my other grandma the year before that. The holidays have become a time of loss for us.
I’ve lost a lot of family over the years, but yesterday was the first time I lost someone to something like this.
If you, or anyone you know, are suffering from suicidal thoughts, please don’t hesitate to talk to someone. You are never alone. You have a family, you have friends, and if you don’t, you have the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Call 1-800-273-8255. You are loved, wanted, and here for a reason.
To my cousin, I hope you finally found the peace you were looking for. I’ll always miss you.
Try not to get sand in your rice.
Ever since leaving home at 18, the one question I always get after telling people I’m from Hawaii is, “Why would you leave?!”
I smile politely as I prepare to repeat, for the thousandth time, my reasoning. The same reasoning that many other Hawaii residents spew when they decide to move away from home.
That’s the thing, too: Hawaii will always be home. No matter how long I’ve been away, albeit seven years or 20 years, I will always say “I’m going home!” whenever I visit.
So, reasons why I (personally) left Hawai’i.
- I wanted more for myself.
When I was 18, I was at the top of my game (oh gosh, here’s me realizing I peaked in high school! Aack!) being President of the school, sporting a novel of an extracurricular resume, and one of maybe five kids of my 650-student graduating class going to college on the East Coast. I worked hard my four years of high school — nay, my entire grade school career, and in the end, I believed I could do better than staying at home for college, or staying in the same environment I grew up in. I wanted a challenge.
- I wanted to experience something new.
Living in Hawaii means living in a slow-paced and consistent world. Our weather is the same all year round, rain comes and goes in minutes, no such thing as Fall or Winter. The island is so small that it’s impossible to not run into someone you know, even when you’re on the other side of the island. I’ve even run into people I met from Maui and Big Island hanging out in Oahu for a weekend. For once, I wanted something different. I wanted to know no one, to experience seasons, and to live in a city and walk or take cabs and trains wherever I needed to.
- I wanted to be different.
People from Hawaii tended to stay home. It was safe, familiar, full of family. The culture in Hawaii is so different from the mainland, and I loved how I grew up as it shaped who I am today, but it there’s so much of the world I would’ve never known about if I never left. A lot of my graduating class stayed in Hawaii for college, and if you don’t take advantage of it right, they say it ends up feeling like extended high school. I wanted to separate myself from my life in Hawaii (it didn’t turn out the way I expected it to, but I really did become a different person).
- I wanted to travel.
Of course, you can travel from wherever you are, but it’s easier in the mainland. In college, I went to New York, Massachusets, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington DC with no issue. Through my college’s study abroad program, I got to travel to England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, and Holland. Since being here in California, we’ve done road trips to Arizona, Nevada, and so many places around California in general (it’s a big state). Flying to Colorado was cheaper from San Diego than it would be from Hawaii. It’s just so much easier to get around. In Hawaii, you’re stuck on an island. The closest place you can travel to is another island, which is a 20-minute plane ride. Otherwise, a trip to the West Coast takes at least 5 hours. Nothing shorter.
- I always knew Hawaii would be there if anything went wrong.
Leaving is easy when you know you have a fallback. The challenge is committing to the idea. My Sophomore year of college, I wanted to transfer to a school back in Hawaii. I ended up hating my college (maybe a post on that later) and didn’t want to deal with the people, the cold, and who I became after transferring to my school. I got through it though, and I’m thankful I did. It was comforting to know that if all else failed, I could be back home. In some weird way it helped me to push through the days I hated in college. Now that I’m in California, although I’m lonely and lacking friends, being able to visit Hawaii at least once or twice a year since moving here makes it easier to be here. I am considering moving back, but for now, being here is worth it.
In the end, my reasons for leaving all came down to a craving for something different. Some people are happy staying in the same place, and in a way, I understand that. As a person who’s had to move every year the past seven years (either to a new dorm, a new apartment, or a new state) staying in the same place to finally put down some roots sounds like a dream.
I always tell the people who fight my reasonings that they don’t know what it’s like to be from Hawaii, to be from a place you simultaneously love and dread at the same time. A lot of people back home know the feeling. It’s always “I want to get off this rock” only to find that there’s no place like the rock, no place at all.
I’m 25 years old, three years out of college, doing interim jobs in order to… not exactly survive, but just to do something with myself. I haven’t been happy in a long time.
I’m so lucky in the fact that C has a federal job, and even more lucky in the fact that he doesn’t mind supporting my bum self while I figure things out.
I graduated college with a Communication degree. In high school, I was very involved with graphic design. I didn’t think I was great at it, but other people did. I became a yearbook layout editor, I entered competitions (and won some), I made graduation programs, I even made invitations for a lot of my graduating friends.
My Filipino self refused to go to an art school. I thought a Communication degree was a nice medium.
I declared my Advertising concentration my Sophomore year of college, after joining the Advertising club and meeting a Senior on his way to Chicago Portfolio School. I learned about Art Direction and Copywriting, fell in love with “Creatives,” and believed I could succeed.
At first, I thought I’d be an Art Director. With my graphic design past, it only made sense. I never admitted it to anyone, but after a while, I wasn’t confident with my skills anymore. They were basic compared to others. I still earned a graphic design certificate, but I worked towards an English minor too. I started to write more. I started to appreciate the words in commercials more than the visuals, and decided that I would work towards becoming a Copywriter. I fought our department Dean for the Advanced Copywriting class to be offered so I could get as much as I could out of my liberal-arts college. I was going to be a Creative, no matter what.
I graduated college and spent a year in Hawai’i working, saving up to move out again with my husband. I found a Portfolio School in San Diego, fell in love, and saved up enough to enroll.
The year ended and we moved. I worked a crappy job at the zoo to make money. I contacted the portfolio school. I interviewed with the head of the studio. I made plans to start becoming what I wanted.
And then, I did.
I went to portfolio school to work towards becoming a Copywriter.
I did what I worked for. I did what I said I was going to do.
I. Did. It.
But, after almost a year taking classes, I realized I didn’t belong there.
I had the motivation. I had the ambition. I did work every single day, I stayed up for hours, I did everything they say a Copywriter should do in order to maximize idea potential.
The truth was, I inherently was not a “Creative.”
I love graphic design, I love writing, but I love order within it. I’m creative with parameters. My copywriting peers were witty on the spot, came up with these crazy ideas with a single word. I needed time to think. I needed examples. I needed rules, otherwise I didn’t know what I was doing.
One of my copywriting instructors praised me on being able to write formulaic lines, but it meant I couldn’t stray from one idea to another. The school’s founder sat me down and told me I needed to start thinking faster, because how I was doing now wouldn’t cut it in the industry.
I started to freak out. This was what I had wanted. This was my path for the past five years, and all of a sudden… it wasn’t me. I stopped taking classes. I said my goodbyes to the department heads and said, “I’m hoping to be back soon,” even though I knew it was the end.
Since then, I’ve been in a rut.
Now… I don’t know who I am. I don’t really know what I want anymore.
We’ve been in San Diego for almost three years now, and day after day I don’t know what I’m doing here. I came to the mainland for better career opportunities, but now, I don’t even know what career I should be headed towards.
To be honest, I’m still searching. I’m still trying to find something about myself that works and can be translated to a career. I’m also trying to find what works in terms of happiness. Is a career everything to me? Or do I just need more money to survive?
I don’t know. As of now, I am in the ruttiest of ruts, but trust that I’m trying to climb out of it.
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.