Some of my family — brother, cousins, aunty and uncle — in Philippines.
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 Ancestry.com 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.
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. 23andMe 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.