Tagged: family

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!


Timeline

  • 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.

Results

23andMe

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).

WeGene

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…

GEDmatch

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.

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Rest in Love, My Dear Cousin.

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. img_6647.jpg

Homesick.

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 Ones We’ve Lost

Today is Memorial Day. I know it’s supposed to remember those we’ve lost in war, but my family has taken it to remember all the ones we’ve lost in general. No disrespect or anything. We’ve just…lost a lot of people.

I think the first person in my family to pass away was my maternal grandpa in 1996, when I was four years old. I don’t remember much of him, just that he gave me a necklace that I wore daily until I lost it when I was six. My mom brought me to Philippines for his funeral, and in Filipino tradition, they threw me over his coffin before they buried him. I had no idea what was going on.

A year or two later, my dad’s eldest sister passed away from cancer. She was living in Chicago and left behind my four cousins who were around my age range. We all flew to Chicago for the funeral and I didn’t really know how to feel since I didn’t remember meeting her.

Later, two of my cousins passed away on a visit to Philippines just days apart from each other. One was two years older than me, the other my age. I barely remember my interactions with them (they were just six years old and eight years old when it happened), but to this day I can’t help but wonder what life would’ve been like if they made it. We would’ve been so close. One of them would’ve gone to high school with me and graduated with me, then there would’ve been four Garcia’s in Campbell High School’s Class of 2010. It would’ve been amazing. Their lives were over before it ever really began.

When I was in the sixth grade, my cousin got into a fatal car accident. He was 21. Today’s his birthday, actually — he would’ve been 35 years old today. That might’ve been my first fully comprehensible experience with death. I remember waking up at some ungodly hour of the morning — 3 am? 4 am? — and my mom rushing us out of the house and to the hospital, saying that my Manong Arthur had died. I thought she was overreacting. We got to the hospital and when I saw my cousin, the one who took me to my dentist appointments when my parents couldn’t, babysat us, let me come over to play with his new puppy, let me come over just to play Legend of Mana or Paper Mario on his N64 because we weren’t allowed to have video games…I panicked. We lived down the street from each other and I couldn’t understand that I wouldn’t be seeing him anymore. Life changed a lot after his death.

Years later, my mom’s brother in the Philippines passed away. I didn’t know him very well. She didn’t bring us to the funeral. Another year later, my dad’s brother in the Philippines passed away in a motorcycle accident. He didn’t bring us to the funeral either. Already, loss had started to become regular in their lives. My paternal grandfather passed away before I was born.

Several years later when I was 16, my mom’s other brother (she is the second youngest of 12, with a mere four of them being brothers) passed away from cancer (can’t remember what kind it was, but I know it was cancer). He was loud when he was drunk (which was often) and loved to sing karaoke. I didn’t see him at the hospital. His two eldest kids who had moved to Las Vegas on their own years before came back to Hawai’i for it. It was then that I realized that death was what brought my close family even closer.

One by one, we would be gone, and because there was so many of us, we had to grow thicker skin each time.

In 2013, my mom’s sister passed away. I was visiting home on one of my summer breaks from college. She and my mom were extremely close; when she was still a child, my mom took a 10 hour bus ride from Isabela to Ilocos and my aunty raised her herself, paying for her school all the way through college until my mom decided to move to Hawai’i with her other siblings. Because of that, my aunty was a big part of my life. I had so many photos with her, admired her love for traveling, and always marveled at the way she kept a calm and reposed personality amongst the craziness of my mother and other aunties. “Your aunty was my best friend,” my mom told me in tears, and I knew this was the worst loss she had so far (and probably to this day). I dreamt about her often after her death, and even now her absence feels foreign.

Then, in 2015, the unthinkable happened. My maternal grandma, at 93, passed away in Philippines. My grandma was everything to me, and it was naive of any of us to see her as immortal. She was the strongest woman that any of us ever saw. She lived through the death of her husband, three children, and three grandchildren…why couldn’t she live forever? This mother of 12, grandmother of 42, great grandmother of 38, great-great grandmother of five, loved to tell stories, laugh at jokes, and enjoy the world around her. We were very close, which means a lot from being one of 42 grandchildren. Her passing hit all of us hard. I was lucky enough to fly to Philippines for her funeral with my mom and aunties and see her laid to rest next to my grandpa after more than 20 years. I miss her everyday, to this day.

And now, just recently, my paternal grandmother passed away, making me grandparent-less. I have so much I can say about it. She actually lived with us since I was kid. When my dad’s sister was the only sibling he had in Hawai’i, grandma would go there on the weekends and stay with us throughout the week. She loved to sew and crochet, always sewing up our blankets and pillows when we ripped them, knitting us doilies and anything she felt like we needed. She was harder on me than my other cousins or my brothers, which I still don’t understand. She and my mom had a weird relationship, but after 20+ years of living together, her death left my mom in so many tears. We all flew to Philippines for her funeral, where I cried harder than at my other grandma’s funeral, despite me being closer to my other grandma. She was just always there and I couldn’t believe it finally happened. I still can’t believe she’s gone.

My husband never really lost anyone he was close to. When we started dating, he attended my aunty’s funeral with me and it was the first one he’d been to as an adult. I’ve already been to quite a few in my life and I know eventually it’ll be endless. My parents started having the “If I die, this is what you need to do…” talks with us a long time ago. Death is still a scary concept to me but all I can do is try to understand as I get older.

If I was back in Hawai’i, I’d be spending my Memorial Day at the cemetery with my family, celebrating the lives we’ve loved and lost. Today, I’m remembering all my family members who’ve gone, because to be forgotten is worse than death. Miss you all.