Recently my wife and I did one of those genealogy tests from ancestrydna.com to find out more about ourselves and allow science to help tell our story when we share our family history with our children. Daya was fairly confident she was 100% Filipino. After reading A History of the Philippines by Luis H. Francia, I wondered if perhaps there may be some hidden Spanish ancestry since they colonized the country for 333 years. With the Philippines’ complicated history, there could have been Chinese or even Japanese ancestry as well. As for myself, I was always told I was a mutt, with ethnicities ranging primarily from western Europe but reaching all the way to early America with a bit of Native American ancestry as well. It was hard for me to know if the people in the family I grew up with really knew what they were talking about when stories of ancestry came up.  Having never met my biological father, I couldn’t know anything about the paternal side of my family tree. To complicate matters, my mother was put up for adoption with no contact with her biological family until just a few years ago. Until then, I hadn’t known anything about the maternal side of my family either.

Reasoning for Taking a Genealogy Test

Curiosity.  Having been physically disconnected from both sides of my biological families I just wanted to know more about myself. Since Daya had the advantage of growing up with with all of her family it wasn’t as big of a concern of hers but she knew seeing my results was important to me and encouraged me to do so.  The main areas of interest I am looking for beyond genealogy are family history of health, mental illness, education, personality, professions, among other things. Basically, I want to know how my piece of the puzzle fits in the whole scheme of things and what types of health-related issues I and my family are prone to. Our daughter Isabella was born with congenital heart disease and it took both Daya and I by surprise and quite frankly changed my whole perspective on life. What other issues should I be aware of so that we can mitigate as necessary if at all possible?  When I was young I lost much of my hearing due to sickness. Now that I know how prone to ear infections I was as a child, my immediate reaction was to take my daughter, Cassidy to the doctor any time she complained of an ear ache.

Results

After a few weeks of anticipation, Daya and I finally got our results back. Hers arrived first and she was right: 100% Filipino. I mean, it makes sense but I was still hoping for a surprise due to her rock solid confidence.

Daya's AncestryDNA Results
Daya was born and raised in the Visayan region of the Philippines which is in the central part of the 7000+ island country.

On American television, Filipinos, mainly women, are at times portrayed in a negative light which I find very surprising because when you understand Filipino culture you come to realize they are some of the most genuine, kind and hospitable people on earth. A lot of Filipinos admire America too (especially our celebrities) and in many ways their culture is modeled off ours. Of course, there are quite a few differences as well and it’s in those that add to the quality of an already truly unique people.

Now it was my turn to see my ethnical make up. To my surprise, most of what I’d been told was fairly accurate. There were a couple things though that I didn’t expect. For instance, they estimate that about 8% of my of my ethnicity comes from the Iberian Peninsula. I also expected to see a higher percentage of Native American ancestry but the results show only 4%.

Brett's DNA Story
For years I’ve wanted to discover my ethnical history and this year I finally followed through on that goal.

When I look at the dynamics of different people from all over the world that eventually made me who I am, I’m left fascinated at how much travel took place for that to happen. Adding Daya to the mix only makes the family tree more diverse and dynamic. Cassidy and Isabella have quite the mixture.

AncestryDNA is pretty interesting. I’ve talked with two people so far whom I share a biological relation. It’s mostly small chat. No plans to meet long lost relatives or anything but it’s still fascinating talking to someone that belongs in your biological family tree.

Feeling a Little Leery

There were a few things holding me back from taking a genealogy test. To me, it’s more personal than providing your bank your social security number. My question was, who has access to my data and how are they using it? One concern is that these companies could come to find out more about me than I know about myself then sell my information to some marketing firm and next thing you know I’ve got a targeted ad with a deal I can’t refuse only because some high tech company has discovered a way into my inner psyche. What if it’s worse though and they can tell if I’m prone to a certain behavior during a particular circumstance and then somehow place me in that situation? I know, I know. This is the thinking of a conspiracy-minded person but one of the major reasons I deleted most of my social media (more on that in another post) was because of the massive amount of greed and lack of protection of privacy on the part of these platforms. Cambridge Analytica, anyone?

Genealogy Tests Used to Solve Crimes

Duh. They’ve been using DNA forensic testing for years. What I really mean to say is, investigators have been taking advantage of genealogy testing companies like the one we went through and using DNA evidence to arrest criminals, one at least that has been on the run for decades. There are indeed privacy concerns that exist and to be honest I haven’t really looked much into this part of genealogy testing. My initial thought is, as long as investigators are able to acquire a search warrant and have permission from relatives to look through their DNA database, go ahead.  I want my neighborhood to be as safe as any other.

Satisfied with the Results

With all things said, I’m glad we took a genealogy test. Telling Isabella she has half Filipino and a mixture of western European descent having the science to prove it will be a fun discussion. Small chat with unknown relatives is pretty cool too. As stated earlier, we chose AncestryDNA but I hear good things about 23andMe too. Perhaps one day we will try out a different company to build a more complete profile.

I’m interested to hear from others who have done these tests about your experiences. Any surprises? Any new connections made? Do you prefer one test over another?