Wednesday, January 3, 2018

I Am Southeast Asian, North Slavic, Sardinian, Dravidian, and 10 more Ethnicities...How About You?

This is not my first article on genetic genealogy. In fact, I have already posted a rather long article on my maternal grandfather's Y-DNA story, which was mostly taken from the report I got from National Geographic's Genographic Project. Today, I will simply and briefly discuss on my latest discoveries about genetics and ethnic makeup, but I plan to write a more indepth article on genetic genealogy in general and about further discussion on my own genetic genealogy.

Having researched my family history since 1994 and after already exhausting all available written documents about my family's history, I decided to expand my quest for my ancestors by trying out genetic genealogy. While this has been in the market for some years now, it was only in the late 2010s that the tests became more readily available at a much affordable rates. And, as more and more people became interested in using DNA to trace one's family history deeper into time, more companies came up with better test results at a much faster timeline. So, I decided that the fastest way for me to get results on my family's genetics was through asking a sibling of my parents in the United States to do it since many of the genetic genealogy companies are found there. Take note, however, that these tests would only show their approximate ethnic breakdown which may be slightly or very different if I were to test my mother or father instead. However, since I am not interested for now to know MY own specific genetic breakdown and simply wanted to get an idea of where both my families are from, I was okay with that caveat.

So in 2014 I asked my mom's brother, and he graciously agreed to do so, to take the National Geographic Genographic test, the results of which I already discussed in an earlier post. When Ancestry had a sale on DNA testing late 2016, I once again requested the same uncle to take the test. An uncle is better than an aunt because, in the weird world of genetics, a man has both Y-DNA and mtDNA, meaning males inherit the Y-DNA from his father and the mtDNA from his mother, while a woman does not inherit the Y-DNA. So up until last year I already had an idea of what approximately made up half of my genes. Late in 2017, when MyHeritage had a sale on their DNA testing I requested a brother of my dad to take the test. Again, like my mom's brother, my paternal uncle also agreed to take the test immediately. The results came as the new year was starting, so what better way to start 2018 than discuss these results.

Presenting, my APPROXIMATE ethnic breakdown!

An approximation of my genetic breakdown

Take note, this is not a very scientific way of estimating genetic results. As I will discuss more later, it is a quirk in the passing down of genes that though we get genetic materials from both our mother and father, the percentage may not always be the case. So, if your mother is Filipino and your father is Indian, it does not automatically mean you are half Filipino and half Indian, per se. It is a reality that you may only get a quarter of your father's Indian genes and have more Filipino genes from your mother.  While for the sake of simple illustration you can quantify it as such, current technology has not made it possible to give us the exact breakdown of our parents' ethnicities.

But again, this post is an introductory post of sorts so I will dispense with the scientific realities and discuss my genetic results like any regular, non-scietific person.

What the image below, which is an enlarged portion of the image above, shows is that I am approximately almost exclusively Asian. 

A huge percentage of my approximate genetic breakdown is East Asian at 90%. My East Asian ethnicity is both from my maternal and paternal families, broken down into Southeast Asian, Taiwanese, and Central Chinese from both of my parents, and Cambodian/Thai, Japanese/Korean, and Siberian exclusively from my maternal family.

Around 4.35% of who I am is West Eurasian. That means partly being Central Asian (which includes Indus Valley and Mid-Turkic), North Slavic, and Sardinian. Then around 1.15% of my West Eurasian ethnicity is, according to DNALand, "ambiguous". This just means that they cannot compare this portion of my mom's genetic material to any existing gene pool in their database. As later articles on other genetic companies' results will show, this "ambiguous" percentage has disappeared.

Both sides of the family also gave me Native Oceanian genes. Then, less than 1% Dravidian and another less than 1% ambiguoss ethnicity I received from my father's genes.

Based on the percentages I have shown, I simply averaged the genetic percentages of my mother and father's sides. 

As many genetic experts will tell you, these percentages are not accurate but are simply approximation. I promise to discuss more on genetic genealogy as this has become quite a fast-growing tool for many Filipino genealogists. For now, suffice it to say that I had fun calculating my probable and approximate genetic breakdown. Discovering one's ancestry breakdown, even just an approximation, is a spiritual experience. The world becomes smaller and smaller as you delve deeper into your roots. Finding that you have genetic similarities with people from other nations makes you realize that humanity really is but one big family. Despite the vastness of our planet, I would never feel alone anymore.

Happy New Year!

Note: The presentation above is based on the results given by DNALand. As discussed, I will add more to my discussion on genetic genealogy in the next few weeks.

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