I’ve always been curious about my ethnicity. When people asked in the past, I usually said that I’m American. When pressed, I generally follow up with “I’m all mixed up. my Dad’s white and my Mom’s from the Philippines.” If only I knew how truly mixed I was!
Pictured: My father, myself, and my mother at Luneta Park in Manila, Philippines.
Growing up, I didn’t know much about my Dad’s side of the family. I knew we were Parker’s and White’s, and those names are from England. Speaking to my Great Aunt’s or my Grandparents, I’ve heard generalities in regards to our family origin. There was the catch all term, “from the old country.” I’ve also heard German at times, but not much else. We don’t know how long my Dad’s side has been in the States. I only knew that my Grandfather was from Pennsylvania and my Grandmother was from Kentucky. And both of their parents were also from their respective states.
As for my Mom’s side of the family, it’s pretty self evident. They’re from the Philippines and that’s it. There was an old story I heard as a child that we have Spaniard ancestors, but nothing I could confirm. Basically, all I knew is that I was half white and half Asian, or as I like to call it; 100% American. Then I discovered 23andme.
I’ve seen the commercials and read some stories about people discovering ancestry that they didn’t know they had. It peaked my curiosity. Maybe, just maybe, I could find out more about my ethnic background. I know I’m half white, but is it all British? Do I have Spanish ancestry on my Mom’s side? Who knows… So, I decided to purchase a kit and see what I could find out. I received it, spit into a tube, and mailed the kit back. Now, it was time to wait for the findings. I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to find out.
I am 45% Filipino & Austronesian with ties to 5 other populations. Okay… I knew about the Filipino part, but 45%? Shouldn’t that be 50%? My mother is from Manila… She has to be 100% Filipino right? And what about my Dad’s side? Shouldn’t I be 50% European? So why is the majority of my ancestry Filipino and not British? I couldn’t wait to see what my DNA results had to say.
Once I opened the link, a blue & red map with other lighter shades popped up with my European results first. I found that I was 53.6% European. There were also a few percentages of broad European ancestry. I won’t go into the broad part, it only means that some portions of my European DNA matches several more specific populations and can’t be assigned to just one people or place. I believe this is because of migrations in the distant past as well as me having European immigrant ancestors in America marrying other European immigrant ancestors. A German may have married a Brit, who had an offspring who married a Danish person. Their offspring may have married a person of German decent. Their child may have grown up to marry a person of part Irish and Dutch heritage.
I was taken a back. I assumed that my white side was British with maybe a small percentage of Irish. What I found is that my European ancestry is more diverse than I ever could have imagined. I’m 30.1% British & Irish from the United Kingdom. The rest surprised me.
I’m 6.6% French & German. That made sense, I’ve heard Germany mentioned once or twice before. I’ve heard that my Grandfather had a grandparent from “the old country” which I can now safely assume could be Germany because he comes from the part of Pennsylvania that has a historic large German population. He’s from Pennsylvania Dutch country, and many of his childhood friends were of that background.
I’m 6.3% Scandinavian. That came out of nowhere. I have very close ancestry then from Denmark or the other Nordic countries. I couldn’t believe it. That’s a much closer relative than I thought. It’s not a distant Viking ancestor from the early 1000’s, but a great great great parent or so.
I’m 2.7% Iberian. Now this one made me think. I can’t see Spanish or Portuguese ancestry on my Dad’s side. And since it’s on the European side, it has to be my Dad right? Nope. I realized that my overall percentage of European is a little over 50% and my overall percentage of Asian is a little under 50%. That points to my Mom having a Iberian/Spanish ancestor, not my Dad. That makes sense, because when the 2.7% is added to my Asian side and deducted from my Dad’s European side, both overall numbers come closer to 50%. So, its a safe bet to say that my Mom’s side has Spanish ancestry.
I’m 0.9% Ashkenazi Jewish. What now? Where is that at, and Jewish? I have a direct ancestor anywhere from a 3rd Great Grandparent to a 6th Great Grandparent who was Ashkenazi Jewish? I was floored. I know nothing of this population. I looked it up and found that the Ashkenazi Jewish people are found in Germany and Eastern Europe. They’re distinct from the Jewish people who continuously lived in the Middle East throughout history as well as the Jewish people who are from the Iberian peninsula. They are also the main group of Jewish peoples who were almost exterminated during the Holocaust. That was a punch in the gut.
Obviously, my ancestor came to America well before the 1930’s and 1940’s, but they must have had brothers, sisters, aunt’s or uncle’s who stayed back in Germany. I possibly have distant relatives who suffered during the Second World War… It puts a whole new perspective on things. I’m going to have to do more research this population, so I can learn more about what makes me, me.
After seeing my European percentages, I came to my Asian percentage; which states that I’m 46.2% East Asian & Native American.
Out of that 46.2% East Asian & Native American, I’m 45% Filipino & Austronesian. The Native American part threw me off for a second, but when I saw how little of a percentage I had of Broad East Asian & Native American ancestry, I knew it had to be from a very very distant ancestor whose family migrated into Asia and spread south, while others in the family went over the Bering Strait into North America. It was nice to see the confirmation that part of my Mom’s ethnicity has to be Spanish. I have heard in the past that how I look now; light skin tone, green eyes, and brown hair, that I resemble a few of my mother’s great Uncles from Manila.
Also, I have some broad Chinese and broad Southeast Asian ancestry. That shouldn’t be surprising as to the fact that the people who came into Asia had to go through China and Southeast Asia before they got to the Philippines. The part that surprised me most was the unassigned percentage. 0.2% doesn’t seem like a high percentage, but having DNA ancestry that can’t be assigned to a specific population makes you think. Maybe I have ancestry from a population in Asia that 23andme doesn’t have much data on yet. Who knows.
Overall, I was very satisfied with 23andme. The results were released to me within a week of the company receiving my DNA sample. It was very fast. I learned more about my ancestry in five minutes than I’ve learned in 35 years. I found out that yes I am half white, a little bit more than half, but I’m more than just the color. I can now say that I’m British, Irish, German, Scandinavian, Jewish, Spanish, and Filipino. Technically I’m more Filipino than anything else. I’m the embodiment of the American melting pot.
Not only did I order a kit from 23andme, I also ordered a kit from Ancestry. Once I get the results from that kit, I will see if there are any differences and write a follow up article on the findings. So far, Ancestry is taking twice as long as 23andMe took to complete and compile my ancestry report. Apparently, Ancestry has more participants, so they can be more specific on your ancestry. 23andme may not be as encompassing when it comes to ancestry, but they have something that people might find interesting. You can order additional health reports that are gleaned from your DNA.
I’m also happy to report that after finding out about my ancestral DNA, I’ve started a family tree on Ancestry. I’ve been able to find members of my Dad’s side of my family that goes back generations by checking U.S. Census records. I’ve even found the ancestor who was Ashkenazi Jewish who came from Germany on my grandmother’s side. Her side also included direct British and direct Irish ancestors. I’ve found ancestors who listed their place of birth as Denmark while others listed Germany as their birth place on my grandfather’s side.
I’ve also found that my direct Parker lineage goes all the way back to the New Haven Colony in Connecticut during the 1600’s. Many of my direct and related ancestors served in the US military like I did. Including my combat deployment, my Dad’s side has fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, WWII, WWI, the Spanish American War, the Civil War, the War of 1812, and the Revolutionary War. Some may have fought overseas while others could have just been mustered into a militia or stateside location during a war. I haven’t seen any records yet on any ancestor’s service during the Mexican American War, but I still have time and lots of records to search.
Sadly, I haven’t found much on my Mom’s side. The Spaniards didn’t keep detailed records on the Filipinos they ruled over and then many records that were kept, were lost during World War II. I can’t find anything past my Great Grandparents on my Mom’s side other than what I’ve been told by word of mouth from family members. I do know that my Grandfather proudly served in the Philippine military under the US Army and fought the Japanese until he was surrendered and captured after the fall of Bataan. He survived the Bataan Death March and went on to have a large family and a long life.
One last thing to note is that 23andme also provided information about my paternal haplogroup and my maternal haplogroup. They also found variants of Neanderthal DNA in my DNA. I could also see other 23andme customers who are DNA relatives of mine but won’t include pictures of them to respect their privacy.
-Copyright December 01, 2018. PRP3 The Author Media