Best DNA Test for Filipino Ancestry

Despite having a land area of no more than 300,000 square kilometers, the Philippines’ population has reached a whopping 110 million worldwide. That includes Filipinos residing in their own native country and those who have sought greener pastures abroad. So yes, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve found some Filipino blood in your heritage.

It can be a curious thing to discover a brand new truth about yourself through your family’s ancestry. Fortunately these days, there are at-home tests you can take to explore that Filipino lineage and quench the questions in your head. The 23andMe DNA test is one that offers supreme insight that can help you uncover more about yourself and that unexpected Filipino ancestry.

Learn more about your Filipino heritage, how it changed through the years, and why 23andMe beats other tests in uncovering this specific ethnic ancestry.

23andMe DNA Test Overview

Autosomal testYes, plus 23 rd chromosome testing
YDNA testLimited
mtDNA testLimited
Ethnic regions1,500+
Database size10000000
Haplogroup detectionGeneralized only
Family matching featureAvailable
Collection sampleSaliva
Processing time6-8 weeks
WebsiteSee it here
PricesStart at $99 USD

What DNA Test Options Do You Have for Filipino Ancestry?

While 23andMe comes out on top as our best bet for the ideal direct-to-consumer DNA test for uncovering more about your Filipino heritage, there are a few others that might work in your favor. Understanding how each of these tests differ should lead you to a choice that’s better suited to your needs and purpose.

1. 23andMe

As our top pick, 23andMe serves up a wealth of features that make it especially helpful for Filipino ancestry. With over 1,500+ regions, this testing service includes the Philippines as one of the reference regions in its database. That means that if you’re found to have Filipino ethnicity, the country will appear in your results as opposed to a generalized ‘Southeast Asian’ marker or something similar.

It also helps to know that the 23andMe DNA test is the most popular direct-to-consumer test for Filipinos residing in their native country. The accessibility of the test to Filipino locals means that their database contains the largest group of native Filipinos. So if you were looking for potential family matches, then 23andMe offers the largest pool of tested Filipinos.

2. AncestryDNA

Coming in at a close second to the 23andMe DNA test is AncestryDNA. This testing service has been offering their test since 2012, and provides their users autosomal DNA testing that’s ideal for finding potential family matches. Their database spans a whopping 15 million registered tested users, making it the largest pool of DNA samples in the direct-to-consumer DNA testing market.

As of 2018, AncestryDNA included the Philippines as one of the dedicated regions in their database. So just like 23andMe, you’re likely to see ‘Filipino’ listed as an ethnicity if the test finds the lineage in your sample. The only downside is that the test isn’t quite as popular in the Philippines as 23andMe so you might not be able to access such a large pool of tested Filipinos.

3. FamilyTreeDNA

Although FamilyTreeDNA doesn’t breakdown the Southeast Asian region into more specific subregions, it does make a suitable test for Filipino ancestry for two reasons. First, it’s the only direct-to-consumer test among the most popular brands in the market that offers YDNA and mtDNA testing. Second, it offers users the opportunity to join dedicated Filipino communities that aim to unravel their ethnicity through joint research.

Through FamilyTreeDNA, you can trace your paternal and maternal lineage to discover where the Filipino heritage lies specifically. Of course, this might mean having to take multiple tests and enlisting the help of your relatives to paint a complete picture and pinpoint the exact route of your ethnic roots. But there is no more comprehensive method than these far-reaching tests.

Why Filipino Ancestry Can Be Tricky

To better understand the challenges of decoding Filipino ancestry, it’s important that we take some time to consider the population’s history. Throughout the centuries, the Philippines has been the focal point of foreign invasion, having been under the occupation of Japan, Spain, and the United States for periods throughout its history. This was mainly due to the fact that the Philippines’ location on the world map is strategic, making it a prized territory during war times.

Taking a look at the native population, it’s not hard to see that the features of the people who reside in the country are far less Asian. Strong Iberian influences during the Spanish colonial period dominated the native blood of the Filipino locals, creating a shift in physical features that turned what looked mostly like a negroid race into an ethnically ambiguous people.

But more than their features, this combination of various races also means that you might find other ethnicities popping up in your DNA test results. It’s not unlikely for Iberian, North American, and Japanese ethnicities to show up alongside your Filipino results, especially if the lineage is strong enough to take up a chunk of your ethnic make-up.

Tips for Filipino Ancestry Testing

The mixture of races that make up the Filipino ethnicity make it especially difficult to understand. So it helps to know what you should pay attention to and how you should go about your test to get the best out of your results.

Here are some tricks on how to maximize your outcomes and fully understand your Filipino ethnicity:

Opt for an mtDNA or YDNA test

YDNA and mtDNA tests reach farther into your family history than autosomal tests. These test types can shed light on your most distant relatives because they consider DNA samples that remain generally unchanged for centuries.

If you want to make the most of your YDNA and mtDNA test results, you may want to consider taking multiple tests to fully understand your ethnicity. Here’s how to fully appreciate the reach of the mtDNA and YDNA tests:

 Male paternal lineageFemale paternal lineageMale maternal lineageFemale maternal lineage
MENTest with a YDNA kitTest your father, any of his siblings, or your paternal grandmother with an mtDNA testTest any of your mother’s male siblings or your maternal grandfather with a YDNA testTest with an mtDNA kit
WOMENTest any of your male siblings, your father, any of his siblings, or your paternal grandfather with a YDNA testTest your father, any of his siblings, or your paternal grandmother with an mtDNA testTest any of your mother’s male siblings or your maternal grandfather with a YDNA testTest with an mtDNA kit

Join Filipino communities

One of the best ways to learn more about your Filipino heritage is by joining available communities that work together to enrich each other’s knowledge about their own heritage. Groups on testing sites like those found through FamilyTreeDNA offers a pool of resources from others who might also be conducting their own research into their Filipino ancestry.

Make the most of the raw data upload feature

DNA testing kits aren’t exactly cheap. So if you were hoping to spend less on your test, it would be wise to consider the raw data upload feature. Both AncestryDNA and 23andMe offer autosomal DNA tests, so there wouldn’t exactly be a need to take both tests considering the fact that they might provide almost identical results.

However, FamilyTreeDNA does offer the raw data upload feature, which means you can take your raw DNA data from 23andMe and then upload the information to the FamilyTreeDNA database to find out how they dissect your profile. Just for the sake of expanding your knowledge, you might also want to consider the MyHeritage DNA raw data upload to deepen your understanding of your ancestry as a whole.

FAQ’s About Filipino Ancestry DNA Testing

Why am I more Filipino than I expected? Here’s a common question that most U.S. Americans ask when first seeing their DNA test results. Again, it’s important to consider the fact that ‘Filipino’ ethnicity is a mixture of different races. For reference, it’s important to know that the Philippines was occupied by the U.S. for nearly half a century. During this time, close to a million Americans were born on Philippine soil, and may of which were a mixed Fil-Am race. This can reflect in your DNA test as a predominant Filipino ethnicity that’s actually simply a result of the American lineage that mixed with the original Filipino race.

Why did my results change? DNA testing companies bring you results by comparing your DNA profile with others on their database. The more their database grows, the more resources they have to fine-tune their results. If you’ve noticed a change in your ethnicity results, it’s likely because the service has gained better insight into the science of DNA testing. Rest assured, these new results are likely a more accurate representation of your true DNA profile.

Can I test for Igorot or Ifugao lineage? The Igorots and the Ifugaos are some of the purest of the Filipino race, with some of their groups having resisted occupation throughout the centuries. This is mainly because they lived in the mountains and other secluded areas where they were unlikely to be found by foreign invaders.

Presently, there is no test that delivers such specific results to localize your DNA lineage to these ancient Filipino tribes. But what you can do is conduct your own research by reaching out to DNA matches and finding out where your common ancestors might have come from. Localizing your heritage to the Baguio region can make it easier to determine your native Filipino roots, since this is where they typically dwell.

Over to You

Having been the stronghold for most superpowers during times of war, the Philippines has seen a colorful mixing of cultures and ethnicities that make it a truly distinct race. Today, the population has reached numbers of 100 million, with a strong prominence in many countries around the world.

If you’ve found Filipino ancestry in your blood, and your interested in learning more about your heritage, consider the 23andMe DNA test to give you the best possible chance at uncovering your ethnic roots.

Resources:

  1. Philippines Population 2019. Taken from http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/philippines-population/ on November 8, 2019
  2. History of the Philippines. Taken from https://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/History/Philippines-history.htm on November 8, 2019
  3. What is genetic ancestry testing? Taken from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/dtcgenetictesting/ancestrytesting on November 8, 2019