Don’t Fall in Love with a Passer by: A Tale of a Broken Wandering Heart

Lake in Munich

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It was our first date. I was three hours late. Unlike the others, I know, I just know this will be different. You’re fasting. It was the end of Ramadan.


I can’t forget that angry look in your face that might have scared that side of Malaysia. You looked so manly outside that Mexican restaurant. I bit the insides of my lips. You smiled.  You said I was forgiven. I still felt guilty.


You didn’t make me pay for my share of our meal. You looked ruthlessly manly in your over six feet frame. I looked like a bit of an overweight Asian dwarf in my not so long legs. I wondered how warm it will feel inside your arms.


You’re wickedly witty. I felt insufficient. I’m just a blondie.


I made you watch that sappy movie I know you loathed. I cried and you wiped my tears away. I was right. Your chest felt home. As warm as those Ikea duvets. As comfortable as wool socks. As heavenly as hot chocolate by the fireplace during one of those dark, cold winter nights.


You drove me home. We bid each other goodnight and said nothing after.


It was good but scary. It was ordinary but different. It was strange but not a biggie.


I heard nothing from you the day after. A week passed, nothing. One, two, three months passed and still nothing. I shrugged it off. I thought I felt magic.


I went to Thailand. Came back with a nice tan and somehow different view about life. I messaged you and almost had a heart attack when you replied. We chatted over dinner and movie and yes, coffee even if it’s close to midnight. Why we lost contact, we both wanted to strangle each other. Our meeting each other halfway didn’t work. A massive failure for a guessing game. We laughed it off and picked things up from where we left them off.


My tan faded away, we got closer. Maybe it’s your religion. You don’t drink nor party. Such a breath of fresh air for this life of the party. You made Malaysia felt more home.


“You make me feel happy. I want to make you happy.” was your Syrian way of telling me what I mean to you. I was waiting for the three magic words. Romantic fool you haven’t guessed. Nearly one year of dating you made me feel like an adult who got my shit together.  But those three words, I failed to hear. Patience meant nothing to me but I waited. I thought patience can’t be learned.


On the last few months of your PhD, you started talking about kids. Where to raise them because Syria can’t be it at the moment. I was happy. I went through my days with hearts in my eyes until panic gotten all over me. My life, hopes and dreams flashed in front of me. I’m not ready to bid freedom goodbye. I ran away. Hid. Cried. But hey!  I tried winning you back. “Please play away from me.” were your last five words of goodbye.




Part 1 is here.


Please share if you liked.



*Don’t Fall in Love with a Passer by: A Tale of a Broken Wandering Heart is about my attempt to be with someone while on search of  purpose and happiness while on a journey to finding myself.*


Don't fall in love



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10 Things That Changed Since I Lived Abroad.

Penang Hill

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Dani, how did your life change since you lived abroad?


A Facebook private message read. 


Me: I became a minimalist, more tolerant, more patient, more flexible, more open minded, faster to learn a language, frugal, good citizen, lesser judgmental, culture sensitive, appreciate silence more, complain lesser and lesser, more creative and most of all, wide reader and a budding writer. 🙂 The list goes on and on and it’s easier to say that the old me that I know died. Even the name Dani that I coined just to sound cooler changed. I’m now Danica.


This was the shortest response that I could give her because I got scared that I have turned to a madwoman too after moving abroad twice. I could have given her a revised and expounded reply but I don’t know if she will be interested to read a memoir.


Shortly after I sent her that brief answer, there were nearly a thousand words that started bouncing up and down in my head. The blabber in me was triggered. I know I will be able to come up with more than a thousand words that will pass as a blog post entry. I can not not elaborate on this. I can not not justify it. Freak alert!


  1. I have turned to a frugal minimalist

In 2014 I moved to Malaysia and the only thing that I got sad about was not being able to fit my exaggerated shoe, dress, bag, book, magazine and other trinket collection inside my 24 kilo allowed luggage. I remember my carry on almost bursting. I was tempted to wear 5 dresses just to save space and be able to bring more. I wasn’t sad because I will not see my family so often anymore. I was sadder that I will leave the wardrobe that I built and looked forward to building a new and bigger one which started not even a month after I settled in. I was shopping like I have shootings and tapings to attend to. I forgot that I am not a celebrity who was paid to look good and must avoid being seen wearing an outfit twice in such a short span of time. Moving again made me live like a nomad everyday. I no longer need buy things I will not use. I am no longer being affected by the demands the biggest brands are creating. I have what I need to live the simple life that I want. I don’t need more stuff that give me headache and anxiety. Having less is the answer to having a peaceful life.



2. I became more patient.

I learned how to live slowly. I understand the “power of now” better and it makes sense. There is no need to rush everything like my meal. Being fully present in every single task that I do made me see more beauty and learn more profound lessons. From paperwork to doing my weekly grocery to cleaning my space to learning basic Coding for my website. Living abroad has made me complain lesser and lesser. I used to be the brat who bitched about every single thing in my life and cried for help at the very first sign of discomfort. I learned to be patient with myself and realize that I am a big work under progress. I never saw how blessed I was until I traded my little comfort zone to the real big world where people try to make ends meet and/or save their lives by seeking refuge in another country. Patience came with compassion.


3. I realized that school is not everything.

Everything that I have learned from all the schools I have been to didn’t teach me what I needed to know to survive in this life. Okay, I learned how to read and write but they are not everything. I wish they also taught me to love myself and gave a friendly reminder that I am not just born to pay bills and die. I wish they taught Happiness 101 or Introduction to Self-Care.


4. I read like a maniac.

Whatever I am not confident to ask, I read. Whatever I can’t afford to learn, I read and then teach myself. Now I have more books than clothes and I find them more useful. I now see the benefits of freeing time to read. It has opened my mind more than I have expected it to. I never thought that there are still unexplored part of my brain. Every book that I have read has become a part of me. Little by little, I am able to name emotions I couldn’t name before and amazed that other people have experienced it too. Reading alone gave me an assurance that I am not alone and that what I am going through is not unusual. Someone somewhere felt it too and put it to words. I just needed to pick up the right books.


5. I became flexible

I still can’t pass to be a record- breaking gymnast but I’m surprised to know how fast I can adapt to a new environment. I thought I am a mermaid but I was wrong. I am a chameleon who can blend anywhere easily. Living abroad has deleted all my preset expectations of how I want my life to look like and really take each day as it comes. I no longer beat myself for not preparing as early as now for my future because I know that I am working very hard each day for the one that I will love living more. A second from now is the future. Every second that I spend hating the situation where I am (e.g. job I hate) is every second of my present and future already wasted. I thought travel has trained to me to be flexible but it didn’t. It wasn’t enough. Living abroad is like a form of yoga. There are so many poses I needed to practice first before I can truly be flexible.


living abroad


6. I became more creative

Being in a new place, with different seasons, different culture, different smell and people with different perspectives inspired me to start embracing my inner artist of life. I’m no artist whose expertise in some sort of art will make tons of cash but I am an artist of life. It took me so long and so many failed attempts to find out who I really am and what I want to be but now I know why I took Communication Arts. Communication is my art. I might have only lasted one painting class session but that doesn’t mean that it is the only form of art I can be good be at. Life is an art and I am the artist in mine.


7. My love for languages

I used to imitate not just Indian accent but also all the others different than mine that I can hear. My friends thought it was hilarious and their wild roar of laughter stroked my ego and boosted my confidence. I thought I was a clown. But Germans actually have a term for that. Sprachgefuehl or the feel of language which actually means ones ability to learn a language fast. (See my favorite German words here.) Sure my German is still like of a toddler’s but I am trying to learn as much as I can every single chance I get. I am not a native English speaker neither but I am making a conscious effort to improve and use it like how the natives would. I fell in love with the thought of learning new languages.


8. I became an Introvert

It’s the biggest shocker for me. I used to drag my friends to the loo because I loved having them around. Because I mean, I can not not speak my head out alone, can I? I need to always talk, to always look good, to stand out, have more and be obnoxiously funny to be liked, right? But when I moved out of my country, I realized what an introvert I really am. I never thought that I would enjoy my time alone so much that I looked forward to coming home as fast as I can to be able to curl up and read. The only fear left  is not being able to read enough books.

9. I became less judgmental.

As I started hanging out with people outside my own race, all my preconceived notions and stereotypes started melting away. Not all Muslims are bad. Not all Chinese are racists. Not all Americans are stupid. Not all South East Asians are ignorant. Not all Filipinos are gold diggers. The list can go on but I don’t have them anymore. In fact, people I keep on meeting people on the road who have shown me kindness, understanding and compassion that I never experienced in the safe premises of our village or even my own country. At the end of the day, I came to realize that we are just all the same. We are all fighting for survival but being disrespectful and judgmental are things we never really needed.

Living abroad


10. I became an ambassadress of Self-love.


I am no longer apologetic for being who I truly am and what I will still become. I no longer look at my thighs and inspect them for possible cellulite. I would see physically challenged people really trying to do their stuff with so much gusto and there I was silently cursing my thighs for not shrinking no matter which diet I try. I heard their voices in my head saying “I will do whatever it takes to have thighs on which I can walk like a normal person.” I forgot to thank my body for allowing me to do all the things I want to. I never celebrated the power of my mind in trying to understand things it does. I forgot to thank my heart for still working no matter how many times it got broken. Of all the love I was giving away, I never gave myself some. My anxiety, insecurity, depression and the need to have more and be liked faded away. Living abroad and away from all the things familiar has made me a child trying to learn how to crawl, walk and speak again. Living abroad made me fall in love with myself and all the flaws it came with. Not only that. I am getting better in directly expressing what I want. I grew up in a culture that sugarcoats everything because we are trained not to upset other people. I have learned to say “no” more often. I have become selective of who I allow in my life too. I have learned to prioritize myself and do what makes my heart swell with joy.



Have you lived abroad? How did your life change?




Please share if you like. =)

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Learning German: A love-hate relationship.

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You’re already almost a year in Germany and all you can say is “Ach so??”


Thank you soooo much! Please rub it in! 


Dear Diary,


I am going crazy. The first two weeks of learning this language is the most horrible phase of my life. My headache never stops. I feel hungry all the time. At the end of the day I want to eat something really crunchy and/or punch someone in the throat. I’m going ballistic. I joined the classes when some of them are in the middle of the book already and I can’t be proud that all I know was just “good morning, thank you and bye” at all! I needed to do a lot of catching up.

Diary, I don’t really see why I need to learn the language to begin with. I am an aspiring English teacher and where will I use German after here? I don’t plan to stay for long anyway. I just need to learn Teaching and that’s it. I will be gone. Okay? Thanks! Bye! And that is very very soon!

Dear Diary,


I don’t know where the f*ck these Germans got their words from! And I don’t know why they have different Articles for “The” and genders! They don’t effin make sense AT ALL! “der, die and das??” Seriously? Who has the time? Life is too short to focus on learning German. Besides, how can they expect me to pronounce f*cking things right when Tagalog alphabet only has 20 letters? (Wikipedia says Modern Tagalog Alphabet has now 28 letters)

We don’t have C, F, Z, Q, V and X. English is already challenging at 26 letters. F, V and Z already gave my tongue a good workout then German Language has umlaute??* How am I supposed to pronounce “schwarz” and how will I remember “Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz” ?? (law for the delegation of monitoring beef labelling)


That is not even the longest German word. I am losing it, Diary. I’m losing it!


*umlaute* source wikipedia
Ä (ä) // Long ä pronounced similar to ‘ae’ in ‘aero’
Ö (ö) // No English equivalent sound. somewhat similar to vowel in ‘jerk’, ‘turn’, or ‘third’, but it is critical to note that there is no “r” sound that is pronounced in conjunction with the ö.
Ü (ü) // No English equivalent sound

The ss-Ligature, ß
ß (es-zet or scharfes es) // Pronounced like ‘s’ in ‘set’ or ‘c’ in ‘nice’

*Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft. Currently this is the longest German word meaning “Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.”


Dear Diary,


Today, I almost fought with my classmates who will be my future students. They are bullying me for not trying (to learn at least). Duh?! I’m just an Intern. I am not here to learn the language. I am here to learn teaching and please! I’ve gone so far with my English. It’s enough! If there should be learning German, should be them not me. Besides, almost every German speaks English and they always say they love practicing it so please, LEAVE ME ALONE!!!






4-5 months later…


Excuse me. Why is the shop closed?” An old lady asked me in German.

“Because of the flood.” Unglaublich! (Unbelieveable!) I replied in German and I needed to stop a bit though the lady has walked away. I had a small talk in this language I started having a love-hate relationship. I mean, my German can’t still save my life and once Germans felt that I am abusing their language, they immediately switch back to English. No one should put the language into shame. Nationalism. They teach that in school too. They didn’t realize that doing this makes me so happy more than Bratwurst.


Dear Diary,


I can’t believe I will at least be able to somehow pick up the language I was so skeptical about learning. I might not need it professional wise but to be able to make a small talk with the locals and especially to be able to buy something using their language feels so good. I suck at languages and I am well aware of that already. I stayed in Malaysia for nearly two years and I can’t even say a complete sentence in Malay, Tamil or Mandarin. I have convinced myself that I don’t need anything aside from English. How full of myself have I become? Looking back Diary it was just an excuse I kept on saying and telling myself because I was too lazy and too close-minded for learning.


No matter how much I deny it, I was just in Malaysia to earn a living and not what I was claiming that I was there for culture when I didn’t even made an effort to integrate. Though I fell in love with it, Bahasa was like a flaw I didn’t fully embrace. I want to regret it and if I will live there again, I will surely try to learn it. Languages have this beauty that I was only able to see at 30.


Currently “Mein Deutsch ist noch peinlich.” (my German is still embarrassing) as how I would normally start a conversation with Germans to warn them I am about to murder their beloved language but they reply with their eyes almost popping out of their sockets and the more that they will encourage you to speak. “At least you’re trying and that will get better in time” is how they console me. Germans aren’t so German after all and I can’t believe I will admit to watching German TV and movies now and read local papers, books and magazines. The headache started to subside. Even my host family stopped using English with me and I know in few more months, everything will be better like the weather.



After two years, my German is still not as good as I want to be but I can now have simple conversations. (Click here for the list of my favorite German travel words)  I wasn’t able to use what I have learned in the German course like all the things I did in school. Real life is just the best teacher. Learning a new language at 30 might not be easy but I would never have it the other way. Otherwise, I will never be able to appreciate its beauty like how I do now in my adult years.


It would have been easier if Filipinos aren’t so harsh about laughing at mistakes as if we are so prone from it and I wish we don’t make fun of everything. My self-esteem has been so affected and I have zero confidence. A German friend said that I shouldn’t be worried because Germans, knowing how difficult their language is, will not laugh at me trying to speak and learn their language and that whatever fear I have for speaking it is also the fear they have for speaking a second language. The perfectionist in me may never be able to master it but at least, I still learned. I still won. 


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How to Switch to Kindle Without Being so Overly Dramatic About it.

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Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella was the first e-book I’ve read.


It was 2010 and I worked for few weeks on a night shift so I resorted to it just to save my sanity. I enjoyed it because my favorite author wrote it but I knew then that e-book is not really for me. I don’t know how to try Kindle without being so overly dramatic about it.


I love holding the book in my hands and the smell of its pages. I truly feel whatever it wants me too feel so I never read e-book again. I collected books like how I collected cute dresses, shoes and other trinkets I lay my hands on. I was once a victim of wanting to have more too.


Moving overseas twice left me brokenhearted for the shallow reason that I couldn’t bring all my books but I didn’t want to pay extra for additional luggage.


Knowing myself, I will never stop buying books. I left my books along with my mountainous magazine collection. It was a pain but I need to move on with my life. I needed to practice the minimalist approach and live like a nomad everyday. The lesser things I own, the more space I have for those that really matter. The lesser the clutter, the better I can think and the freer I can move.


I ate my words when my German host mother told me that the house will be repaired and we needed to bring all our stuff in the basement to make way for all the work. Floor boards need to changed and the walls need to be painted.


I was happy to see that I don’t have tons of clothes and shoes. But my books? I couldn’t believe how much I have accumulated for such a short time. I couldn’t figure out how to bring them all down without help.


Reality slapped me hard. I have seven bags of books and I still couldn’t promise not to buy again.


Reading is the best thing I do for myself. (As I type this, I just bought The Universe Has Your Back . ) I am still convinced that investing in myself is very essential in the sabbatical that I am taking. This is for the recovery of my soul.


I think I might consider buying an e-reader though just by declaring that, already made my heart weep. My boyfriend saved the day by offering his Kindle just so I can try it. He doesn’t have the reading bug that I do and only needs it for long haul flights. I just wanted to give it a try. After all, it is not so expensive. If I will buy one and realized that it isn’t really for me, then I can give it away as gift or resell it.


After showing me how it works, I immediately told him what I wanted to read and just after few minutes, the book has been downloaded to the Kindle and off I started reading. I didn’t have to go to the bookstore nor had to wait for the delivery.


The first few minutes were awkward. I was in bed and being right-handed made my left hand feel useless. It also went numb after more than fifteen minutes of expecting to do something but didn’t. My entire system was aware that I was reading and that I must be doing it with two hands but it took a little longer time of getting used to doing it with just one.


Twenty minutes into reading, I had a real separation anxiety. I miss the pages of the book and its smell. Though it helped that the book I chose was a pageturner, I still felt that something was not right. The first night with Kindle wasn’t enough to decide whether I like it or not. I need to finish the book to really know how I feel about it.





1.My bag is so much lighter.


I can’t not read just one book If a book is incredibly boring despite how much other readers found it good, I drop it and move to the next and find some other moment to read it again. So I am so used to having two to three books in my bag. It was easy as thousands of books can be stored in Kindle.


2. It is so convenient.


The books can be bought from Amazon in just some clicks after reading the reviews. No Amazon account? Sign up here.


3. E-books are a little cheaper than the physical books and be shared with friends and family. There are also a lot of books that can be read for free.


4. Kindle frees a hand for me. 


I’m really dependent to public transportation so during rush hour and it’s full, I can still read without me having to worry of falling. Kindle allows me to hold on to the handrails while reading. Turning the page is easy too by just pressing the strategically placed buttons on both sides.


5. Travel time is more bearable.




1. I am now always paranoid that it will break inside my bag though it has a protective case, I now always need to be more careful not to carelessly dump my bag on the floor like when I know that it was just books I have inside it.


2. I also now can’t just flip the pages and go back easily to where I wanted to.

Sure the newer Kindle versions make “fast-forwarding” and “rewinding” a breeze but I still miss that I can just do that quicker in my books.


3. I couldn’t bring it in the bathtub.


4. Flight attendants will always ask for it to be switched off when taking off and landing. A bit hard to explain that it is an e-reader that doesn’t use or require current being an electronic device.


5. Since it is battery operated, it can die on you so it requires charging too.


6. If there’s no WIFI, then you can’t buy new books when you run out of books to read.


Despite having withdrawal syndrome and the feeling that I am officially betraying my books, I still continued to read.


When I finished Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents,  it was so easy to say that it isn’t for me but it is not fair to conclude only after one book. I needed to try it a bit longer to be able to really say that I liked it or not. (He is now offering it to me for free while browsing through the latest models. hmmmm.) I then bought Elizabeth Gilbert’s Commited and Maya Angelou’s I know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Then Francisco Salgueiro’s I’m Naked What now? Is this how thrilled I am trying Kindle? I bought Stephan Orth’s  Couchsurfing in Iran two days ago and today, Gabrielle Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back as the sixth book for this month and I just know that a book review is following this post. You can read my previous book review here.


I am hitting my target of reading a book a week and actually exceeding it with Kindle’s help but I honestly couldn’t say goodbye to books. I am not in love with Kindle but at least I can say, I have the best of both worlds.


Will you ever ditch your books for Kindle? I’d love to know how feel about it. =)






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#TravelForPencil: Traveling One Step Away From Ignorance



There’s one question I failed to ask myself when I started testing the waves outside our Philippine shores. Why am I doing it? To find myself? Sure! But I have not really thought of traveling with a cause. After one place after the other, there is something else that I still wanted but couldn’t put a name on until I bumped into the Facebook post of my University friend’s little sister.


I can only remember how young she was when I would do sleepover in their house. Their mother’s cooking is still one of the bests my battered taste buds have ever tasted. Though now a grown up lady, my memory of her was still of a little girl. It is just like every parent even when their kids grow up. It will always be little fragile kids in their eyes. At some point, they just stopped counting the age no matter how many birthdays come. That’s how she is to me: a little girl who is doing something very impressive that makes me feel so ashamed of myself given my old age. Her parents must be so proud of her. Prouder than I am.




As I stare at the photos, I couldn’t help but stalk her profile where I would see even more of what will further touch my heart. She is doing it right. She is doing it like how I myself want to do it. Being outside our own country and coming across with all the stereotypes other nationalities throw at Filipinos for being poor, ignorant and uneducated, I would want to start doing something that will somehow put an end to it and prove them otherwise. I am such an ambassadress for the limitless powers that come from knowledge and some sort of nerdy things. Travel for Pencil. What an amazing idea! I got so inspired and I just couldn’t help myself but bug her with tons of questions.



Tell us something about you. (What you do. Your age.)


My name is Nikhail Grace Gonzales. I am 27 years old and still single. I work for one of the biggest telecommunications company in the Philippines for five years now. I love traveling and adventures. I balance my life through service and traveling. Aside from working 5 times a week, I see to it that I balance my time for my family, service and travel.




#Travelforpencil. I know that the idea is already there but how did your project start? What inspired you to do it? Are you doing it alone? Are you getting suggestions?


I had this trilogy climb at Nasugbu, Batangas with my friend last January 2017. We were able to climb three mountains for a day- Mt. Batulao/Mt. Talamitam/Mt. Apayang. It was indeed one of my greatest achievements when it comes to hiking. I wasn’t expecting to finish three mountains just for a day. It was so tiring but with God’s grace, we were able to conquer it. After that climb, I felt that something was missing, I began to ask myself, “Bakit parang my kulang?:” (why does is feel that something is missing?). After reaching the peak, posting the pictures on social media and sharing the experience, I felt that there was a piece missing, “Ano na? Ano ngayon kung nakaakyat ka ng bundok? Nakatulong ka na ba?” (what now? So what if you’re able to climb a mountain? Were you abel to help?) These questions lingered my mind, I was inspired by many kids along the way, along the trail, as they chose to help their parents earn a living on a weekend instead if just playing. Some kids help their parents sell and some earn by offering their services as a tour guide. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, (I told myself) How can I be of help to these kids in my own simple way?? I was led to move and do my part. And so I thought of this pencil to give out to kids wherever they are whenever I travel with my friends since pencils are lightweight and easy to carry.




On my next climb at Mt. Gulugod-Baboy in Mabini last March 19, 2017, I brought with me 15 pieces of pencils just to start. The day when Travel for Pencil was born. Honestly, I do not know what I was doing. I even doubted myself. Tama ba tong ginagawa ko? (Is what I\m doing right) Along the way, I cannot forget the look and the smile the kids have given me. I knew that was it! That’s the answer! And so I shared my experience in social media. People began asking why I give pencils and admittedly, I do not know what to say (at first). Hindi pa rin clear. (It is not clear) Little did I know, they were also moved by simple act. And from then on, pencil donations just came on pouring from my relatives and friends and even from people I do not know.




How do you find the kids or the places where you;ll do your next project? Do you have contacts there? How often do you do it? How may times have you done it?


I hand over pencils to random kids who I met along the way anywhere. No specific community. I target to have a trip at least once a month. We just think of any place to go. Sometimes, I got invites from groups to join their trip and bring pencils with me. As of to date, we were able to give 473 pieces of pencils to 11 locations in the Philippines.




Do you get support (financially and morally) from your friend and family? Did you get any negative comment or discouragement from anyone? (like me for example when my family told me to stop helping the refugees) if yes, how do you deal with it? What are your challenges if have any?


I didn’t expect to receive so much love from the people around me through this advocacy. People support me through pencil donations. Some even sent money for me to buy pencils on their behalf. I am so touched with every gesture showing their love and care for the kids. I also get more inspired when people send me private messages telling me about how they were moved and called to act accordingly. Amazing! I really do not know how will be able to sustain this advocacy, but with God’s grace, He continuously send me people who will help me out. From donations, connections and suppliers.


Talagang matinding kalaban ang sarili. (Oneself is really the toughest enemy.) There were times I doubt and lose the sense of pursuing this. But every time I feel this, God sends people for me to realize that there’s sense and that many people are being blessed by TFP. I really thank God for guiding me on this journey. For being my strength and my guide.





Do you have any unforgettable experience whilst doing your project? Did you cry or got so emotionally overwhelmed?


Ate*, here po yung some stories sa blog ko. (|Here are some stories in my blog.) Http:// *In the Philippines, we call older sister Ate.*




This Village Girl: How did your life change since starting the project? Where do you draw inspiration?


I won’t forget the day I made my decision to get out of my way to serve others in ways I can. I began to think of others more. I appreciate every little help that is coming because I know it is from the heart that wants to reach out and love and that it comes from God.




I get so inspired how a piece of pencil brings a smile not only to child’s face but also to their parents who have witnessed the simple act. I didn’t expect how a piece can delight one’s life. Na parang sa isip ko lapis lang naman yun eh pero sa kanila parang napakalaking bagay na. (It’s like in my mind, it was just a pencil but for them it’s such a big deal.) Yun pala kasi yung simpleng lapis na yun pahirapan pa bumili. (Turns out that it is so hard to buy a penicl.) Dahil nga naman sa hirap ng buhay nila sa probinsya, sa bundo, sa bukid at liblib n alugar, mas uunahin ang pambili ng pagkain kaysa lapis. (Because instead of buying pencil first, they will of course prioritize buying food because life in the village, in the boondocks and in remote places is hard.)

I have witnessed poverty but I see hope. Yes, I have cried a lot of times most especially when I felt so helpless. TFP has thought me to be more loving and giving because I am so blessed. At wala akong dapat irekalmo sa buhay. (There is nothing in my life that I must complain about.) Dahil yung iba (Because the others) despite their situation, they still manage to smile, live simply and go on with their lives. Sobrang nakakainspire. (It is so inspiring.) Kung meron mas natutulungan dito sa advocacy na ito, ako yun. (If there’s someone that this advocacy is helping, it’s me. )


Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I believe in God’s promise that all we are going through is all part of His plans for our lives. No matter how difficult our situation is, no matter how poor or rich one is, nothing can stop God’s great plans for our lives. God will pout us to where He wants to be, where we should be.




Do you have dreams for TFP? Like thinking of opening it for sponsorship and help more? Do you promote it? Please share us your dreams for it. Who knows there are like-minded people who’d be interested to help. =)


Some people were asking if bakit lapis lang? (why just a pencil?)I told them that little by little. I believe in the power of small. I am not closing doors for TFP. I am very much open for opportunities and collaborations. This isn’t for me. This is for the kids who I believe to be the hope of every family in our county. Ang edukasyon and tanging kayamanan na hinding hindi mananakaw. (Education is the only wealth that nobody can steal.) Gaya ng pangarap ng bawat magulang na makapagtapos ang kanilang mga anak para matamasa ang maganda at masaganag buhay. (Like every parent’s dream of their kids finishing school and have a better life. )I believe in their dreams also that one day they will be the one serve our children and for the generations to come.



And so just recently, I have ordered the string bags and add some notebook, crayons, eraser, sharpener, and pencil case. I look forward to giving a complete set of school supplies to every child. I’ve got a lot of plans to reach out to more people and help more kids. Narealize ko, maraming tao pala ang gusto tumulong pero hindi nila alam paano. (I realized that there are a lot of people who want to help but they just don;t know how.) I praise and thank God that through TFP, people were able to touch other people’s lives ways. Walang imposible! (Nothing is impossible!)

Today, I have been receiving messages from different people on how they will be of help. And I look forward to have more for TFP so that we could help more people too. One or two years from now, I can see TFP collaborating with schools, groups, communities and other programs and organizations.


Hesitant pa ako gumawa ng Facebook page. Hahaha. (I was so hesitant to create a Facebook page) Nahiya kasi ako. (I was ashamed. ) But I don’t know, pinush ako ni Lord na gumawa. (I don’t know, the Lord pushed me to make one.) And so now, mas madali na nga naman idirect yung mga tao na nagtatanong about sa TFP because I just have to direct them to the page mismo. (So now, it is easier to direct people who are interested about TFP because I just have to direct them to the actual page.)


I am very open naman kahit kanino who extends their help for TFP. I receive private messages from TFP’s page and my own account too. Nakakatuwa how people extends their help. (It feels so good how people extends their help.) Para saken walang maliit na tulong basta bukal sa pusong nagbibigay. (For me there is no little or big help as long as it comes from the heart.)





*One pencil costs 7 Philippine Peso (0.13 USD/ 0.11 Euros) and it’s a step away from ignorance.


If you’re interested to help us educate more young people who will be taking over the world someday, you can send Nikhail a message by visiting Travel for Pencil Facebook Page. 

You can also visit her blog for more inspiring Travel for Pencil stories. 


Thank you so much!


Over to you!


Have you asked the purpose of your existence too?


If you’re traveling, why are you traveling?


I’d love to hear and learn from you. Let’s exchange stories. =)

Self-Care Giveaway Winner Announced!

As promised, the winner of  Self-Care Giveaway will be announced today, 18 August 2018.


It was not an easy task to choose who will take this self-care loot home.






I’d like to thank everyone for your time and effort.

I am overwhelmed by your love and support. I will be forever grateful.


Since it broke my heart to just choose one winner…


I decided to make it two.


Congratulations to:



Katrina Cebreiros




Lyka Balanquit.



Please keep an eye on your E-mail. You will be personally contacted via E-mail.


Again, thank you so much and I hope to see your entries in the next giveaway.

The Love We Give: Self-Care Give Away.


What do we do with the love we receive?


For me it’s very easy. I pass them on.


My blog is new and to celebrate my first month of sleepless nights, frustrations, disappointments, crazy ups and downs, and mostly, all the love I am receiving, I am giving away some of the little things that make me happy and stress free. The journey has not been easy (and it is not yet easy) but I am celebrating every little successes. And I am now old enough to say that this is a practice of self- care. I am doing the best in my ability. I am enough.


I’m a bubble bath addict (If it is not bad for the skin and hair, I will definitely do it every single day and not just once a week.) and I always find it relaxing when I apply facial and hair mask,  light some candles up and soak myself in the tub. I will finish it with a Vegan Lavender soap and a nice smelling body lotion  and later on, a rich hand creme.

I know it was and still will be a rough ride that’s why I bought a little more than I should of my “pamper me” staples and I am giving some of them to you, my lovely reader. It is open worldwide. This is not a sponsored post and please watch out for more.




These will be yours when you:

  1. Subscribe to my blog, check your E-mail and confirm subscription.
  2. Follow my Instagram, Pinterest account or like my Facebook Page.
  3. Tag five of your friends.

For every share, you will get additional entry. Deadline for entries is on Friday, 17 August 2018. The winner will be announced on the blog on Saturday, 18 August 2018.



Over To You! 


I’d love to know what you do to practice self care.





10 German Travel Words That I Wish We Have in English.


Okay. I am not a native English speaker but breathing English since birth makes me feel like one. Sure, moving to Germany and learning this awful language according to Mark Twain, I can now agree that whoever didn’t study it doesn’t have any idea how difficult it is to acquire it. As I eavesdropped my way to somehow understand it, I found myself developing a love-hate relationship with it. Most of the words actually don’t make sense when translated to English but diving deeper into it gave me more reasons to be fond of it especially these travel words that don’t have English counterpart.

With these words, I cornered my German boyfriend one Sunday morning after breakfast. I don’t know if he is just like a typical guy who doesn’t want to discuss nerdy, stupid things like this or it was too early to think in second language. Sure, I was able to force some answers from him but being a bonafide German speaker who uses it as verb and adjective, I felt that it will make more sense to ask my Filipino cousin who grew up in Germany who can easily switch to Tagalog, English and German seamlessly.


Wanderlust [vandɐˈlʊst]

Fact: did you know that our favorite travel word came from German words, wander which means to hike and lust which means desire. So wanderlust is actually the desire to be with nature through hiking that is now a very popular term to describe endless desire to travel.


German Travel Words




Reisefieber [raɪzəˈfi:bɐ]

I guess this should really be the English equivalent of Wanderlust. Reise means travel and Fieber is fever the sickness. My sources said Reisefieber is stronger. This isn’t just that kind of sickness you feel after your last trip and the pain of excitement for the next but emphasizes a stronger desire for not wanting to stop traveling.


German Travel Words




Fernweh [fɛrnve]

Fern means faraway and weh means sore or painful. This is the antonym of “homesickness” but this is that aching feeling of wanting to be somewhere far from home. “Farsickness” could be the more fitting word if that ever exist.


German Travel Words


Sehnsucht [zeːnzʊxt]

Sehn is to see and sucht is addiction or obsession and when put together, doesn’t just mean craving but also a longing, an unanswered question or the desire to have other experiences or deeper meaning.


German Travel Words



Kopfkino [kɔpfˈki:no]

Kopf means head and Kino is cinema or movies. I would say that this doesn’t have a lot to do with traveling but to have “movies” in your “head” simply suggests daydreaming. Your thoughts are flying somewhere far from reality.


German Travel Words



Zeitgeist [zʌɪtɡʌɪst]

From Zeit ‘time’ and Geist ‘spirit’. German Philosophy rooted from the 18th to 19th century that translates to “spirit of the age” or “spirit of the times”. This is that feeling of being in a different era and traveling through times.


German Travel Words



Torschlusspanik [tɔɹ.ʃlʊsˌpæn.ɪk]

Tor is gate, schluss is closed and panik is panic. Etymology says to close the city gates at night for safety and whoever comes late has no choice but to stay outside to be exposed to dangers. When translated to English, this means that fear of not having enough time to achieve your goals.

I will be BS-ing you if I will say that chasing my out-of-this-world dreams doesn’t scare the hell out of me even a little. In my country, the Philippines, I am already considered an old maid but here I am, still pushing myself out of my little comfort zone to grow and get more out of this life. Sure, in some part of the world, the gates might have closed for me but I am determined to open the ones that I like. No panic here. =)


German Travel Words


Sprachgefühl [ʃpraːxɡəˌfʏːl]

Though not really a travel word, this means the talent to quickly learn a language. Sprach is to speak and Gefühl is feeling or simply the feeling of a language. While the Germans who witness how I murder their language say I have talent with languages, I still disagree. I push myself so hard to learn because I realized that just to travel is not what I am after but culture. And to understand culture, knowing the language is essential.


German Travel Words


Schnapsidee [ʃnapsʔiˌde]

Schnaps is a shot of Vodka or any alcoholic beverage. Idee is idea. Literally a crazy idea.

How many stupid things have I done just because I got drunk? Sure alcohol has made my English and German way better but Schnapsidee is not a travel word. Who knows, the next best Schnapsidee will bring me to where I really belong.


German Travel Words


Gemütlichkeit [ɡəˈmuːtlɪxkʌɪt]

I asked a German what will he do if he was told to prepare something gemütlich and he said he will prepare the sofa with nice pillows, light some candles and watch some movies. He said he will wear sweat pants and get ready to just relax and enjoy the romantic atmosphere. Gemütlich is synonymous to the Danish word Hygge which means coziness. Wikipedia said that Gemütlichkeit was derived from gemütlich, the adjective of Gemüt, which means “heart, mind, temper, feeling” expressed by (and cognate with) English “mood”. Though not a travel word, gemütlich is now one of my favorite beautiful German words.

German Travel Words


I’d love to learn from you. What are your favorite beautiful foreign travel words?


How Not To Write “About Me” in Your Website Page.

Yeah Sure! I have endlessly ranted about the scarily intimidating technical side of blogging and website designing and building. Not only that, I have confidently declared my love for talking about how passionate I am about writing only for it to slap me hard in the face when I accidentally clicked on my “About” page. It’s not only empty. It’s rubbish. Looks like I need to also declare my inability to write something about myself.

While I’ve been scribbling almost about other things I am passionate about, I couldn’t do the same about myself without really asking who really I am. I’m self centered right? Then it should be the easiest page to fill but it isn’t without sounding that I am so full of myself. I typed non-stop. Paused to read it and then angrily jabbed at the innocent poor backspace button. Blank space again. I wasted more than half an hour of my precious time when I can use that time in figuring out how to improve my blog’s traffic. I started typing again to describe me in second person. It was a bit easier this. I stopped and read it. Control A. Delete. Great! I have a new routine. I have successfully mastered the art of wasting my time.


This made me think. Is this how clueless I am about my own self? Is this how I loathe myself? Why do I need to do astral travel just to be able to see myself in such an acceptable way even for my own liking? How will I be able to give myself some justice? Will I come off as too boastful in my choice of words or for the length of this page? If I couldn’t write it, who should I ask to do it? Who knows me better than I do? Clearly, I have confidence issues no matter how much I say that I have gotten rid of it. Were all my efforts to know and love myself better not working? It turns out that like my

blog, I am still under construction.


What are your struggles in writing “About” page? Sure I need sound tips.

10 Things I’ve Learned After One Month of Blogging.

I first heard of blogging in 2012 and then started with a free platform. I can’t remember if it was my roommate of four years or my first ex-boyfriend who introduced me to this completely different world.

Three years later, I found myself buying a domain which due to my village girl-ness, I gave it up because I failed to find out how it works, how to sustain it and for my thousands of endless nonsense reasons. Finally, one month ago, I launched my website and though I still haven’t gotten my act together yet, I am not willing to raise the white flag I have hidden somewhere and still trying my bestest to write and create something just because I love it.

Blogging is another planet.

I thought blogging was easy. Maybe I got used to the fact that I was just using a free platform then that only required writing, posting and running. The only marketing I did was in Facebook if I feel like sharing it. My readers were just my friends, acquaintances and family. To have a successful blog wasn’t in my mind. All I know is that, keeping and maintaining a blog help balance my mental health. Writing is actually cheaper than therapy and I didn’t have to feel scared that people around me think I am a hopeless case. Plus, I have a creative outlet.

Bloggers are geniuses.

I have huge respect to bloggers. Imagine being the Researcher, the Writer, the Editor, the Social Media Manager, the Digital Marketer, the advertiser, the Brand Manager, the Graphic Artist, the Web Developer and Designer, the Photographer, the Model, the Video Editor, the Art Director, the IT guy, the Customer Service Representative, the PR manager, the Investor (if there are no sponsors like me) and the COO or CEO all at the same time. This is what it means to be a blogger and I am honestly close to declaring that I am not. All I knew was I wanted to write about the emotions I have felt, all the things I have learned, all the places I have been to, restaurants where I have eaten, cute little accessories, shoes and dresses I have. I was wrong.

I remember on the same day that I purchased my domain. I felt so happy. I felt like a bought my own little world and I have it my hands. My nightmare began when I looked at the blank page after installing WordPress. I felt like a paralyzed person. I couldn’t move my hands to start doing the dirty work of layout and design. Sure I have idea of how I want that world to look like but I don’t know how to do it. Sure I have articles but I will need to polish them to make sure that my grammar will not make me gag, the photos needed to be edited, Instagram to be updated and Pinterest to be figured out while trying to understand what SEO, widgets, niche and plug-ins are. I didn’t even know that Google Analytics exist and what significance it has in my new role as an aspiring blogger. Few hours after posting my first blog entry, I have to worry about responding to my only two readers who commented on the post and then answer their questions too?

It’s a hard world to penetrate.

The rent to have that little space in the internet is not so high so there are bloggers who really make a living out of their websites and the competition is unbelievably high. Their dedication, talents, skills and intelligence is just remarkable. Not that I want to compete. Much as I want my website to grow and be profitable, I am more eager to be well versed in this digital world which doesn’t seem to show any decline in the future. I want to update my so obsolete technology program and I saw blogging as a good start.

People are good.

I joined Facebook groups of bloggers and surprised to discover that bloggers are good people. Despite how intimidating their websites are or how big their social media following is, they respond without any fee involved. They are good motivators. They support each other and that they are like-minded people who aren’t stingy with information. They respond in such a way I won’t feel dumber than I already do in terms of blogging. I remember asking a schoolmate for tips and suggestions but I was thrown to seen zone as if saying “who has the time for a clueless village girl like you?” When I joined groups, a lady offered to be my Pinterest Virtual Assistant for free and won’t accept even goods from me. Only a review of her performance. I just couldn’t accept her offer for the fear that I will not learn how to do it myself. Knowing how bad my ADHD is, I am scared to be dependent and abuse the kindness I am being given.

I became more open to criticism.

I think the only reason why I gave up blogging before was because I kept on doubting myself. I never believed that I have the ability to. I was always afraid of being criticized for my poor English grammar or my content isn’t good enough. Now, I will even share my latest blog post and ask other bloggers how I can improve it. Not for the growth of the blog but for my growth as a person and as a budding writer.

I am learning how to write.

I never realized how much I loved writing until I moved to Germany and all my friends are in the Philippines and Malaysia. Time difference was so hard to beat that I found myself resorting to journaling. I soon tried posting them as short Facebook entries. Few friends called my attention by suggesting to write a book that talks about my experiences on the road. But to write a book feels so heavy so I started with a blog. Sure my writing is not as good as I want it to be but I am learning. The blogging world has lead me to other bloggers’ works and through their websites, I feel more inspired and motivated to take little steps everyday that will bring me to my dreams of one day becoming the “wordsmith” that I have always dreamed of.

Blogging trained me to be a better reader.

To be a good writer is to be a good reader first and I am sure that I have read that somewhere. The same amount I spend in writing is the same amount of time I allot for reading or even more. Reading has made me bump into words, emotions and ideas that I never got anywhere. Sure I travel but there are still soooo many things that I still want and need to know and I am aware that it’s only through reading that I will be able to achieve that. So far, reading has been a huge help in giving me enough words to express my thoughts, ideas and emotions. Blogging has made me free more time to sit, read and live slowly and reading has made me a completely different person.

Blogging made me define success differently.

All the while I thought that being successful means having a lot of money, stable high paying job, friends and a hot guy to date. So in the world of blogging, I thought that success means having tons of followers, readers and people who talk about the blog. I was wrong. Because for me, success in blogging simply means, being out there telling the world that it is okay to be different. It is okay to bask in glory of simple joy. It is okay to have just one reader even if that one person is your best friend. It is okay to not have a big number of followers. It is okay not to have niche. It is okay to do what you want to do with your website. It is okay to be weird like me that every time I publish a blog post I feel successful because I didn’t let my fear win over me and that is pure bliss.


I was thinking of hiring a Virtual Assistant and I will just have to think of writing but then I realized, “how will I learn?” What’s the point of having a website that I don’t have any idea how to run it?

I remember being able to finally create the Menus, Categories and Sub-categories then posted my first few articles. My website layout looked like a real mess (it’s still a mess) so I wanted to do something about it. When I went back to page landing, the entire Menu was gone. I panicked and no matter what I did and what I clicked, I couldn’t make it appear anymore. For 15 minutes, I cried in frustration. My laptop has hundreds of tabs open and I was in chaos (I still am). I opened YouTube and with tear stained cheeks and blurry sight, searched on ways how to make the Menu appear. Thank you You Tubers and bloggers. My Menu is back but I still don’t know how to link my website to AdSense.

Let go and have fun.

Life is short and we only have 24 hours. No matter how much I stress about wanting to accomplish and learn more, there will always be the gift of tomorrow. The most important thing I have learned in blogging is that it is okay that my page looks like a battlefield. It’s okay even if my blog isn’t everything to everyone. All that matters to me is that I write and I actively create something without the aching pain of pleasing everyone or wanting to be somebody else. Embracing blogging is welcoming a new beginning with tons of learning. Blogging gave me an assurance that I will never be bored again. It is a proof that it there is always something to learn and really, age is just a number. It is never too late to learn something.

About Us


Dani is a plus sized Filipina ADHD kid, recovering shopaholic, alcoholic and workaholic. She doesn’t take herself seriously. She has an insatiable wanderlust, out of this world food cravings and goof addiction. If she is not busy planning her next adventure, she will be spotted taking OOTDs and OOTNs. She took a break from the crazy corporate world to see the real one. This is not another travel blog. This is her journey to self discovery, embracing flaws and feeding her soul of what sets it on fire. She is out to prove that life begins at the end of the comfort zone.

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