Evolution: Thoughts on Outgrowing Friends and Why It’s Okay

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I used to seek for approval before I proceeded with anything. I had the need to be liked because who doesn’t want to be seen as cool? I always craved for validation from my parents, family, peers, colleagues, friends and men. It’s a culture thing. Trust me, it wasn’t just tiring. I got burnt out. 


During an uncontrollably hormonal day, I found myself posting my desperate cry for enlightenment on a Facebook Group called She Hit Refresh. She Hit Refresh is a tribe of women in their 30’s who quit their jobs, said goodbye to the lives they didn’t feel happy about and started anew somewhere far from their homes and everyone they know. Instinct told me that for sure, this is the right tribe to throw my questions to as they can for sure relate more. They have more experience in what I’m lamenting about but couldn’t find enough courage to ask anyone. I was scared to be misunderstood. Because the truth is, nothing has prepared me for running away with only my hopes and dreams of being able to find whatever it is that I was looking for along the way. I never had enough words to explain it.


Danica: I hit Refresh. Twice. Now I feel like I have outgrown my friends and I feel like I couldn’t relate to them anymore. Has anyone experienced this? I moved twice and now I became introvert. Maybe because I feel uncomfortable when new acquaintance keep on asking me what I do and I am a bit tired of repeating stories again and again.


Sandra: It is quite normal to outgrow your friends especially if you are hitting refresh and they are not. And even sometimes if we don’t hit refresh we outgrow the people around us. It is an evolution. However, the second part is on you to decide if you want to be a hermit or you want to make friends. It is normal when you meet new people to try to find commonalities which includes what you do, how you came to be in a place, etc. It is just part of meeting new people and connecting with them. People are going to ask questions.


Cepee Tabibian: Great advice Sandra! Danica, I’ve felt like that too. When I moved to Madrid it took about 2.5 years to find my tribe again. I found I really had to work at making friends and finding the people who “get me.” I realized the effort was my responsibility to create my community. I spent a lot of time with acquaintances who weren’t the right fit and had to repeat my story over and over to new people. But that is just all part of meeting new people when you’ve moved somewhere new. People are curious of who you are and your story that led you to where you are. Best of luck! It does feel repetitive but if you keep at it the right people will come along. Where are you located right now?


Judy Lancaster Hey Danica, yes I think it’s normal for anyone. I moved to a new country with a new language and it was very strange and new and a bit scary. I’m a quiet person also so a bit shy and not always feeling up to reaching out to people. I’ve met so many great people though along the way, and a few now that are more special than the rest that I’ve become good friends with. I’ve grown so much from doing this.
But you have to make the effort to get out and if you are not good at just showing up alone at an event or restaurant or bar to meet people then I suggest you seek out hobbies you like to do and join clubs or courses. For example I went to yoga classes and met a great bunch of women there… All single and wonderful. I joined a women’s dinner get together with another lady that invited me and met even more like minded women. I did volunteer work every week teaching children English and met other wonderful volunteers.
And of course they are all curious about as I am about them. Try a short watered down version of your story so it’s not bothersome to you to repeat. You can always fill them in later as you become friends.
But I urge you to join groups or activities that you love and you will find friends that have similar interests. Good luck!


KC: I didn’t realize up until now that it’s normal !!.Wow such a relief. I assumed that I was the problem. Thanks for posting this.


Liane: Same here. If you evolve, I guess it means your people of interest evolves, whether or not that means they need to be different people, new people, people you knew you were not so close to… I super feel ya with the questioning, sometimes it’s an effort I don’t feel like going through and those days I just avoid to be with new potential friends


Lara: Only recently I realized (with help of my life coach) that you don’t have to be friends forever. Friends for a time is a thing, and is actually the norm. People come and go in your life, fulfill some purpose, and USUALLY leave.


Audrey: Just give them the short easy answer to their questions then ask questions about them. Most people love to talk about themselves and would appreciate a good listener. Of course, if you are now an introvert, you may just want to be alone for a spell.

Patrice: I learned in therapy training as we get older things change a lot with friends. We need less friends but higher quality friends so you are likely finding you are at that stage where past friendships don’t meet current needs


Jana: Yes. I can relate, and too have evolved more introvert. I find it’s not the asking of what I do, but the response people have because they work a traditional 9-5, and can’t see how someone could make money doing anything other than. And the judgment that comes with it. The experience is like you have to defend your choices, even though you not asking for any assistance from these people. It’s exhausting.

I’m sure you know you this, just seek to be in the company of people who are living similar to you and mix it up a bit periodically.


Macey: I never stay in one place long enough to make friends. I travel for work 1-30 days at a time then I’m off to the next place. I’m only home 1-2 days a month.

If it weren’t for Facebook I’d never have anyone to talk to?

Wow! Thank you for sharing SHR ladies. This makes me feel normal and not alone in this journey. As it had been said by many above. People can come into our life for a season and letting go of old friends does not make us bad friends


Robine: It’s not easy. Of course you will leave some people behind but hopefully not all. At first I found I was spending time with some with whom all I had in common was the English language and it does take time to find like-minded friends. Interestingly, I found people who aren’t interested in ‘my story’ and we share a new life and move forward rather than looking backwards. Not knowing what people did in past lives is great because we can’t categorize or judge. People’s lives just emerge over time and the parts that do are the really interesting bits! Keep going. It’s worth it.


Sherri Schultz Hmm. It does get tiring to say the same thing over & over. I’m hitting a domestic refresh (sold home, moved to different state, living in building of micro-studios with 43 college students). After a week or two here I began a doc called “How Many Reasons” that answers the #1 question I got from everyone when I arrived, “Why are you doing this?” (I’m up to about 20 reasons now.) I also wrote up a one-page summary of the last 30 years of my life that I can send people who are interested, because there’s never enough time. … Also, if you have a website or a blog or a Facebook business page, and a business card with the URL, you can use the About to tell more of your story and point people to it.


Lauren: Friendships take effort regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, hitting refresh or not. It’s never easy regardless. Nor should it be considered bothersome to have to repeat your story. Part of friendship regardless of the circumstances behind it is compromise. And work. Yes, it might be annoying, sure you might be afraid. But human beings, especially women are intrinsically social. We ask questions because we genuinely want to know. Yes, it might be awkward to go to a bar by myself in order to meet a new group of intriguing people. Yes, I may have to do that quintessential American thing called schmoozing and it may be awkward as hell for a few minutes. Or the alternative sitting alone in my flat, with a new city to explore, not pushing myself to get out there and take that chance. The hardest part of this equation my friends is hitting refresh. The rest of it is easy comparatively speaking. I have met some of my closest friends in that “bar”, laughing at myself and my awkwardness. In Lisbon once, no concept of Portuguese, jet lagged, trying to order a tea because of remnants of food poisoning from Asia. Could it have been more awkward trying to order peppermint tea? In my mind no. But, through the random kindness of strangers, meeting people by chance who were able to get me into a doctor that day, essentially saving my life? I digress…however, keep doing the things you love and that come easy to you. For me because I love to read, I always find the English bookstore and the movie theater that plays either dubbed American movies, or subtitles. You’d be surprised at how many times I’ve watched James Bond movies in Turkish. My point is it doesn’t have to be bothersome or stressful making friends. But, it is a necessary evil in the sense that you do have to put yourself out there at some point. Just do it on your terms.


Pam: I am increasingly less outgoing as I age. I miss the friendships that have become less forefront because of the changes in my life. I miss those friends. That connection.
I never had more than a couple of friends at any given time. And I know I’ll never have new friends that fill the void of the old.

But … I expect to have new friends who mesh with my new interests and involvements.


One thought about telling the same story over and over: Is it necessary? There’s nothing that says everyone needs the whole backstory from Page One. Give yourself permission to not tell all right away.


Beatrice: Yes! All my friends in London want to talk about is building a loft extension or moving from their 3 bedroom suburban home into a 4 bedroom home. I still love them and feel horrible saying this, but I totally relate



I got the answers that I was looking for and felt bad about not being able to revert with even just a little gratitude for the wisdom they gave me. I am slowly learning to open myself up and be more social again. Perhaps I haven’t found my tribe yet but it’s not that important anymore.


A man is rich not by what he owns but what he can do without.” — Immanuel Kant


What matters is that I have taken the first painful step in acknowledging that I have issues to face on my own and not everyone will understand especially the ones who saw how cheerful, playful, easy-going and obnoxious I was. There was a big black, hallow void I needed to fill and only me was able to resolve it. I might have lost friends but I’ve come into terms with myself and it’s actually better. Sure I still have friends but we are continents apart and time difference is quite hard to beat.


I realized it’s normal to learn, to grow and to improve and not everyone will be doing it with me. I shouldn’t put my life on hold. I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to grow. It took a while to fully accept this but it’s worth it. In time for sure, the stars will align to bring me the friends I’m supposed to really have and keep for life. For now, I will continue to live in alignment with my truth.


(Disclaimer: The following are thoughts on Outgrowing Friends and why it’s okay. I have changed names to protect their privacy.)

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Special thanks to She Hit Refresh​ and to everyone who contributed for my enlightenment.


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Jana Garcia on People and Untold Stories


It was 2010. Fresh out of University. Finally. After seven years, three different schools and three different fields of study. I almost lost faith that I will ever get a degree and so were my parents. I haven’t asked myself what to do with my life. I guess I have always been lost. This time, I still have a hangover from too much dependency but I wanted to be on my own so bad.


Not even a month after graduating, I found myself a job that required two weeks of night training.

In one of those two weeks of night training was when I found out that an angel fell from the sky. I met Jana. At quick glance I’d exclaimed, what a pretty little girl but when she belted out Heart’s Alone, I almost fell from my chair. Who sings this kind of song at three in the morning? All mouths in that training room were left open. We knew never to mess with Jana. But what was she doing in this company? Is this company an avenue where lost people meet? I asked myself number of times. A pretty face and that hair-raising voice. A very clear passport to stardom.


But we never seemed to dwell on it so much. Instead of finding who we really were and using our gifts, we found ourselves partying, drinking and karaoke bar hopping.

Fast forward to 2018, I found myself liking her Facebook Fan Page and couldn’t stop plaguing her with these questions and reminisce how we used to spend our carefree younger days. 


This Village Girl: It was 2012 when we last talked. I remember you giddily called me. I was in the bus that time. You were asking me if I wanted to try and be a back up singer too for this Destiny’s Child-like girl band but because I was sooooo insecured with all my flaws, I said no though my heart and soul were so thrilled. I remember your voice dropped a decibel before we hang up. Be, please tell me what happened after that phone call because the next thing I know after 6 years, I was liking your Facebook Fan Page and every photo from your gigs.


Jana Garcia: What happened after our conversation, I continued being a back up singer for the group. Also there were lots of opportunities that happened that came up. I was able to do back up singing with some renowned local and international artists.

After 2 years of being a back up singer, I decided to part ways from the girl group and I finally had the courage to perform my own (original) songs. I was signed as an artist but after a year, had to give up this career because I was struggling financially and needed a more stable job.

But music soon called upon me AGAIN. By this time, the cash flow was getting better. So I pursued a career as an “Independent Artist”, playing my compositions all around the metro.

TVG: What is your fondest musical memory that made you say, “this is my passion and calling! I will be a famous singer!”

Jana: For “this is my passion and calling!” – from an early age, I’ve always known that singing in front of a large crowd is what I am meant to do. And that calling, was further strengthened when I started being a worship leader.

For “I will be a famous singer” – being famous is not my goal as an Artist, I want to leave a legacy through my songs and performances.

TVG: Sino ang idolo ni Jana Garcia bukod kay Kitchie? Anong paboritong kanta ni Jana Garcia? (Who is Jana Garcia’s idol apart from Kitchie Nadal? What is Jana Garcia’s favorite song?)

Jana: Marami akong influences at ni-lolook up to, Ely Buendia, Ebe Dancel, Corrine Bailey Rae, to name a few. Ganun din sa songs, sobrang dami kong gustong kanta… Kaya di ko masabi kung ano talaga paborito ko. (I have a lot of influences and look up to a lot of artirts like Ely Buendia, Ebe Dancel, Corrine Bailey Rae to name a few. The same with songs, I love a lot of songs that’s why I can’t say what my favorite is.)

TVG: I know that your sister also bagged a recording stint.

Jana: Actually my sister was not signed as a recording artist, she was signed to be a future actress. But she did not continue the deal as her schooling became her priority.


TVG: Is your entire family into music?

Jana: Yes.

TVG: May comparison ba? (Is there a comparison?)

Jana: Wala (None)

TVG: Selos? (Jealousy?)

Jana: Wala (None)


TVG: Support?

Jana: They are very supportive.


TVG: Discouragement?

Jana: None, They always encourage me.


TVG: May creative process ba si Jana Garcia? (Does Jana Garcia have a creative process?)
Depende sa sitwasyon…pero, It is my trade secret hahaha (Depends on the situation but it is my trade secret. hahaha

TVG: I know you used to teach in Center for Pop, Be and that you play the guitar. Which music instruments do you play?

Jana: I play the Guitar and a little bit of keys.

When did you start playing and do you have formal lessons for singing and for all other instruments that you play? What was the first piece you learned and mastered?

Jana: I started playing the guitar when I was 8. BUT I didn’t take it seriously. When I was 9, I enrolled in YAMAHA School of Music and took voice lessons. First song that I mastered (singing while playing the guitar) was “leaving on a jet plane”


TVG: What was the most trouble you got into?

Jana: Naku, marami, pero pinaka trouble ko was I lost my identity as an artist, parang naligaw ako to the point na di ko na alam ang purpose ng mga ginagawa at mga kaya kong gawin. (A lot but the most trouble for me was when I lost my identity as an artist like I was lost to the point that I don’t know the purpose of what I am doing and what I can do.)


TVG: What are you most proud of?

Jana: Wala eh, alam ko kasi na lahat ng meron ako, or lahat ng mga kaya kong gawin, my talents, skills, gifts, lahat ‘to pinahiram lang ni Lord sa akin.. (None because I know that everything that I have and everything that I can do, my talents, skills, gifts, and all of these were only laoned to me by the Lord.)

TVG: How is the OPM scene nowadays be. 4 years na kong wala sa Pinas eh. (I’ve been away for four years)

Jana: sobrang buhay na buhay ang opm scene. Maraming naglalabasan na magagaling na banda, artists, at performers. Nakakatuwa kasi kahit younger generation sobrang mismo at magagaling. (OPM scene is so alive. There are so many good bands that are coming out and it’s fascinating because even the younger generation are so good.)

TVG: I look up to you be because I know passion brought you where you are. What will you tell someone like me who is skeptic or scared in starting to follow their dreams?
Jana: Our passion is bigger than our fear. Huwag sayangin kung anuman ang meron ka. Maiksi lang ang buhay. Gawing reality ang dream! (Don’t waste what you have. Life is short. Live your dreams.)

TVG: I was watching the official music video of Di Biro and I couldn’t help but cringe It is so beautiful. Where do you draw inspiration?

Jana: (bebe, di ba ang meaning ng cringe, nandiri? Hahaha) . (bebe, cringe means disgusted right? Hahaha. ) There are points in our lives when we fall madly in love. When it seems like madness for others, for us it’s just true love.

TVG: What is your favorite part about this line of work?

Jana: If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life

TVG: Your least favorite?

Jana: None Why? Lahat kasi ng nangyayari, pangit or maganda, oks saakin kasi, they are memories and lessons to treasure. (Everything that happens, ugly or beautiful, is okay with me.)

TVG: Ano na ang average day sa buhay ni Jana Garcia? Alam ko marami ng nagbago. (What is an average day in Jana Garcia’s life? I know a lot has changed.

Jana: Average day ko, pagkagising pa lang I always thank God for His Goodness! I do some quiet time alone with God. Since I got married, sa umaga nag aasikaso sa bahay at sa aking husband (bilang asawa hehe) (mornings are for chores and for my husband as a wife hahaha)

I also have a full-time job as a Social Media Strategist for a musical instruments manufacturer then, gig naman sa gabi. (gig at night) Sometimes, rehearsals and/or meetings.


TVG: Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?


Jana: Oo naman. And i think normal yun sa lahat. (Yes of course. I guess it;s normal for everybody.)


TVG: How do you deal with stage fright? It’s like I have never seen that you’re scared to perform. It’s like you belong up there. You always owned that stage.

Jana: I pray, and always depend on HIM. Nervousness, oo lagi! Di nawawala sa akin yung kabahan. Again, Normal yata talaga yun lalo na pag naeexcite magperform (Yes always. Nervousness is for me always there. Again, I think it’s normal especially when you’re excited to perform.

TVG: How often do you practice be?

Jana: At least twice a week. (well, should be everyday hahaha)

In the end, I was wrong. She’s no fallen angel. She’s a star and always belong up there to always shine. Keep shining Be. Keep inspiring. Remember, you have a fan in me and that you’ll always be my peg in making my dreams come true.


Stay tuned for her new single under Warner Music PH that will be released on November 30 and the official music video on December 1.


You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Jana Garcia Fan Page


You can also subscribe to her YouTube Channel


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Photo credits:

Shangrila Photography


The Day my Favorite Flea Market Dress Got Featured

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Fashion has always been one of the many little things that light me up and make me feel good.


There has also been a phase where I became obsessed and addicted to shopping and collected every latest fashion must-haves.


As a teenager who used to collect Seventeen, Teen Vogue, Vogue and other fashion magazines, I would often daydream about one of their fashion editors approaching me on the streets and asking about where I got my outfit of the day, what’s inside my bag and where do I go to shop so I must always remember where I got my stuff. I always dreamed of working for biggest fashion brands though it is a very hard world to penetrate especially because it’s so hard to look for affordable pieces for plus size girls in the Philippines then. I developed my own style and worked harder to lose some weight and feel and look my best.


Being on the heavy side didn’t stop me from experimenting, being adventurous and bold not just in fashion but also in life.


I am such a YOLO advocate as everyone should be.


So when Lookvine wrote to me saying they would love to feature one of my favorite dresses that I got from a flea market in the Philippines for 1.50 Euros, I got so thrilled. This dress is a perfect country and continent-hopping company and survived summer (with gladiator sandals), spring (with a nice cardigan and brogues), winter (with thermal leggings, cardigan, winter jacket and boots) and fall (with stockings, and blazer).



blue flowy dress




Who knows where this dress will still go.

You can read full feature here.


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Vietnam and my Newfound Bravery

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My body is in Ho Chih Mihn. Inside a tour bus that would bring us to a tile factory of some sorts. It’s all blurred not because it has been two years. It’s blurred even before the plane touched Vietnam grounds. I noticed how I have always been planning little escapes. I mean, I’m happy. Am I not? I just wanted to explore. Life is short. You know, YOLO. I just don’t know where I got the guts to start doing it on my own.


A typical poor Filipino expat will be saving her money and not splurge for some luxurious foreign thing called travel but I couldn’t help it. Rather broke than bored. You know. Their combination is more lethal making depression and hopelessness sound a bit more enticing.


As I look through Ho Chih Mihn’s super busy streets plagued by motorbikes, my entire body felt numb. How I got from the airport to my hotel was still a wonder and how I crossed the street to buy food still remained a mystery. Sure the lousy traveler in me hailed a cab from the airport but the driver let me out across the hotel. That meant I had to figure out how to stay alive midst the throng of raging motorbikes. The hotel’s guard in front of the hotel saw my agony. He looked to his left and then to his right but when two guests stepped over the hotel’s threshold, his face showed that he couldn’t leave his post to come save the damsel-in-distress in me. He nodded and closed his eyes as if to show me to just close my eyes and walk towards the hotel.

I hesitated for a moment. For few seconds I stood there not knowing how to make the motorbikes stop.

I could be waiting there until my knight in shining armor shows up but I haven’t set Tinder up so he wouldn’t have a clue that I needed saving. When I felt that none of the motorbike drivers picked up the mental signals I am sending them, I took a brave step forward with a shaky leg and crossed while calling out on every saint they introduced me in the Catholic school where my mom sent me. I lived in Manila. I will survive this savagery.


A motorbike’s tire almost touched my right leg but the driver maneuvered his bike behind me as if it was the most normal thing to do. I was surprised that I was not screamed at. I noticed that the drivers were avoiding me so I could cross the street. It was amazing. I felt special.


Later on I tried crossing the street with my eyes closed. I made it. I’m still alive and now inside the tour bus waiting for other tourists outside their hotels.


As the other tourists started pouring inside the bus, I was just filling me eyes of the new place. Tiny table and low lying stools splattered on the sides of the streets made Vietnam to have that warm inviting feeling that makes other races want to see it and stay longer than they originally wanted to.


I never saw myself without a Nem Cuon, the famous spring rolls, Pho or Bánh mì.








I have heard English Teaching is such an industry here. (Get certified to teach English here and use village35 code for 35% discount). Do I want to live here? This country looks like my country only we didn’t have these low lying tables sprawled on the sidewalks.


My train of murky thoughts was interrupted by a bump on my right hip. Someone sat beside me. A girl. She’s white and blonde. I smiled and she said hi confirming my guess that she might have been an American.


“If he will not propose, I will say yes to a two year Peace Corps post in Africa.” she exclaimed. How come she said that, I couldn’t remember anymore. It was not even five minutes into pleasantries. What did you ask Danica?


I was astonished by the bravery this girl is emitting. I only recalled asking her if is she’s traveling alone. She said that she is supposed to be doing this trip with his boyfriend but he didn’t come with her. I thought stories like this only happen on TV or in one of those romance books that I couldn’t take my hands off to. Some of the facts might have been inaccurate. My head swirled and only focused on what she will do in case her boyfriend will not propose.


What did she lose telling me? Nothing. What did she gain? A lighter feeling and a fan in me. Chances are our paths will never cross again. She’s an angel who delivered an important life message to me. I must admit that my life has not been the same since that day. I no longer sit to wait for things to happen and for people to show up. I no longer kill time realizing that time is actually all I have and it’s slowly killing me. Time will not pause for me. Now is the perfect time to enjoy what I always wanted to. Now is the perfect time to be alive. I can no longer be a slave to something that makes me put the life that I want to live on hold.


Our conversation was interrupted by a Filipino couple behind us asking if I am a Filipino. The four of us ended up being together during the trip and for some beers and some more Vietnamese food later.


Though I normally travel alone, I never was really alone. I keep on meeting people on the road that seemed like bearers of important life messages and Philosophy teachers in disguise. They might not know it but my thoughts are now shaped differently than how it was when I was still in the safe premises of my little comfort zone and that my goosebumps never stopped as we cruised the Mekong River that I only heard of in History class.


Normally I wouldn’t ask a fellow traveler’s Facebook account when I’m on the road but fate wanted it differently. I sensed that I will be needing it for some more inspiration.


Few months later, I saw the girl posting pictures on Facebook showing that she is already teaching in Africa. I gathered that her boyfriend didn’t propose and instead of hosting a sob party, she carved out a path where she can pursue her passion. If that is not bursting with so much courage and bravery, I don’t know what is. She might not remember me anymore but the impact she made in my life will always be a reminder of how Vietnam started changing the direction of the wind that blows my sail.


The bravery I found in Vietnam is the same bravery I will carry wherever the wind will bring me.


What about you? How do you define bravery and what’s the bravest thing you’ve seen?

Mekong River cruise

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A Love Letter to my Favorite Student

a letter to my favorite student

My Ever Dearest Student,


I don’t want to play favorites but since you are the youngest, allow me tell you that at 19, your age, is when I wish the world, at least mine, has stopped revolving. That time, I didn’t mind crawling on my way back home, sleeping in my neighbor’s lawn nor partying again the following day and just let hangover be cured by another drinking session. I wish I see things like how I see them now then maybe I am not having panic attacks every five minutes. I was one of those kids who was always in gasoline stations, drinking and skipping classes.


Let me tell you that there are so many cooler things to be done aside from that. Being ignorant isn’t cool. I wish I chose to learn more so I don’t feel insufficient most of the time. How can I wonder where time went when I relentlessly killed it wishing I was older and now that I am older, I want to punch fairy godmother in the throat for refusing to undo that silly wish.


You were just my classmate then. You were the kid with few words. The only one who refuses to laugh at our German teacher’s wickedly dark dry jokes. You were the fastest to learn the awful German language but still chose to remain lull about it. You always sit across me and I didn’t know that you’re the group’s baby who required more attention, affection and guidance. One day you got tired of scowling and smiled at me. I smiled back and that same afternoon, we all went to eat ice cream. It was hard to explain that I can only have one scoop because my metabolism isn’t as fast as it used to be and I am sure that it will just sit proudly on my hips and thighs. 


Please know that I feel flattered when you and our other classmates constantly bug me to hang out to check the nightlife out. It was hard to say that I can’t stand loud music anymore and i don’t want you and the others dragging me out of the pub after one drink. I will never forget how your mouth dropped when I showed you my passport to reveal my real age because you won’t believe when I tell you that I am not a teenager anymore and that I will be your teacher soon. Asians don’t age so fast and this is one of the things I am thankful for.


With your limited English and my limited German, I can’t make you see the entire picture. I am avoiding hanging out with you because I want to maintain a professional distance and not because I am scared of you being a Muslim and whatever hideous things society attached to it. I am avoiding hanging out with all of you because I can’t promise that I will be able to control my sobs when I hear all of your heart-wrenching stories. I am not that brave. My heart isn’t as cold as I am projecting it to be. I am “avoiding” hanging out with all of you because my bills won’t fend for themselves. Studying and working at the same time is a bitch. My parents have a point when they didn’t allow me to do both of them earlier.


These days, even shaping my brows needs to be in my appointment list.


One day my wish of you finding a girl came true and I can’t describe the happiness I am seeing from you. I wish you knew how genuinely happy I am for you. You literally seemed floating after the class just to be with this young lady and can’t stop talking about her and how you both loved football. Oh. Puppy love! Days passed and your glow was just making the entire room bright and I was silently hoping to feel what you’re feeling too but I have things to do and can’t decide if I want a prince charming or pursue my dreams. I sucked at juggling and my love life isn’t something to be proud of. Nevertheless, I still wished for your happiness to continue, for your love to flourish and for you to be a man I somehow hoped you to be. I prayed the lord to continue to inspire you to be motivated. You might not know this but I feel like you’re the son I still don’t have.

But I will never forget that one sunny afternoon after our class. I just wasn’t able to ask why you looked so different during the class. Won’t smile. Won’t look at me and won’t reply to my Whats-app messages. We used to exchange messages even during the class. I called to cancel my babysitting that afternoon to invite you for ice cream. You said yes but I waited for us to be seated in the nearby park to ask you what’s wrong. You looked away and said “She is gone.” I understood what you meant but I pressed for details.


As your mother, I want to know not because I am nosy but because I want you to tell me how you feel about it. I want you to feel better. “Her dad saw us playing football in the park and approached us. He asked his daughter how he knew me and his daughter said I am a Refugee. The father looked at me and asked if I speak German. He told me that he doesn’t want me having anything to do with his daughter and to break contact immediately.” You said with a voice so controlled so tears won’t fall. I didn’t know what to say. I can’t pretend to be cool because nothing is to be cool about it. I was so mad. My heart was crashed into thousand tiny pieces. I want to be mad at the world for being this harsh to you. I wanted to take away the pain that you feel. I wish I can change the world for people like you. Your innocence doesn’t deserve this. I wish I didn’t ask for details. I wish I just pretended not to care and maybe that way I wouldn’t know how crap this world can be. “It’s okay. You’re young and you’ll find another girl.” It was the most nonsense reply I could give you but what can I say to make you feel better? Nothing. It is the way it is. There is nothing at that moment that can make it better.


“Focus your attention in learning and do all the sports you want. It’s not easy I know but it will just pass.” I even told you. I just hope that my hugs made you feel that I will always be here for you no matter where I will be. One day though, I know I will be able to tell you that I became a better person just by eating ice cream with you.


Please share if you liked it.


#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://nikhsplorer.wordpress.com *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. =)

My American Idol



A year ago, I met a girl I didn’t know I will consider as one of the bravest, gutsiest and strongest woman I know despite her small and frail Asian frame. She is born and raised in the States, I’m from the Philippines and we met in Malaysia. What an indeed small world.


This girl sounded so much like those girls that I only see in the Hollywood films I am hooked to and I honestly thought I will never be able to get along well with her. I don’t even have that Valley Girl accent. I’m just a naive village girl who sees everything as magic. As we spent most nights chit chatting over beer, pigging out, swimming or just laughing about crazy stuff, she has told me how she dropped everything for love, flew halfway around the globe, left her career, comfortable and secured life in exchange for a promise of a happy ever after. It turned out that fairy tales aren’t for everyone. Things didn’t work as planned. They broke up.


During this stage, she realized what went wrong. She said she became needy, clingy, dependent and all the other things she wasn’t able to notice and what she has become as a result of having so much free time in her hands. Not that it was solely her fault but she can only speak on her behalf.


She was left unemployed, away from home, close to being broke but still, feisty, hopeful and positive as ever. She was full of ideas and she never lost the drive to become successful. I saw and I still can see how she works her ass off in picking up the pieces she lost along the way. I admire the resilience and strength I can see from her. I know how painful everything is but all I can ever do was to cheer her up in the smallest way I know and observe how she handles the craziness. She is now married to a guy she met in Malaysia and they are now living happily together in the US. My Mom was wrong. There is happy ending. We just have to search patiently for it. She has become one of the few people I look up to; a mentor and an inspiration. I was mentally taking notes and to be honest, I told myself that the day will come that I will not have any qualms about doing what I think will make me happy. We indeed don’t meet people by accident. They will for sure teach us a thing or two. And through her example I became more eager to be able to say that I have done what she has fearlessly done; dropped everything that weighs me down, risked everything and chased happiness. I will savor every second of this precious life. Money really isn’t everything. Call me a fool and unrealistic but this is how I choose to live my life. If it is money that will make a person truly happy, by all means, go for it. As for me, as long as I have basic needs, I will be fine. Life is too short to harbor on negative vibes and material things alone. If one day I felt the strong urge to be different and the things I am doing aren’t enough and not making me happy, it will never hurt to turn around and go back to what I was doing. Life should only be lived in one direction and that is towards happiness.



2 years later…



Dear Diary,


I left my job, my life and everything that I worked so hard for that thought I wanted all along. What now? I didn’t leave it for romantic love but to find my love for myself, to trace my roots and to push beyond the limits that I know I have. I am so scared that I have turned these fears to a god. Diary, it’s not easy to start again but I am lucky because not everyone who wants to start again gets the chance to. I don’t know where life is taking me and I will lie if I will say that the idea of turning around and live like how others are living doesn’t cross my mind. I mean, that’s easier but I don’t know if I will ever choose the easy path again and live everyday as if I am a dead fish being drifted along the safe shore. Diary, my parents aren’t very happy with how I’m choosing to live my life now and I’m afraid they will not be happy anytime soon. They will get by for sure. I know my happiness is what they want and I trust that in God’s perfect time, they will understand that I’ve never felt anything like this before. I have never felt this content and fulfilled before. I realized that the lesser I give a flying f*ck, the happier I feel. I also stopped giving a piece of sh*t to what other people are saying. It’s my life and who cares if my dreams spell nothing but possible. All I know is that I will not just pay bills then die. Diary, I can’t name every single emotion I felt but it felt good. Diary, as I read and reread what I wrote two years ago and how I admired this lady, who would have known that I will do what she did not to prove that I’m a brat but to say that it’s okay to chase happiness and we don’t have to explain. If the unknown scares me now, regrets of not doing what I wanted when I still can in my deathbed sounds scarier. People who broke my heart, made me laugh and taught me how to stand up for and love myself and to dream another crazy dream again are the best people I met in this lifetime and I know, I am bound to meet more of them and they will say…


Dear Danica,


Live a little.

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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