Chapter 1: The young Juliana.

         The wind came and left rapidly, unstoppable like time. The world used to be so wide and clear that I actually felt like if I stared too long to the sky, it was going to swallow me. Now I’m lying down on a roof and it feels like the world became smaller. I can see the edges on each corners of my eyes. 

@shutterkissed (Gerard Del Mundo)
@shutterkissed (Gerard Del Mundo)

Growing up in a village with lush mountains and vast green fields was one of the many beautiful memories I’m grateful to have. I was born during the era when playing was physical. Swim and catch fishes from the pond under the sun together with other kids, hunt spiders and random fruits. Ran bare-feet on the vast oasis. I always got scolded whenever I came home with my muddy clothes because I went to the farm alone to gather the crops farmers’ missed from harvesting.

The sense of discovery brought me to unfamiliar places and found new paths to wander. Until now I’m still surprised how fierce and lucky I am whenever I stuck my hands into those holes to catch frogs and never a single snake.

The most amazing thing back then was waking up the next day with a fresh memory if yesterday wasn’t good.

My grandmother was beautiful. her hair was like the waves of the ocean clipped with a ribbon. She was hard-working. Toughest woman I’ve ever known and she always amazed me on how she manage to still look beautiful after a long tiring day of walking to search for food.

I wish I was able to help her buy medicine and treat her diabetes back in the day because I always heard her cry at night when it was causing her pain. It gave me the wrong impression that hospitals were only for dying people because she never let us bring her there. But I was wrong, hospitals were for people who can afford to live longer.

      If only I was older.
I stayed at school the whole day while others goes home for lunch because my grandmother got more ill and there was no food at home. I spent time running on field during those hours or lie my head on the grasses to rub time. I remember my classmate called Mylene, she was the oldest from our class but everyone thinks she’s dumb because she was with us on the same level. For me, she was my friend because we always shared her food at lunch. Her house is about 3kilometers from school and she lives in the end of the village in the middle of the rice field. We will share a scrambled egg and tomatoes. She was so generous even when she didn’t have much to share. I wonder where she is now.We shared the silence and only crickets made the sound.

         At young age, my instinct showed my way to survive. The beating of my chest, the colors of the sky and mountains to contemplate.

I was able to buy myself a pair of slippers and medicine for my grandmother from selling on the streets at eight years old. I still remember how my other pair of slippers went with the fast running water while I was crossing the muddy bamboo bridge. I followed and watched it go away. My grandmother got so worried and asked me where I went but I didn’t tell her what happened. I stayed at the river because I couldn’t let go of my slippers.  She was shouting at me and I was scared to say anything. I ended up getting hit by a wood at the back of my legs.
I was in grade school when everyone treats me different. They always asked me favors and do something for them, buy them food because the canteen was far away. They gave parts of it and that’s how I survived breaks during grade school. I let them because I needed them.

IMG_2658-4          One day my teacher pulled me out from the class because I got caught stealing ice candy from the canteen. All I wanted was eat. From that day on things got even worst. I felt discriminated everyday. I experienced bullying and rejection everyday. No one wanted to sit close to me or take me to their groups. It was horrible. I felt all alone. Until I found safety letting my hair cover my face to feel a little bit safer from those people who just wanted to hurt me. Thank goodness to those magazines and story books hiding from the shelves. I had something to do during those years. I was always alone. I was always placed at the back with broken seat.

I got used to being ignored and somehow it felt safe. I felt like I had the super power of being invisible. It was easier for me to move without thinking about what people think.

After classes before I can play out, I had to finish my tasks at home. Fill up water containers, wash dishes, or gather some woods for cooking. Finish everything early so I can play longer. We lived near little forests and farms. Dragon flies go in search of place to sleep during sunset. It was the best part of my days, watching butterflies, catching dragon flies and the sun kissing my skin and playing shadows from its golden rays. That time when the only beauty I appreciate were the beauty of nature. These were the times I missed the most. The simplicity of life, the freedom and joy that I might not able to feel anywhere again anymore.

One time I made a kite. It wont fly even if it was made of 2 wings and a tail. I didn’t understand.

 “How come when it looked exactly like the other kites?”

I kept running and running. Out of madness both wings were detached rapidly rotating until it started stay up. I was so happy! It was one of those happy memories I can’t forget. I made something that flies high. It became my daily routine, something I get excited to wake up to every day –to fly my kite.

But one windy day, like the rest of the days, I was excited! I thought the weather was perfect to fly kite. I let it go until the string reached the bottom. It got so high and so small but the string was getting harder enough to let me know that the wind was strong. I rolled it fast but it was too late. My kite dispersed like the clouds with the wind.

Carelessness. I didn’t realized that the wind was higher and stronger up there. I was focused on getting higher and higher-I didn’t consider the capacity of my kite. I was still holding the string that connected me to it but my kite’s gone.

Then came High School, I got 50% scholarship from the government also with the help of the school.

But nothing has changed. Maybe faces and names but my situation remained. I realized I’ll just keep being invisible because It will keep me away from people. They didn’t even remember my name until second year.

Second year High school. The most challenging and unforgettable moment of my life happened. It was before Christmas.

My dreams died as the love of my life and the only person who was there for me left me forever, my Grandmother.

I started blaming God, the nature and everyone about all the misfortunes and heartaches I had to face at a young age. I didn’t know what was going to happen with me without her. I was scared. I have never asked anything more in this world. I tried not to be a baggage to anyone. I found ways to answer my own questions. I never complained with my life but fate was hard.

I was meant to be too young to find ways to extend my grandmother’s life. I had to be born through a married father with a young mother who wasn’t prepared to raise a child alone. Left me to my grandmother who had six children who will also leave me before Christmas Eve -before I was even able repay her. Those were moments when the unknown was the only beautiful thing there is. When tomorrow was the only gift. I was given an armor of bravery and fearlessness from these experience. The ability to look forward without looking back because everything was dark.

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There’s always a light waiting at the end of the tunnel.

I was completely on my own. I broke walls I built around me and let people do what they want with me. There was nothing more to lose only lessons to gain. Pain struck me long enough to be weak. I didn’t want to live and die in the same way in the same place. I want to live the way I want my life to be.


I traveled to the city and it was not an easy start. I had to go through shit holes before I even got started. I had to deal with different faces of hypocrisy and try to find my balance in between. I was naive but slowly I have learned. I know that you are not striking if you have nothing to offer. You know this thing called beginner’s luck? I guess it was all because of it. At some point I was scared to put down all my card but I’ve got to play it and hope for better cards.

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Awaken from that long nightmare, tears of joy came rushing on my cheeks. It was like a dream. I found myself walking on a stage with a spotlight on my face, on the bright runway. People watching, taking photographs of me. ‘That moment I didn’t have to do anything anymore but to keep my head up and be proud. I made money just like that. I used to think I would have to clean toilets first before I am able to make that kind of money. But ofcourse it took me a while to finally get used to the pain fitting my ginger-feet inside that six-inches stiletto. Tears of joy every time I got new projects. I’ve never felt so relieved. I didn’t expect to become any of it. I was just glad its over.

In no time, I left Philippines for the first time. I had my first plane ride traveling to Zurich, Switzerland at the age of 19. My first love. The first person who showed me a beautiful reflection of myself. He believed in me and loved me more than anyone could ask. With him I learned that love is he most beautiful feeling there is to feel and to give. I was free and he let me transform into a beautiful butterfly that I can ever be. I was in Lucerne, on the mountains of San Moritz, apartments in Basel then back to Philippines. As soon as I arrived, I became an official candidate of the most prestigious national beauty competition in the Philippines, Miss Philippines Universe, whoch changed my life, it was around 2012. I didn’t win but it was an instrument for me to gain confidence and projects. I travelled back to Zurich then to Paris, encountered a beautiful woman named Julie, who asked me if I could walk for her show in Zurich while I was at her boutique. I walked-in to some agencies in Europe and tried to model. I went back to Philippines and again, my life was on fire, I won Ms. Resorts World 2012-3rd Runner up, then travelled to Singapore as a prize, I couldn’t believe what was just happening to my life. Year 2014 represented Philippines for Asia New Star Model–FACE of the Philippines. It was a competition held in Korea where I met every every race in Asia then a lot more magical things followed. 2015, I won a place for Miss Manila. 

I realized these dreams were actually not my dream. To go back and see the world I used to have is has been the dream. I have always had it, I just didn’t know it.

From the day that I lost those slippers, it taught me to be tough and learn to let go of things even those that are precious to you because there was no use of holding on to those feelings. Take unbeaten paths and be brave to walk alone.

Those times I let people hurt me, I couldn’t be more thankful to them, I learned more wisdom and passion just as they missed those important lessons I learned along the way. They are the reason why I am wiser.

All the rejections and discriminations, they were my greatest momentum to learn to keep going even you feel so small. To watch thing from a distance to see things clearer, to read better, observe and be more sensitive about other people.

 

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To my grandmother, thanks for being tough. Thanks for leaving me enough wisdom and strength to face the world before you left. Now I know why you had to show me tough love.

To that kite that disappeared with the wind, it was a great lesson from the universe to find balance in between things. To discipline yourself in order not to get lost with the unpredictable direction of the wind. To always keep my connection to the ground. I know it’s not always a good place up there, it can be cold, lonely and sometimes it’s just going to break yourself apart.

As I grew older, I realized that we are only able to see our treasures when we are ready to have them. It could’ve been just in front of us the whole time but we were looking somewhere else and it’s alright. That’s life. We need to seek experience and ideas before we are able to see the beauty of life we have. It’s up to you. It’s your own definition of happiness or success. If you are looking for happiness, look for things that nurtures the soul and the key to that is to always know what your heart feels. If you want to be successful about something, you’ve got to use your craft. Develop, keep doing it until you master it. It doesn’t matter how slow you progress as long as you are not stepping back. We are part of a great masterpiece, part of the soul of the universe and it will bring us to where we are supposed to be. Sometimes we just get surprised for those things we never expect would actually happen to us.

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And up to now I’m still learning and learning from all my experiences and from everyone I meet along the way. From people passing by the streets, from all those amazing islands and mountains that welcomed me, from all these amazing people around me, for everything. I am grateful they happened to me.  My life is beautiful.

 

CHAPTER 2. WHERE IS SHE NOW?

NATURAL BEAUTY REMEDIES

           Years ago I didn’t know so much about taking care of myself. We didn’t have money but we had lots of plants and trees around the house. I learned that if you invest in yourself, people will also invest in you. So take care of yourself because it is the best you got.
To feel confident and feel good, first, you need to do something good to yourself.
There are many affordable or free ways to do this wether you are living on the mountains, islands or city. Here are the Natural Beauty Treatments I did this week. To to talk to you about it, I personally had to make and try them first.
1.  COFFEE FACE AND BODY SCRUB (CLICK THIS LINK FOR FULL VIDEO TUTORIAL)

Coffee scrub has several benefits that include: exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties, temporary reduction of cellulite, improved circulation, reduced eye puffiness, and smooth skin.

All you need is

  • Pressed COFFEE Powder.
  • Any kinds of SUGAR.
  • Organic/Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Any Recycled Container
  • Spatula
  • Bowl

Directions:

  1. Place the pressed coffee powder/tabs in a bowl.
  2. Add 1/4 lesser amount of sugar to the coffee powder then just 1/4 amount of coconut oil
  3. Mix it well using the spatula.
  4. Now that you have your home-made face and body scrub, put it in a container and leave it in the fridge.

So pag nasa hospital si Bakla, Aida agad?

Around my 24 years of existence, I have been surrounded with LGBT community, mostly gay who’s been part of my life and my career. Whenever someone’s been rushed to the hospital from their community, I often hear them say: 

“Omg, feeling ko may AIDS/HIV si bakla!”

Aren’t we supposed to be open-minded about it and support them instead of being disgusted to them?

My uncle was rushed in the hospital again today because he just had his tonsils removed (Tonsillectomy) and since he’s not been eating anything and there is no one to take care of him, he started eating solid food which was the only available food around even if the doctor foreboded him-that made the wounds bleed in his throat. Since he was just in the hospital not so long ago and then again today and we are all far away from him, internet was the only way he can inform people that he’s in the hospital again, then someone joked around (wether is serious or joke) posted “aida” (gay lingo means aids).
My point here is that, some people are just insensitive, pure idiots. I don’t understand why they think it’s a good joke or it’s alright to think that when a gay is in the hospital, they think of AIDS/HIV.

Wether it’s true or not, it’s never okay to discriminate people who are already sick. Grow up! You came out of the shadow for a reason. If you fought for your gender, you should also fight side by side for the things that comes with it. There are many people who just give up because they are alone during the fight. Some people are even insecure informing their friends they are in the hospital just because they are scared people will think they already got infected.

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But anyway, FYI, my uncle can slap you with his papers from the test he just took few months ago. From that day on he uses condoms so there’s no way he’s infected!

He’s sensitive right now because he’s sick and he’s feeling weak because he can’t eat. Can you imagine what he’s going through right now? So for those people out there who are ignorant about this, shush…!

 

Think before you speak, blink before you click!

And for those who’s got AIDS and HIV, keep fighting, there are many reason to stay alive. Find a friend or a lover who can be there with you all the way! You’re gonna pass through it.

 

An unsent letter to a stranger.

We were lying close together on the floor beside the water. We raised our beer bottles as we celebrated our life and love. You talked about the future. We talked about having a family, about having small number of children and where we are going to raise them. You even said we are going to marry twice that I actually thought you were kidding. One my way and one your way. We are going to build our home in a place with a nice garden where we can have bbq, lunch and dinners together with our children. It was a tickle to the soul. All I did is smile at you. You were certain it is me and you. Stars aligned for me that night.

I have a heavy feeling in my chest. I felt it every day. You’ve changed…like I don’t know you anymore. Your rythmn, your mind, your heart and your soul.

I don’t know you anymore.


Is it me or it is you who have actually changed?Maybe it’s just because I started to care more about what you think and how you feel? 

Is it my own ghost haunting me? 

We’ve drifted apart. 

You have awaken my insecurities. I used to know how you feel, what you were thinking, what you’d do. Now you’re just a stranger that’s squeezing my heart. 

Do you still love me? 

As I looked at myself in front of the mirror, I see a lonely reflection. This is where distance brought us. My heart hurts and my soul is slowly dying. Our love turned into poison, killing both of us slowly. I don’t know, maybe it’s only me. I am lost. I don’t know where else to go.

You have been my home but now I can no longer come to you. 

(PS. This letter was written last year, I just found on my notes. Everything is good now.)

Memories of Yudanaka

The way to Yudanaka

We have arrived at Yudanaka Station after having an amazing 50 minute of watching the beautiful mountain sceneries through the windows of the train from Nagano Station. There were apple farms, colorful and breath-taking landscapes. I didn’t even realize that we have arrived already at our destination. 

The Japanese Lifestyle

We stayed our first night at Hotel Yudanaka, where we have experienced a very unique vibe. I had the chance to wear a kimono and sleep on a Japanese bedroom.  

Yudanaka is a very preserved yet friendly little town. For dinner, we went to Japanese GOEN Restaurant and enjoyed delicious soup and yakitori where I had the chance to make a my own chicken meatballs with vegetables and finish with noodles and Sake to add a little bit of character. 

The next day the hotel served us their Japanese breakfast–which I didn’t like that much because I normally don’t favor pickles for breakfast–( but coffee was good!) After breakfast, the accomodation normally include free ride to the Snow Monkey Mountain trip.

On the way back you’re gonna have to take the bus that leaves atleast every 1.5hrs but we preferred to walk to see more of the little town. 

Along the way, we passed by a brewery that opens around 11am for tasting, a buddhist temple and (my favorite of them) the small street adventure with so many little Japanese stores and restaurants along the way. If you are also looking for ATM, you can find it inside the post office. 

By the way, the snow welcomed us when we arrived but the next days, the weather got more dry and sunny which made our trek to the snow mountain easier. We finished the night with a bath at the hotspring inside the hotel which was also very interesting to try. I had to be naked with all the other women and enjoyed 10mins of relaxation. 

The Snow Monkeys




Female snow monkeys live together while male snow monkeys only join the group when during mate season. They stick together to keep each other warm especially during winter. Just like humans, they are very protective of their children. 

A night to remember

We decided to have another night in Yudanaka and moved to another hotel called Shimaya. It was owned by amazing old Japanese couple who were bery accomodating and always try to help out to make every one of their guests trip easier. It was atleast 5-10mins walk from the station. Just like the other hotel, it also had a Japanese style bedrooms. We went to Takayama for dinner, a local restaurant very close to the Japanese GOEN (all walking distance). When we entered the restaurant, there were only locals. The vibe was super authentic Japanese. 

We ordered another Japanese soup which turned out to be the food for Sumo wrestlers. (But ofcourse smaller serving good for 2). It was managed by old Japanese Couple as well which the chef was the husband and the wife was the one taking care of the service. Before we left the restaurant, I had a photo only with the chef because the wife was too shy to join the picture. 

The group of Japanese guys came over to us after eating to give us a basket of fresh apples from their farm. It was so kind and sweet of them. And just like the other night, we reserved the hotel’s private ONSEN (hotspring), a 3 minute walk from the hotel to bond together since other ONSENS don’t allow couples to be together and we had the whole little cozy place for the night before going back to the hotel. It was such an amazing and unique experience. The cold weather and the hotspring, the wonderful mountains, the amazing culture and food, everything was worth it. 
Arigato Yudanaka!

Top-10 Most Instagram-able places in BGC

 1. WATERING HOLE.

    Are you looking for a great place to eat? Check out The Watering Hole. They serve amazing Filipino all-day breakfasts, lunch, mirienda and dinner from 8am-12am(weekdays),8am-3am(weekends).

    Sounds familiar? Yes! This is the same as the famous bar in the 90’s. The first independent Filipino brewery in the Philippines located in Shangri-La-spot.com. Now they are back to business! And this time, they are going to give you a mouth-watering food experience!

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The food does not only taste good but (hey!) also looks good!  The simplicity and variation of white and wooden interior gives a relaxing vibe while you eat.

MUST TRY: Super soft and tasty Wagyu Beef Tapa(Sukiyaki beef in sweet soy marinade) with your choice of egg and garlic fried rice or crispy Bagnet(pork belly) served with tomato salsa, shrimp paste and their house vinegar that surely will satisfy all your cravings. (Also Pinakbet and Pork Sisig)

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bagnet

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     Let this classic Filipino dessert/merienda bring you back the real taste of Filipino lifestyle.

SUMAN

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This place is definitely Instagram worthy!

ADDRESS: Forbestown Center, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City, For reservations: Call: (02)831-4692, Email:wateringholebgc@yahoo.com

UP NEXT……(New post every Wednesday!)

Palacio Amazonia

A weekend well-spent!

It was indeed a remarkable place to spend the weekend close to Manila. Palacio Amazonia is located in Taytay, Rizal, a private mansion consist of 12 rooms and two swimming pools, a spacious living room, a helipad and a secret cave which the owner said it was a room like the one in fifty shades of grey. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see it. It was a kick ass mansion with wild landscape.

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Manmade lagoon/swimming pool

view from the room.

There is a spacious living room with table sets where numbers of people can drink, dance, watch a movie or play a game.


Another one is the amazing panoramic view of the whole Manila from the helipad close to the pool. Oh my god! It was breath-taking even though the it cloudy. It’s rare to see a clear view when you’re just inside the city!
Before we went to bed after our night out, we played tropical house music. Then afterwards started dancing since I was the only one who didnt have a partner. 7th wheel to be exact. 

 

Thank you so much to my friend Mike for inviting us to his friend’s place. It was such an amazing weekend!

The Sleepy Guitar Vendor

I went for a walk today. I brought my camera with me and see which scenes it’s going to make me capture. I was thinking of writing reviews for restaurants but found myself shooting people along the streets. I am inspired, touched and moved in every story I was able to bring home with me.

Last 7 Months ago, I bought a guitar from this man. I saw him always carrying all these guitar along the streets then stopping by at this exact same spot before night. I passed by him again today. He was sitting trying not to fall asleep but he was very sleepy. I wish I could buy all his guitars. It was the guitar I bought for the old man working as cab driver who wanted to become a musician but couldn’t afford to buy. This guitar street seller was kind to give me one of his finest guitar even if I only had enough money for the smaller ones when I said I was buying it for the old man. Your family is lucky to have a husband and a father with such a big heart like yours.


It wasn’t a very busy time along the street so I kept walking to find something to eat. This father and his son spent time together playing and sitting behind their cart full of coconut while there was no customer.

After eating at one of my favorite restaurant to visit in Manila, I’ve crossed path with these two young men holding their balloons to sell along the streets. I knew the other boy was feeling a little bit embarrassed  but I admire these young men for trying to do something to earn. I used to be like them back in the day, when I was high school. I worked in a carnival to collect tokens on a running light. I was a little bit embarrassed because my classmates were looking down at me to see me work, I still  did it to be able to go to school.



This country is amazing! These simple things that the Filipino people do to keep living make this country different from others. We try and try because that’s is life. As long as you are still attached to your surrroundings, to people and still feel grateful, you are living the life. One day, we will all realized that it’s all those simple things that matter.

 

 

 

The Beauty of a Lisa Crosswhite

“She is amazing in every way. I am inspired by her attitude towards making her visions come to life, for believing in me and for seeing the beauty of everything through her heart.”

 

Who is Lisa Crosswhite?
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Lisa Crosswhite is one of the most remarkable women I have worked with. She is the CEO and founder of Gnossem, a retail business and later on founded her own brand, Chi Chi Von Tang, both based in Singapore. She started sketching fashion collections when she was nine but she was trained in Political Science and literature. As an artist and someone with such excellent background, there is no doubt she was able to execute extra-ordinary results. Her love and passion for Asian beauty and its diverse design heritage is the inspiration behind the brand Chi Chi Von Tang.

The Burma collection

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I walked for the show and chosen to model for the look book and cover of the website wearing the latest collection of Chi Chi Von Tang inspired by her travel in Myanmar where she lived with four different tribes. Burmese women are known for their strength, sophistication and mysterious way of living… so is Chi Chi Von Tang

The latest collection was made of fine silk, cuprous, highly textured linens and leathers. bag-2

9-3.JPG5721d9e162d90SHOP THIS LOOK!

Working with Lisa Crosswhite
First impression, Bad ass!

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Where on earth can you find a woman with such beauty, brain and mad skills? She’s a Founder and a CEO, she owns a unique brand, trained in Political Science and Literature but still with genuinely beautiful heart? She is amazing in every way. I am inspired by her attitude towards making her visions come to life, for believing in me and for seeing the beauty of everything through her heart.

Follow her Instagram: @myessentialself @chichivontang

 

 

 

Penne Pasta with super tasty meatballs

Preparation:

(40 mins)

Ingredients: 

Meatballs: Minced beef, Onion, Rosemary, Mustard, Salt and Pepper, Lemon

Pasta: Pesto, Penne pasta, Basil, Cherry Tomatoes, Olive Oil, butter

How to make:

STEP 1. Boil water in a deep pan.

STEP 2. Before putting the pasta, make sure the water is boiling. Add some drops of olive oil into the water for a better pasta texture. Add a little bit of salt then wait for 8-11minutes with medium heat.

STEP 3. While waiting, place 300grams minced beef in a bowl with two table spoon of mustard paste.

STEP 4. Minced one medium sized white onion and chopped rosemary leaves into very small pieces to add to the beef. Wash your hands or wear plastic gloves to mix everything together for a better taste.

STEP 5. Add salt and pepper and sprinkle some lemon. Once its mixed well, you can now make your meatballs. Make sure it’s not too big or too small.

STEP 6. When the meatballs are ready, cut one piece of garlic in half.

STEP 7. Wait until the pasta is al dente before taking it out of the water then place it in a new bowl. Sprinkle some olive oil so they won’t stick together.

STEP 8. Using the same pan from the pasta, wait until its dry from heat before adding the butter. Sauté the garlic until it turn golden brown.

STEP 9. Put some pesto sauce atleast 3 spoon. Wait for one minute before putting the meatballs. Cover the pan for 5minutes.

STEP 10. When the meatball is ready add cherry tomatoes. Mix carefully.

STEP 11. Add the pasta. Stir it carefully then add salt and pepper. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.

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ENJOY.