WHO would have thought that a P5,000 starting capital for chicken legs, isaw and chicken head alacarte will come a long way?

In 1997, Majii Ravala, a native from Capiz in Panay Island, along with her husband and two kids, were invited by a relative to settle down in Cagayan de Oro.

When they arrived in the city, immediately they found a niche to settle down at Corrales Avenue near Xavier University (XU).

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They then thought of a good means of living that won’t require going outside the house since Majii want to make sure that she would have more time to her children, especially Gezelle, a special child whom she considers as her lucky charm.

Majii decided to accept boarders and started her alacart during nighttime to cater to her boarders.

After two months of hard work and effort, her business – which she named Ilongga Eatery – became an instant hit.

From isaw to chicken parts, she added barbecue, pork chops, bangus, shrimps and squid along with their special sawsawan that has lots of spices to compliment the alacar that as early as 9:00 p.m., all that she cooked were sold out.

Words then spread like wind that her way of cooking alacart is different from the rest. And then came a bunch of customers, mostly students from Xavier University (XU) who eventually became regular costumers.

Not long after, Majii decided to cook viands to compensate the demands of the customers, which up to now became the first choice of their regular customers.

Her specialty includes Bicol Express, Humba, chicken curry that customers cannot live without. She also has different kinds of vegetables depending on the likes of her customers, in a very affordable price that will completely satisfy their cravings.

As early as 10:30 a.m., old time costumers, employees and students from different schools such as XU, Capitol University, Lourdes College and as far as Liceo de Cagayan University in Carmen, would fall in line to dine in at Ilongga’s Eatery.

Due to customers’ demands, Majii started accepting catering service from clients who patronized her eatery for a cheaper price of P50 with rice, one viand and vegetable.

Majii said the secret to her success is to cook the food without being “thrifty” with the ingredients and use meat only from known establishments to make sure its freshness.

She also emphasized that “good customer relations” is one secret, treating the customers like family. But this also goes with sanitation and quality of food to make the business run longer.

Now that her rolling capital has reached P20,000, Majii was able to buy a lot near SM mall, sent one of her child to a prestigious school and built a house. But of course, her success came with the undying support and effort of her husband. (Nicole J. Managbanag)