Marichel Teves-Magalona of Deco’s La Paz Batchoy

Deco’s Original La Paz Batchoy was founded before the war by Federico “Deco” Guillergan Sr., a butcher in La Paz Public Market. Deco, as what he is called by family and friends, loves to cook and experiment with soup by combining meke (noodles), pork meat, liver, intestines, and different spices. Deco’s soup, which he named batchoy, became a big hit with clients in the public market, encouraging him to expand his business. And the rest is history.

This 2020, Deco’s remained competitive despite all the frequent openings of gastronomic places around the metro for the last years. Let’s all learn how this old but gold brand continues to exist and be on top despite all the modernization, challenges, and opportunities brought about by other food niches.

Please share something a little about Marichel

I have always been business-minded all my life. I did not come from a family of businessmen. We are sugar planters from Negros Oriental. I do not know where I got this and honestly speaking in the family I think among the women I am the most negosyante. All the time, I am always looking for something to do, something to sell, something to work with my hand even when I was younger, and then finally, I started working for a newspaper. I was there for almost 10 years working as a manager for the newspaper. I then invested in a nail spa because of my kahiligon sa nail spa (fondness for nail spas). I was the first nail spa in Iloilo. And then there was an opportunity because somebody texted me If I was interested in buying Baron Barber Shop so I bought Baron Barber Shop and then that went on for quite a while and then after that, I was offered by Edgar Sia – I was asked him if there is something I can do for Deco’s and he offered me the licensee so, I jumped into it. That’s how it all happened. My hobbies are golfing, and eating and now I am venturing into farming. It is in a very early stage.

With all the food places to compete in Iloilo, how do you keep your menu and offers exciting?

Well, Batchoy is a heritage food. Like I mentioned to Mr. Sia when I met him, he opened various branches – Baguio, Manila and I told him you don’t go to Cebu or Davao to eat batchoy but when you land in Iloilo, you eat Batchoy. When it comes to competition, it will always be there. What do we do, batchoy, Deco’s is a heritage food. It has already gone through many years of experience. I guess, at this point, what we did with Deco’s is that we have standardized what it was before. We went back to how batchoy was made. Now that it is standardized, we are trying to keep it that way. We do not want to put rice meals, because we want to concentrate that we are a batchoy place. What I did was, we improved all our batchoy eating experience by making the place beautiful and Instagrammable – aesthetic. Batchoy is ramen so I made it like a ramen house. Many years ago, when batchoy started, it was like an open kitchen also in a rough setting because it was in the market. What we did not, it is in a modernized setting. It is still an open kitchen, you still sit around it but in a better place – aircon, very clean and very hygienic and you can see everything being done – there is no secret. Batchoy is batchoy. At the end of the day, it is your eating experience with batchoy that is important.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have encountered and what did you learn from them?

When I got Deco’s, I had to standardize everything. Each branch has a different cook and each of them has a different way. So, I rounded them up together, okay we have to do something about this. Since I know how to cook, you give me the ingredients, I can almost taste it without actually tasting it. When they gave me everything that they put into it, I already knew what it was going to be. The commissary prepares everything for the last onion mix. All the mixes we have and the measurements of the meat are all done here. The moment it is delivered to the branches, you just have to put the batchoy together. There is no secret. Everything is pre-measured, and counted, when they say make one laton (one laton is the big kaldero (pot)), they already know that it is one bottle of this, one bottle of that. Everything is measured already so every time you eat our batchoy, you will always taste the same. I spent 3 months to make everything consistent.

What is the biggest fulfillment you have in having this business venture?

I am very happy that there is a batchoy in Iloilo where you can have a very nice dining experience. It is not the mainit (humid) and the langaw (flies).  It is the same whenever branch you eat batchoy – eating experience.

Any final message or advice you can share with someone who is dreaming about having a restaurant?

I have always wanted to open a restaurant but I am also scared. There is a tendency here in Iloilo wherein they try you and then they forget you. Two to three months high, then after that it is gone. That is the sad part so I do not know but one, they have to be very careful. Second, they have to make sure that their food tastes good. If you have the idea of the “pwede na”, it’s not going to work so you have to make it excellent. If it cannot be excellent, at least make it delicious. It is just sinugba but namit imo sinugbabalikan ka gid ya no matter what. I have eaten in some places, nga ay, I think I can eat better in my house. I have eaten in very few places here in Iloilo which is very good. Other than these places, people in my house cook better.

To Mam Marichel, the dining experience is very important. Dining experience is the number one and sometimes it can add flavor to the food. Everything – the staff, customer service, restrooms even the little things like the way they clean the table.


Sheila is a digital marketing enthusiast. She is a kdrama fan, a dog person and a certified foodie!

Next Post

Iloilo Barter Community

Sat May 16 , 2020
Barter is a term used when two parties exchange good or services without using money. It is an old method that even our ancestors were doing when Philippine currency was still unavailable. For example, if a tribesman would like to have some fish he would present his chickens or pig […]

You May Like