Proudly Kagayanon: Marissa Rodriguez Acapulco (Mykarelli’s Grill)

A chef, businesswoman, traveler, sports enthusiast, full time mother and wife are the words that best describes Marissa Rodriguez Acapulco… the woman behind Mykarelli’s Grill.

Born on November 20, 1973 in Rosario, Agusan del Sur, Marissa or fondly called by her friends as Mags is the youngest child of Emiliano Estrella Rodriguez and Digna Ocite. Her father was a former mayor while her mom was a businesswoman. Because her parents were too busy, she spent most of her childhood years with her Lola Yaya.

Growing up in a small town, Mags only had a few friends to socialize with. Even until today, she’s a reserved type of woman. Apart from her husband, she would only share her problems to her Lola Yaya and to her sister, the second youngest in the family.


Mags spent her elementary years at Rosario Central School. Then she went to Urios College now known as Father Saturnino Urios University in Butuan City for high school. In 1994, she finished B.S. Biology at Xavier University.


Mags met her husband Leoncio Tan Acapulco during their college years. They were lovers for eight years before they finally decided to get married in 1997. “I consider my husband as my pinaka best best friend gyud nako kay since nag uyab mi, kami nalang gyud permi ga uban. Among nawong ga baylo na. We’ve been married for 16 years. Basically half sa akong life, akong husband akong kuyog.” That is how Mags describes her husband. They are blessed with two daughters Julia Myka and Jiana Marelli.


“No permanent address.” That was Mags life before. She was born and raised in Agusan del Sur then stayed in Butuan for high school. In 1989, she transferred here in Cagayan de Oro for college. After she got married, she resided in Davao City to manage a family business. She found it difficult that she was in Davao while her husband was here in Cagayan de Oro who is also managing his own business. In 2004, she decided to finally settle here. Among all the places that she has been, CDO is closest to her heart. It’s in this city that she has gained lots of memories, both good and bad. She finds comfort in the City of Golden Friendship.


It runs in the blood. Mags’ parents were into business so it is not surprising that she became a business minded person too. She was into garments and jewelry before engaging into a restaurant business. Of course, it was not a smooth ride. She even got swindled. She became who and what she is right now through lengthy, trial and error process.


Cooking is her calling. She learned to make salads when she was still six years old. This passion is something that she acquired from her Lola Yaya. Ever since, Mags has been the queen of their kitchen. Before having a restaurant, she accepted orders from her friends. That made her financially independent, somehow. Because her recipes were well appreciated, this gave birth to a big time business venture….


It was in year 2010 when Mags finally decided to come up with her own restaurant. Initially, she just wanted to have the “turo-turo” type. She thought that the investment would not take much because the materials used are primarily ‘nipa’ and ‘amakan’ but surprisingly it still took her millions of pesos. So, she decided to formally make it a Filipino restaurant with its own set of menu. Thus, Mykarelli’s Grill  was born. Located at JR Borja Extension, Mykarelli’s is a combination of her daughters’ names Juliana Myka and Jiana Marelli.  The recall may be a bit difficult for some but people remember the restaurant not by its name but with the delicious and affordable foods that they serve. Because it is a hit, it has branched out in Divisoria in less than three years, specifically located at UKC Building, Hayes Street. I am one of their avid customers and my personal favorite is the “Baby Come Back.” That’s their own version of Baby Back Ribs and for 199 pesos only, it tastes like heaven. My other favorites are their Hungarian Beef, chicken and pork barbecue, kinilaw, and bulalo! And they are served with unlimited rice. Sinful, isn’t it? At Mykarelli’s, you get the best of both worlds, delicious and affordable!


Being in a restaurant business, it is important for Mags to know more about culinary and restaurant operation. She was scouting for good culinary schools, even reached as far as Cebu but had chosen Culinary Institute of Cagayan de Oro (CIC). Why CIC? Aside from their top caliber chef instructors, it is the only culinary school in Mindanao that offers Culinary Arts with Holistic Nutrition. Holistic nutrition means serving foods that contain balanced ratios of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients with emphasis on choosing ingredients that are fresh, chemical free, and no additives. This laudable approach is something that Mags has applied to her own restaurant. That is why each customer at Mykarelli’s is assured of foods that are all natural, nutritious, and no artificial seasoning. Everything is organic. “I don’t use vetsin at Mykarelli’s. “One way to detect if a food has lots of vetsin, uhaw kaayo after kaon. Lami kaayo iinom ug daghang tubig,” said Mags. At CIC, Mags had also learned more about proper food storage, restaurant operation, menu planning, and costing.


Tsadagyud asked Mags 10 questions that would reveal her personal views, opinions, and choices. These questions may or may not be related to her being chef and businesswoman.

Tsadagyud: What is your favourite international cuisine?

Mags: Chinese foods.

Tsadagyud: What’s the best thing about being a chef?

Mags: You get to make your own dish. Cooking is all about experimenting. Hangtod makuha nimo ang certain taste na gusto nimo. Like my baby back and barbecue, dili na sila overnight lang na nakuha nako ang taste. Kasukaon na kaayo akong anak, kasukaon na kaayo akong bana. Huh? Food tasting na pod? Sumo. Aha na man mi? Manimaho na mi ug iti ani. Maluoy nalang gud ko nila. In fact, kining naa sa menu, household ni namo na sud-an. Until now, bahalag adlaw-adlaw ganahan akong mga anak ug baby back and akong bana ganahan siya ug Hungarian Beef.

Tsadagyud: What’s the worst thing about being a chef?

Mags: Mga lamas. Di ko ganahan mag kapot ug lamas kay mopilit ang baho. Dili ko gusto mohiwa ug lamas.

Tsadagyud: Do you still take your family to other restaurants?

Mags: Ay oo, kung nay bago na mga restaurants, kami gyud na ang isa sa pinakauna moadto. Ang Steve’s, gakaon gihapon mi dinha kay kaila man namo si manang, close mana namo. College days pa, gakaon na mi sa ilaha. Kadtong ga trapal pa lang sila. Ga eat out gyud mi every Sunday with kids.

Tsadagyud: What is your favorite food?

Mags: Adobo. Pork, kanang humba. Kanang humba na bisaya pagka luto. Sa akong Lola ra man ko nakatilaw jud ug in-ana. Kanang halos wala na siyay fats.

Tsadagyud: What is that thing that you cannot live without?

Mags: Cellphone! Dili pwede. Even mag CR, halos dili mabuwian ang cellphone. Cellphone and WiFi, dili pwede na wala kay murag mabuang ko. Kung wala koy signal feeling nako dili na ko connected sa world. Lain gyud kaayo.

Tsadagyud: What is the most expensive thing that you bought for yourself?

Mags: Bag, bag diay tuod. Ma guilty ko ana. Murag makapalit na ko ug balay sa akong mga bags.

Tsadagyud: What is your favourite past time?

Mags: I see to it naga workout ko. And I’m into sports, badminton. Good thing that my husband is into sports pod. We even go out of the country to run. Eat out and sports.

Tsadagyud: If you’re not a chef right now, what are you?

Mags: Into business gihapon. Siguro I’m into the likes of Mags Clothing. Mao man gyud na akong pinaka first, first, first love nako. Garments, bisan karon na man, ga buy and sell man gihapon ko.

Tsadagyud: How do you like to be remembered?

Mags: Just like Mykarelli’s, ang makapa happy nako, they remembered Mykarelli’s not by the name but they remember sa food mismo. If the customers like what we are serving, para sa ako, fulfilment na. I want to be remembered na nag excel ko ani na field. Daan na man ko ani and this is what I love doing. Daghan na man ko na venture na business, I am also into selling bags pero this one mas makita nako ang fulfilment. Naay mga tao na manganhi, wa na ko kaila pero they patronize us na gabalik-balik as regular customers. The foods that I have here are products of my experiment.

Mags is an epitome of a modern woman. Although she is a full time mom and wife, that does not stop her from fulfilling her own dreams in life. She has pushed through in her passion in cooking and she is reaping the success of her own restaurant; independent, financially stable, strong, cheerful, and driven.

Marissa Rodriguez Acapulco… a full time mother… loving wife… certified chef… successful businesswoman… PROUDLY KAGAYANON!