10 Life Hacks I Learned from My Dad

Having a life hacking chemist for a father makes life extra interesting. Sometimes, you are the recipient of a strange but effective cure. Sometimes, you are the guinea pig of something new he is testing.

On TV, I would see the likes of Rumpelstiltskin (from the TV show Once Upon a Time) mix potions and other things. I do not see that kind of colorful magic in my dad’s laboratory, but there are pointers worth noting about life that he has given me. He has a flair for the finer things of life with a surprising hint of frugality or refusal to spend too much when natural alternatives are available or presented. Of the many things that my old man shares with me, here are ten of my favorites:

10 Life Hacks I Learned from My Dad

10. Lessen the Shampoo Usage.

My dad manufactures some local brands of shampoos and conditioners, so I trust him when he says that diminishing the frequency of shampoo usage for long hair is highly recommended. He tells me that too much shampoo can cause large dandruff flakes and suggests that some sensitive types should dilute their shampoo with water before using it.


9. DIY Your Fitness Vegetable Juice.

Around 3-4 months before my wedding, I needed to find a way to whittle down my 33-inch waistline into a size that would fit into my gown. I know that there are a lot of juicing options available everywhere and they work like a charm for most people. However, my dad went the extra mile, took out a bunch of herbs, and customized something specifically for my health needs, reducing my asthma and panic attacks (bridezilla mode was on at the time). With accompanying exercise regimens, I managed whittle my waistline down from 33 to 25 inche three weeks before my big day. Even though I was under so much stress, my dad made sure that it did not look that way when I walked down the aisle.

10-life-hacks-learned-from-my-father-2-gown-small-waist-mara-dizonGown by Ms. Mara Dizon, Raw Image taken by our wedding photographer, Villamin Photography Studio

8. Reinvent Leftovers.

One of the neatest tricks my dad has is the ability not to throw anything away – literally. Today’s kare kare can be tomorrow’s lugaw. Making new things out of leftovers is an art that he has mastered for almost 6 decades now. (He began cooking at age 10.)  I am not so good at cooking, but he emphasized the fact that in this country where there are people who are not able to eat three square meals per day, it’s good to have this kind of habit.

Kare-Kare True Deli A Delicious Journey to the Pinoy Palate

7. The 10-Minute Microwave Corn Trick.

For a quick merienda, dad taught me that the best way to conserve the flavor of fresh raw corn is by simply putting it in a microwave oven under medium heat for 10 minutes. You won’t even need butter to flavor your snack after.


6. Give Generously.

No matter what the situation, dad made sure that he gave to the extent that he is able. When he gives, he really gives in the truest sense of the word. He tells me often that when I am feeling sad about something, it is best to find a way to take care of another person in one way or another. He claims that it will make the problem smaller and less bothersome. I tried it and it’s true. I find myself getting so much more than what I give most of the time.

Payatas Book Giving

5. Nurture Compounded Interest.

My dad staunchly believes in the power of compounded interest. As such, he encouraged me to take part in stock market investing and less risky versions like mutual funds and treasury bills. He always emphasizes Php 5,000 invested in the right avenue today can become a million or more decades from now. Even if I find it hard to appreciate long-term investments, I signed up for one at his recommendation and it has been going well.

 Stock Market Investing for Beginners

4. Control Rat Attacks with Pepper.

Two months ago, rats ate up the wires in the engine of dad’s car. He was infuriated, but he found a very quick solution to the problem: GROUND PEPPER. Apparently, rats hate it and stay away from it. Anyone can buy ground pepper for less than 5 pesos and it will be more than enough to safeguard your things. We tried it at our food stash by the cupboard, as well, and it works like a charm.


3. Have a Regular Go-to Place for Grocery Shopping.

My dad is a creature of habit. As such, he is a regular at many places. In the supermarket, the waitresses and waiters call him on a first name basis. The guards look happy to see him and make sure he has a good parking spot. I do not know if this is a life hack per se, but I have seen that because the staff cares for him as a person and more than just a customer, they serve him the fresher shrimps (his favorite!) and makes sure that none of his purchases are bad.  When you get old and your eyesight and sense of smell start to fail you, little things like having people watch out for you in their own ways can mean a lot.

SM Supermarket BF

2. Turn Garbage into Treasure.

My dad began his ventures by taking leftovers from businessmen in the circa 1980s. He told me that things people ignored during his time were something that he improved, cleansed, revitalized and repackaged with the right amount of resourcefulness and creativity. With all that hard work and foresight, he got lucky and achieved millions before he hit the age of thirty. Sometimes, he would make strange purchases and he will tell me that later it has potential or value. He tells me that I  do not necessarily have to take a Smokey Tour for this; sometimes the treasure can be right under my nose.

Garbage basura trash Tumalog Falls Oslob Cebu wheninmanila

1. Believe in ‘Forever’.

This is the most meaningful thing my dad has taught me, if I may even call it a life hack. My dad is 76 now and he told my husband that when a man reaches a certain age, he will be more concerned about doing a full review of how his life went, or the ‘sunset of life’, as he calls it. Here is a gem of wisdom that he imparted to me when I became a wife: “The drive to be successful and the ambition to be somebody only last for so long, but be loyal and love one another. When you become loyal to your spouse, that loyalty will love you back in your final years. That is the crucial time when each night you will think of all the things you have done right and wrong, your entire life is almost nearing its end, and you will feel the loneliness that comes with being old. Gladly, you will have that special someone beside you holding your hand as you go through all of that.”


For all the chemical eccentricities, maybe there really is some magic in dad’s words.

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