Join­ing the glam­orous world of show busi­ness was never a dream

Philippine Tatler - - FEATURES -

for Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lucy Tor­res-Gomez; nei­ther was en­ter­ing the po­lit­i­cal arena. “My dreams have al­ways been very sim­ple: to be a good wife and mother, and to build a happy home for my fam­ily,” she says with af­fec­tion. But fate seemed to have sur­prises aplenty— and none of the un­kind va­ri­ety—in store for this tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity turned pub­lic ser­vant, whose gen­teel man­ner and kind words truly am­plify her beauty.

As a young girl, she never thought to shape her fu­ture around a spe­cific plan (“I liken the cir­cum­stances of my life to the idea of jump­ing off a plane and just read­ing the man­ual on the way down!”), but pic­tured a quiet life for her­self, one away from any sort of spot­light. Then, she met and mar­ried the man of her dreams—one who was very much in the pub­lic eye—and ev­ery­thing changed.

FA­MIL­IAL TIES Daugh­ter to Manuel “Mano­ling” Tor­res Jnr and Julie Martinez, Lucy is the sec­ond of four chil­dren (she has one older sis­ter and two younger brothers). Home for her was the city of Or­moc in Leyte. “It was a sim­ple and idyl­lic kind of life,” she says. “I was liv­ing in a city, but one so un­like Manila [where you can live in the same sub­di­vi­sion for years and not know who your neigh­bours are] in the sense that no one was re­ally a stranger.” Af­ter­noons were spent in the com­pany of her sib­lings and their play­mates—though often in the con­fines of their home, for her fa­ther, she re­calls, was a pro­tec­tive fig­ure. “Had there been uni­ver­si­ties in Or­moc at the time, I prob­a­bly would have stayed put,” she adds. The schools clos­est to home were in Cebu, where she at­tended classes at the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Cebu and earned her de­gree in busi­ness man­age­ment.

It was also around that time when she would make her foray into show busi­ness. All of 18 years old and still in col­lege, she was cho­sen to star in a se­ries of com­mer­cials for Lux Sham­poo, op­po­site a lead­ing man the ad­ver­tis­ing agency sim­ply chris­tened “Boyet.” This mys­tery man turned out to be none other than Richard Gomez, a much sought-af­ter mati­nee idol (at present, the mayor of Or­moc City) and Lucy’s long­time crush, with whom she had been smit­ten since she was 12. “We would only see each other dur­ing the sched­uled shoot­ings, which was ba­si­cally once ev­ery five years,” she adds. “And if the com­mer­cial had just been a one-time deal, I doubt we would have ended up to­gether be­cause of how we’d just pop in and out of each other’s lives. But by the time we were shoot­ing the last part, he had de­cided to pur­sue me se­ri­ously.”

Ne­ti­zens swooned when she posted an old pho­to­graph he took of her—and one Richard kept se­cret un­til they mar­ried—to In­sta­gram, where she de­scribed her beloved as “tall, dark, hand­some, and per­fect.” To­gether for two decades now, their mar­riage re­mains a lov­ing and solid one, with their only daugh­ter Ju­liana com­plet­ing the cir­cle.

“How I am as a mother is a ques­tion best an­swered by my daugh­ter,” shares Lucy. “But if there is one thing I am cer­tain that Ju­liana ap­pre­ci­ates about me, it is that I have never pushed her to be some­one she’s not. I never im­pose any­thing on her. When peo­ple ask me what I dream for Ju­liana, I say that from the day she was born, I only want her to be­come what God wants her to be. I want her to be happy—to go where she will be happy.”

And be­cause they spend so much time apart nowa­days (Lucy and Ju­liana stay in Manila for the most part, while Richard is based in Or­moc), week­ends as a fam­ily are now sa­cred to them. Their love lan­guage? Food. Lucy de­scribes meal­time—whether it be feast­ing on Richard’s home cook­ing or the snacks that Ju­liana sur­prises her par­ents with—as the back­drop of many of her fam­ily’s happy mem­o­ries. “Very quintessen­tially Filipino, don’t you think?” she asks with a smile.

CALLED TO SERVE

In 2010, Richard, who was run­ning for a con­gres­sional seat to rep­re­sent the fourth district of Leyte, was dis­qual­i­fied by the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions due to a res­i­dency is­sue. Lucy, who had no such plans to take up a gov­ern­ment post, rose to the oc­ca­sion as the sub­sti­tute can­di­date. “There is no such thing as the per­fect time; there is only now,” she says of that un­ex­pected turn of events. “The mo­ment called for me to step up, and I did. And in the district that I sud­denly found my­self rep­re­sent­ing, there was so much to be done. I was in­spired to go all out and pitch in as much as I could.”

She has her pet projects, many of which in­volve in­tro­duc­ing liveli­hood pro­grammes (6200: Mis­sion Pos­si­ble Pro­ject of Leyte IV, which was launched to aid the fish­er­men), sup­port­ing re­lief ef­forts, boost­ing tourism, and adopt­ing sus­tain­abil­ity prin­ci­ples. As the head of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ Tourism Com­mit­tee, Lucy spear­headed the pro­tec­tion and restora­tion of the Banaue Rice Ter­races and rep­re­sented the coun­try in the Smart Is­land World Congress, a tourism sum­mit held in Spain, where she dis­cussed util­is­ing tourism and max­imis­ing avail­able re­sources to al­le­vi­ate poverty. An ad­vo­cate of adopt­ing sus­tain­able meth­ods, she cites the clos­ing and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Bo­ra­cay as an in­ci­dent that we must learn from.

The con­gress­woman is also work­ing to­wards en­sur­ing that the com­mu­ni­ties she sup­ports be­come self-suf­fi­cient and do not stay de­pen­dent on hand­outs. Hav­ing been at the fore­front of re­lief ef­forts in the wake of Ty­phoon Yolanda, she recog­nises and un­der­stands the needs of a district that is often rav­aged by such nat­u­ral dis­as­ters. A long-term pro­ject called the Fourth District of Leyte Tourism Mas­ter­plan, which aims to in­te­grate sus­tain­abil­ity with dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness, is cur­rently be­ing worked on. “I see the district I rep­re­sent as a di­a­mond in the rough that is sim­ply wait­ing to shine be­cause it has so much po­ten­tial,” says Lucy.

STYLE WITH SUB­STANCE

As a lit­tle girl, she was al­ready fond of dress­ing up, ea­ger to look her best even on or­di­nary days. Lucy’s mum in­dulged her whims, tak­ing her to the lo­cal seam­stress to have be­spoke clothes made. “I took my ear­li­est fash­ion cues from both my mother and grand­mother, who al­ways looked put to­gether,” Lucy shares. “Mum would al­ways dress to the nines for par­ties and for church, and I would just sit there and watch her get ready. And my lola, who was very re­li­gious, would say, ‘If you get ready for a party, what more for God?’ Dress­ing up was some­thing they al­ways did for them­selves—and not for oth­ers—be­cause it made them feel good. I am the same way.”

En­ter­ing show busi­ness gave Lucy an op­por­tu­nity to wear many beau­ti­ful things, but even then, she was al­ready def­i­nite about what she would and would not wear. “My style is very fem­i­nine,” she ex­plains. “I want to feel com­fort­able; I don’t leave home wear­ing some­thing that is trendy but is so out of tune with what I like. For me, the real value of an item is its cost di­vided by the num­ber of times you get to use it. I make it a point to in­vest in a few good pieces that I know I will en­joy over the years, and, hope­fully, ones that Ju­liana will like enough to use later.”

Many of her trea­sured gowns were de­signed by the late great Joe Salazar, in­clud­ing that which she wore to last year’s Tatler Ball. It is with great rev­er­ence that she speaks of Salazar, whom she wished she had met much ear­lier in life. “He was very

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE PER­FECT TIME; THERE IS ONLY NOW”

gen­tle of spirit and quite shy—a true master that never felt the need to self-pro­mote,” she re­calls. “I was floored when I tried on the first dress he ever made for me be­cause it fit so well! It was then that I dubbed him the one-fit won­der.” She likens the in­te­ri­ors of Salazar’s cre­ations, lined with thought­ful minute de­tails such as lace seams, to lin­gerie: some­thing the world doesn’t see, but makes you feel good be­cause you know it is spe­cial. She is also fond of Randy Or­tiz, whose work she de­scribes as “un­pre­ten­tious, stun­ning, and makes you feel lovely.” A close friend of Richard’s, Or­tiz was the de­signer be­hind Lucy’s wed­ding dress.

She is hon­oured and de­lighted to have been named Asia’s Most Stylish (shot on lo­ca­tion at the Mor­pheus Ho­tel in Ma­cau), say­ing, “It’s a fun award that cel­e­brates and reaf­firms the joys of be­ing a girl.” She en­joyed the shoot im­mensely and thought it very well-planned. She adds, “Din­ner­time and group shots were the only times I got to hang out with the other ladies; I was seated next to Dian Lee from Malaysia, who is a kind wife and mother, and the per­fect seat­mate.” Over­all, it was a won­der­ful, mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence.

Lucy is also con­cerned about how so­ci­ety is grow­ing in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive, ob­sess­ing over spon­sor­ships and fol­lower counts. “There is a sud­den need to be the best or the great­est—but in the big­ger scheme of things, what does this equate to? We don’t have to el­bow our way to the top. I think it is more im­por­tant to live by the right val­ues, to be kind, to al­ways re­mem­ber that the sun shines for ev­ery­one and that there is enough of it to go around for all of us. I’m a firm be­liever in karma; for as long as we sow the right seeds— even if peo­ple try to bring us down, things will fall into their proper place.”

“It’s a fun award that cel­e­brates and reaf­fIrms the joys of be­Ing a gIrl”

el­bow room Top and pants by Rajo Lau­rel, di­a­mond ear­rings and bracelet by Riqueza jew­ellery, and shoes by CH Carolina Her­rera

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