Asia's Most Stylish Lucy Torres-Gomez On Leading A Charmed Life
Joining the glamourous world of show business was never a dream 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.
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 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.”
- Photography Patrick Diokno
- Art Direction Monique Madsen
- Styling Monique Madsen
- Make-Up Patrick Rosas for Dior
- Hair Mark Rosales