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When nothing is impossible: Richard and Lucy’s love story through Caren’s eyes

richard-lucy425THE LOVE story between the country’s leading actor of his time and a girl eight years his junior and a probinsiyana at that has been told many times, in many ways over and over again. 

It has enthralled the nation and their whirlwind courtship was the buzz for months. It was the “Wedding of the Year” for 1998.

We retell their story once more, taking a fresh angle this time from Lucy’s only sister, Caren Torres-Rama, who kept us laughing while she retold it to a company of teachers from the School of the Deaf and me.

Lucy listened in with half-an-ear to Caren’s story and would pipe in once in a while while keeping her eyes glued to the TV watching “Walang Hanggan” which was running then. She just loves seeing Richard and Dawn together onscreen.

The great crush

Lucy’s very open about having a crush on Richard Gomez since she was 12.

She immediately spotted her soul mate on his first movie, Inday Bote, and got attracted to the lanky, dark handsome young actor who was just a bit actor then.

Richard would soon rise to stardom. His avid admirer in one small corner of Ormoc City continued to follow his career.

Caren recalls Lucy “fell madly in love” with Richard at the movie “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit”. Lucy just loved seeing Richard and Dawn together.

While Lucy would unabashedly announce she would marry THE Richard Gomez someday, Lucy says she never, ever entertained the thought that she would one day REALLY get married to him.

Caren said that Lucy’s crush on Richard was a big joke in the family. They would rib her about it, but she was fixated. Just drop Richard’s name and she would be in seventh heaven.

Then, it was time to leave Ormoc. Caren and Lucy went off to college in Cebu where Lucy’s beauty would catch the fancy of many headhunters for modeling agencies. As expected, patriarch Manoling would turn down all their offers of a lucrative modeling career for Lucy.

It was not only that they did not need Lucy to work but the thought of her joining a very “public” career was an anathema to the family who is known to be very private.

Until one day, when a modeling agent who happened to be a friend of the family, managed to convince Manoling.

Fed up with saying “no” to one headhunter to another, Scholastica Parpan got Manoling’s nod. Parpan saw Lucy on a magazine coverage of her debut and she was determined to have her for a Lux commercial in the offing.

Manoling, however, had one condition – that there would be absolutely be no kissing scene in the commercial.

So, Lucy’s career in commercial modeling was launched in 1993. Caren said their first location of the shoot was Lake Caliraya in Laguna. They had no idea who’d be Lucy’s male counterpart until about a week before the shoot date, when Lucy lets out a shriek while taking a call from the agent.

Caren recalls Lucy squealing in excitement. She was told the male model would be Richard. Lucy was beside herself, telling the agent if she had only told her it was Richard, then she herself would have convinced Manoling to permit her to do the ad “for free”.  The chance to see the man of her dreams in person was irresistible.

Caren recalls there were many times when they’d want to see Richard on some of his Cebu shows but circumstances would not permit it. There was one time, she said, that Lucy was all set to go to Cebu to watch a concert of Sharon with Richard as guest. But because of bad weather, the show was cancelled. “Wa gyod si Lucy nakakita ni Richard”, Caren laughs.

Since she was in Cebu already a year before Lucy followed, Caren said her “pasalubong” for were Bench things. Richard was Bench’s signature model then.

Richard and Lucy’s first picture together at the set of the first Lux commercial they did. Caren took this shot on April 27, 1993. Five years and one day later, the hunk and the probinsiyana were wed.

Richard and Lucy’s first picture together at the set of the first Lux commercial they did. Caren took this shot on April 27, 1993. Five years and one day later, the hunk and the probinsiyana were wed.

At the commercial shoot

Caren, being the elder sister, was Lucy’s chaperon in all her tapings. The young woman with the long black hair would fascinate TV viewers that the Lux commercial ran for five years.

Caren rues that during that first shoot, they discover that taping is not an easy job. For such a short segment, they taped the first year episode for five days.

“Sus, kun kasabot pa si Daddy nga mao diay na ang taping sa commercial, di gyod to musugot.  Kamubo nga advertisement, ka dugay nga taping. Kapila gyod pabalik-balika si Lucy pagkaligo aron mabasa iya buhok. Unya inig labyog nga di kauyon ang director, balik na sad. Magkurog na gud si Lucy sa katugnaw”, she said.

Obviously, that was the time before Photoshop’s advent, when hair models had to have really good, luxurious hair.

All throughout the arduous taping, Caren said, Lucy put up with it. The chance to see Richard Gomez in person was the sugarcoating. Richard would come on the last day.

On the day Richard arrived, Caren remembers the production assistants cautioning them not to fawn over Richard.

“Mga taga probinsiya baya mo, tingale kuyapan mo ha! Ayaw mo paklaro nga gikilig mo!”, the production assistants scolded them.

To their surprise, the production assistants were the ones to fawn over Richard and started shrieking like banshees. “Ay, mao diay gibadlong mi nga daan kay sila diay gusto maggakos-gakos ni Richard”, Caren laughs.

Richard, on the other hand, comes up to meet with his “leading lady”. He was into photography then and took pictures of Lucy and Caren. Caren said that with her instamatic camera, she took a picture of Richard and Lucy, which Lucy would cherish like a lucky talisman.

Lucy, meanwhile, said she was trembling from the tip of her hair to the tip of her toes when Richard’s arrival was announced. They peeped through the door and Caren recalls pinching her. “Dol” (the sisters’ term of endearment for each other) “ayaw gyod pagpakauwaw kay manguli gyod ta dayon”, Caren admonished Lucy. Lucy laughed at the memory, saying she was black and blue from all of Caren’s pinches.

True to their upbringing, when it was time for them to be introduced to the actor, Caren and Lucy were “cool”.

Richard, when asked about his first impression of Lucy, said, “I found her maganda and mukhang mabait, pero bata pa”. And unromantically, he slept on the set. On a distance, Lucy feasted her eyes on Richard. It was a dream come true for her.

After the taping, Richard brings the sisters to McDonald’s and buys them a sundae each.

Up to this day, Lucy keeps the McDonald’s plastic teaspoon as her keepsake of what she jokingly considers their “first date”. Lucy chimes in at this point saying, “bahala na ug dili to date, basta para nako, mao to amo first date”.

Caren also recalls that Richard, eager to put Lucy at ease, personally served her dinner. “Lucy practically ate everything on her plate without chewing. She doesn’t like vegetables, but she swallowed everything he put on her plate without complaint”, Caren laughs.

Richard and Lucy would see each other for a one day a year, in the next four years. Caren said that about a week before their tapings, Richard would call up Lucy to greet her. Richard said it was his way to make her feel comfortable when they met.

Richard would also ask Lucy to give him a call when she was in Manila, but she never did.

During the 2nd, 3rd and 4th year, Caren said Richard’s calls were short. Just hi and hello, she said, and small chitchat.

Until the fifth year. Lucy was then 23, the very age when a woman starts to bloom. Obviously, it was also then that Richard REALLY noticed Lucy.

Caren recalls that the final scene of the commercial was Richard embracing Lucy from the back, gently smelling her hair, and putting on a necklace on her. After a perfect shot, she noticed Richard still keeping Lucy close to him even if the director had shouted “cut” already. It was also a shot where a “hand double” could have taken over but Richard preferred to stay instead of leaving immediately.

Caren said, “Even if I wanted to separate them, Lucy was obviously relishing the moment. She was alternately flashing me pleading and dagger looks not to spoil ‘the moment’.”

So, with the understanding that only two close siblings could have, she let it be. That was when Richard and Lucy’s relationship moved up to another level.

When Lucy returned home to Ormoc, she would get daily calls from Richard. Caren said they got Lucy her own private line because she was monopolizing the phone. “We couldn’t use it anymore”, she recalls, “they were making telebabad like crazy”.

Caren admits they were half-amused and half-worried about the phone calls and where it would end. They wondered if Lucy was in for a heartbreak.

On the other end, Richard was beginning to realize that he had fallen badly for the “maganda, mukhang mabait” probinsyanang Lucy.

Even while at the World Championship for Fencing in Germany, Caren said Richard kept calling Lucy. Richard, on the other end, would run to the nearest public telephone booth to call her and would only stop when he ran out of coins.

When he came back from Germany, he immediately flew to Leyte to see the Ormocana who captured his heart.

Hurdling the Torreses

When he arrived in Ormoc, Caren said Manoling made Richard stay at their house instead of just a hotel here. Manoling believes that if there was one way to know a prospective son-in-law better, it was to give him the hospitality of your home to see if he can fit in.

Caren said that together with her Dad, Mom and brothers, they hatched all kinds of plan to “test” the man behind the actor. For his first meal with them, they served him las-ay and observed if he would turn his nose down at the “lowly” Visayan vegetable mix. He ate it with gusto.

Next, they served him gabi leaves in coconut milk, a local food that Tagalogs usually don’t like. It was masarap for him. They were sure he’d comment on the tinolang manok because it was not cooked sinigang style. Again, it was masarap.

Caren added that Manoling himself was impressed that Richard had no vices. He does not smoke and barely drunk alcoholic liquor. He also found out that they shared the same hobbies like golf and shooting.

They found out Richard was very down-to-earth. An early riser, they caught him playing basketball with their drivers at the solitary hoop near their garage the next morning.

Much as they would have liked to give Richard failing marks, it was impossible not to like him.

That was in October of 1997. Richard’s next visit was three months later. He was with actor Anjo Yllana when he came here on December 1997. At their balcony at their family home at Carlota Hills, Richard proposed to Lucy.

The rest of the family had retired to their rooms, Caren said, including herself.

So, when Lucy came in to show her the engagement ring and broke the news she had accepted Richard’s proposal, she recalls being shocked. Caren said she immediately went out of the room and told Richard, “I will personally break your neck if you hurt my sister!”

Richard left early morning the next day, leaving Lucy to break the news of their engagement to the rest of the family. After that, everything was a flurry of fittings, sending out invitations and preparing for the wedding.

“Ah, yes, mao gyod to’y klarong whirlwind courtship”, Caren said.

Ormoc was once more catapulted to national attention, this time in a good light, as “that little city” where a probinsiyana named Lucy lives, capturing the heart of the country’s top actor.

Richard and Lucy were then wed at the St. Peter and Paul Parish Church here on April 28, 1998, with thousands coming in from various places to catch a glimpse of the lady and her celebrity husband.

Caren said that shortly before their marriage, Richard was given a tour of the Torres home at Bonifacio where they grew up. It was then that Richard realized how long his young fiancé nurtured her love for him.

She had his pictures all over the walls, tons of scrapbooks of articles about him and a corkboard full of his pictures, even that of his dog who’ve since gone to dog heaven!

Looking back, Caren said they are happy that Lucy did not only marry the man of her dreams but he turned out to be a good husband to her and father to Juliana, a good son to Manoling and Julie, and a caring brother-in-law to them.

That was 15 years ago. Meanwhile, Richard and Lucy’s saga continues. By Lalaine M. Jimenea

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