April Rama and Lor Torres: Two Mom’s a Party

Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Longtime partners April Rama and Chef Lor Torres talk about the dynamics of an all-female household and raising April’s daughter Gaby together.

On warm Cebu nights back when the concepts of quarantine curfews and lockdowns were far from reality, the figurative signage for Isidra Comfort Cantina would flip closed at 9:00 p.m. — except it rarely ever was closed, at least for a few hours more.

Outside, one of the tables is guaranteed to be occupied past operating hours, usually with proprietor (“tig”, she would insist) April Rama holding court with a bottle of beer while her longtime partner Chef Lor Torres and daughter Gaby finished up inside. Lor would eventually join April to unwind after a long day of cooking, while Gaby — then a college student — would linger for a bit before heading home ahead.

For a regular customer such as I was, the sight was always a comfort to see. Their dynamics and company made every visit feel like being in their home, hanging out with a kid and her parents — both of which happened to be women.

In a society that would have fixated upon that fact, their easygoing camaraderie never made it A Big Deal. Still, it’s unusual enough to be a story worth telling.

“They met each other when Gaby was 9, turning 10 years old. Gaby was waitressing for a summer activity. She was about to take a break and ordered humba rice. Lor did the same,” April recalled. “Gaby’s humba rice arrived first. The poor kid just watched, hungry and confused, as Lor devoured her food. They ended up as fast friends bonding over humba rice and the mix-up.”

While April has always been candid to her daughter about her life, she also made it a point to keep Gaby out of her rollercoaster dating life. “She had been through so much already,” April acknowledged. “So when Lor and I [started dating], we decided to take it easy. It took three years for us to move in together as a family unit.”

Being Gaby’s biological mother tipped the scales and determined a bigger responsibility on April. “As the woman who birthed her — and I like to say, ‘Lamaze-style, kid. I felt every single rip and tear’ — I am ferociously protective,” she said. “I take on the roles of mother and father, caregiver, provider, disciplinarian.”

Lor’s initial adjustment of being a friend and a ‘parent’ was made easier with how April handled things. “April was very strict about my role and hers,” she explained. “My role was to be Gaby’s friend and emotional support for when April was too much of a disciplinarian. She turns into the Hulk when she is angry.

“I know I can never be Gaby’s mother,” she continued. “I’m her tita and friend, and I have tried to be good at that role.” 

“Lor knows about Gaby’s likes and dislikes more than I do!” April quipped.

The three of them share a close-knit relationship with a fun and interesting dynamic: That Gaby is actually the nanay. “She takes care of me!” Lor exclaimed. “I’m lucky that Gaby has always been mature and thoughtful, very adult and sober-minded. And most of the time she is our voice of reason. She’s always the one defending us to others, or vice versa.”

Anyone who’s ever spent time with April, Lor, and Gaby — those nights at Isidra or elsewhere — will be familiar with their friendly bickering and good-humored banter… well, as much as their menstrual cycles would allow. “It’s always an exciting week when we have our menstrual cycles!” both April and Lor proclaimed. “One thing about an all-female household that still floors me to this day: so much estrogen!” April elaborated. “When monthly cycles align, it could be armageddon or nirvana but definitely never boring.”

On the flipside, they can all enjoy Ladies Nights together, among other things they do both individually and together. “We love to talk, drink-and-talk, be with the dogs, and drink-talk-be with the dogs” they shared. “Staying home for quarantine made us realize we enjoy being home. We discovered we are handy dog-loving homebodies who can start big or small DIY projects, and actually complete said DIY projects.”

But it hasn’t always been easy-going, especially while Gaby was growing up. With the unconventional set-up, she had her fair share of awkward situations from her peers. 

“One time in elementary, she defended a schoolmate who was being bullied for being masculine,” April and Lor recalled. “She heard a gaggle of girls calling the girl a tomboy and she leapt in to defend her — using us—her family unit, as a shining example of how awesome lesbians are,” they continued with a laugh. “She likes to introduce us to her friends as her parents, or her moms. We think that’s her way of warding off any questions or bullying, by being upfront and honest about her family.”

April and Lor themselves also encountered some raised eyebrows and misconceptions. “People who don’t know any better think that Lor is the guy, and I’m the girly girl. Or they call Lor ‘sir’,” April said. “We just laugh. We don’t feel the need to educate them. Up to them to educate themselves.” 

While April never placed much importance in having a male co-parent, she admits that at some point, she felt bad about not being able to give Gaby a more normal family unit. “No one starts a family thinking to be a single parent, but life has its own plans and you deal with it the best way you know how.”

I have never put too much stock in co-parenting with a male partner. Male or female, you would run into the same troubles, same worries, and in the end, reap the same rewards.

April

“I have spent time feeling bad that I couldn’t give her a conventional family set-up but I have to shake myself out of it because it’s a pointless thought,” she continued.

But for Lor, who once never thought about having kids, the best thing about co-parenting one is who she’s doing it with. 

“That it is April,” she said. “If we called this a job and I was appointed a position, I have a well-defined job description.”

More Food For Thought