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Mayoralty of Hertsmere UK: A new milestone for Cynthia Barker

 


  

Let me be personal about this piece.

 

This is about Cynthia Bartolome Alcantara Barker, a native of San Pablo City in Laguna Province who was recently elected as Mayor of Hertsmere, a big district in Hertfordshire, a county in England.

Cynthia revisits her hometown San Pablo City, the city of 7 lakes.

Cynthia, who was an engineering graduate from college had initially worked as a production supervisor in an undergarment for export factory before she went to London in 1983 upon the petition of her mom, Nelia Bartolome Alcantara, an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in the United Kingdom. In her migration, Cynthia’s personal and professional lives were fully molded by her multifaceted experiences in the diaspora.

Cynthia catches up with admin works.

In her socio-political life, Barker has been serving Elstree and Borehamwood towns as a private socio-civic individual for years and as a councilor of the borough for five years, her last year as a public servant was also marked by her being a deputy mayor of Hertsmere.

 

Latter part last week, entertainment writer and former publicist of Vicor Recording Dave Rojo rang me up and broke news which ran like this:

 “Kilala mo ba si Cynthia Barker (Are you familiar with Cynthia Barker?),” asked Dave feigningly.

Of course, Rojo knew I know Cynthia but he was just pulling my leg.

I just chuckled as he went ahead.

Cynthia with the Rt. Hon. Brandon Lewis CBE MP, Chairman of the Conservative Party 2018-19 and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

May ka-Facebook kasi ako from abroad na mga kababayan ko at sinabi na Mayor na si Cynthia Barker sa isang district sa UK ay Filipina. Proud sila (I have a Facebook friend from a group of province mates who are abroad and they told me Cynthia Barker who is a Filipina was elected Mayor of a district in UK. They are proud of her),” gushed Dave.

 Alam na kaya ni Jowee Morel (a Fil-Briton filmmaker) ‘yan? (Does Jowee Morel know about it already?),” he wondered.

 “I told my friends I know someone here in the Philippines who is close to Cynthia Barker,” echoed Rojo what he said to his social media buddies.

In a few while after my talk with Dave, a news feed was beamed to my FB wall.    

It was Cynthia’s elder brother, Gene Alcantara who posted and shared in my Facebook space the news that Cynthia has been sworn in as Mayor of Hertsmere on June 24, 2020 on a virtual ceremony.

Azenith Briones & Cynthia Barker both hail from San Pablo City

Cynthia caught up with High School friends - Louella, Maridon, Dr. JD & Helen Yuson.

Just like the good old high school days, Cynthia becomes a happy teenager again when with High School friends Louella, Maridon, Dr. JD & Helen Yuson.

The story was written by a journalist Nathan Louis for the Harrow Times, its texts and photos of Cynthia copied by Gene for online generation.

The full story:

“FIRST BRITISH-FILIPINA ELECTED MAYOR OF HERTSMERE

“Conservative Councillor Cynthia Barker was elected and sworn in as the new Mayor of Hertsmere in a virtual ceremony on 24 June. She is the first ever British-Filipina to hold the position last year as Deputy Mayor, and now as Mayor of Hertsmere.

 “In her acceptance speech as Mayor she said, ‘Whilst the lockdown has not allowed friends and family to join me in person on this wonderful occasion, I know they are watching online–and I thank them for being present from afar.’

 “Mayor Cllr Barker was also quoted as saying, ‘While it is disappointing that we weren't able to mark the moment in the usual way, I am still so proud and honoured to take on this role.

 “’I'm fully aware of the importance of the role of mayor at this time of uncertainty, fear and sadness for so many.

“’The Mayor serves as a figurehead for the whole of the Hertsmere community and can really help to bring people together.’"

 

 while at a conference, Cynthia finds a quiet corner to attend a tv interview in Manila

“Cynthia Barker was born in San Pablo City, and completed a BSc degree in Industrial Engineering at Adamson University before migrating to the United Kingdom.

 “She was a company director and became active in civic organisations such as the Rotary Club and then became active in local politics. She has been awarded the British Community Honours Award and is also one of the Filipina Women's Network's 100 Most Influential Women.

 “Knowing how proud she is of her Philippine roots, outgoing Mayor Rabbi Cllr Alan Plancey mentioned how proud Hertsmere Borough Council was to have a Philippine mayor in 2020-2021 municipal year.”

I immediately responded to the cyber message of Gene and congratulated his sister for her latest achievement.

Soon enough, I started writing about the incident for local consumption.

Later, I sent Jowee an email message congratulating him on his continued support with Cynthia all these years in the UK. I told him Barker’s political achievement is a collective pride and joy.

Morel responded, “Tito Boy, you are part of that journey.” He said he missed Cynthia’s calls because of his busyness. But he would call anytime.

 

Mayor Cynthia Barker

Yes, I am also happy and proud about Cynthia’s new challenge in her political career.

As a matter of fact, I was excited and teary-eyed when I read the news. Even Philippine Star Entertainment Editor Ricky Lo was engaged in informing me that Cynthia’s story was a front page material of their broadsheet and he would send me a shot of the physical paper to my Viber or FB Messenger which he did.

campaigning in 2019

Every now and then, I would write about Barker’s latest events in the UK to inform her compatriots in the Philippines what she was doing in her pursuit of bringing Philippine culture, tradition and colorful landscape geopolitically.

During the time that Cynthia was here in the early part of 2019, she was still the simple rural lass who would entertain friends, old and new, to a rented hotel in San Pablo City.

At the time, she was still the councilor of twin towns Elstree and Borehamwood, both high-end towns of the borough because of their world-class filmmaking and television hubs.

As she assumed the mayoral seat of Hertsmere, she was and is still part of the council overseeing Elstree and Borehamwood Film Studios, the film factory of such blockbusters such as “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter,” “Indiana Jones” franchises etc. and TV hits such as “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” “Big Brother” etc. It’s because Hertsmere Borough Council owns Elstree Studios.

Governing a larger territory is indeed a milestone for the British-Filipina.

Good luck!

 

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