Cynthia Alcantara Barker A Woman of Service

Saturday December 1, 2018

A typical Filipina, petite, beautiful and with skin to be envied by those paying fortunes to go on holiday to get her tan. That is how I can describe the outward feature of Hon. Cynthia Alcantara Barker. She grew up in the “City of 7 Lakes”, with great views of green mountains, home of diverse sweet-smelling flowers, various bodies of water and exotic fruit like “lanzones”. The place is called San Pablo City in the province of Laguna in the Philippines.

One of five siblings her mother left the Philippines to work as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in United Kingdom in the ‘70s while they were still very young, the youngest being only 3 years old. Her mother who worked hard and away from her children to send them to good schools and provide for their needs was combating her own loneliness, but she opened the door of United Kingdom for her children. Nearly four decades later Cynthia opened the door of British politics for next generations Filipinos who aspire to contribute in shaping the values of the United Kingdom in the political spectrum that embraces diversity. She is the first Filipina to serve in British local government as Town Councillor of Elstree and Borehamwood, simultaneous with being Borough Councillor of Hertsmere.

Hollywood of England – Elstree and Borehamwood Elstree and Borehamwood are the centre of filmmaking having the largest film production facility outside of Hollywood. Many film productions such as The Dambusters, Where Eagles Dare, 2001: Space Odyssey, Star Wars, The King’s Speech, and The Queen. In television, EastEnders, Big Brothers and Strictly Come Dancing were filmed in the studios there. This is the hometown of Cynthia Barker in United Kingdom. Let us follow her journey as she joined me in my Kingdom Adventures.

Cynthia never dreamed of being a politician, she worked in British Council looking after the scholars, worked in a mobile company then put up her own businesses in recruitment, healthcare care training & immigration law practice. Shas a daughter and two lovely grandchildren who inspire her to contribute to make life in Great Britain even better for others. She started volunteering in the community after she retired from work. As part of her development to become a better person,and aside from family and other organizations she involved herself with, she gave credit to Rotary Club International for her accomplishments, she is currently the President. The Club made her grounded to the fact that there are countless people who are in dire need. The Club promotes fellowship and friendship and become creative in dealing with people. Their motto is: ” Service above self ”.

Filipino Values in British Politics

Cynthia believes that though most Filipinos especially those in the Philippines have economic and financial needs yet are considered very rich and blessed. Filipinos know what love is in the real sense of the word. At the very young age Filipinos are taught to love God, love our family, help and give to those who are in need, respect the elders and other people whoever they are and whatever they do in life. Those traits Filipinos bring to whatever place they are sent in different parts of the world.

Then the door of British politics opened for her. Since she was involved in different community activities even during elections such as canvassing or encouraging people to vote not necessarily endorsing any political party. In 2014, she was encouraged to join the Conservative Party. She did secretarial work such as taking the minutes of the meetings, and campaigning to name a few activities. Then in the 2015 General Elections she was persuaded to run for the position of Councillor. She did not possess any political experience, but the party was looking for someone fresh or non-politician, a woman from a diverse background who knows the community in and out. Things happened at the right time and place without her pursuing it. She is now holding the position of Town Councillor and Borough Councillor at the same time. Let me quote her in these two important questions that I asked:

GPD – What Filipino values would you like to impart to the Conservative Party which you think will make a difference in this country and eventually can influence the world?

CAB – Be authentic and be who you really are. Always take with you the values taught to us as a child such as “Bayanihan” culture or helping one another, faith in God, love of family and respecting the elders.

GPD – Being one of “100 Most Influential Filipina in the World” who is the one who gave you the inspiration to be who you are today?

CAB – It is no other than my mother. She has always been my hero. There is never a day that I don’t think of her. In fact, I have her photos in my kitchen (women’s favourite part of the house). My foundation all comes from her. She worked hard to give us education and everything we needed until we can manage to live on our own. She inspired me in everything that I did. She passed away in January 1997. That made me work even harder to cope with my loneliness.

We thanked Ms. Cynthia Barker for sharing her story with us. As I looked at her life it can be summarized into three biblical principles: Love God, love your neighbour, and, honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. n

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