A Filipina star shines bright in Canada


By Boy Villasanta


It was controversial Fil-Briton filmmaker Jowee Morel  of “Moma,” “EC2Luv,” “Mga Paru-Parong Rosas,” “Mona Singapore Escort,” “Latak,” “HiStory,” “When A Gay Man Loves,” “Strictly Confidential” and “Leona Calderon) who arranged for me to talk to a compleat politician, book writer and well-awarded Filipina politician in Canada, Cynthia Barker, the very first Filipina to be elected as Borough Councilor in London, under the Conservative Party of the former British Prime Minister David Cameron.   

Morel initially briefed me about Barker through his stories about a Filipina star who made it to the political hierarchy of the British parliamentary government in the most ideal but practical way.

Morel had been in London all his life since he migrated to the United Kingdom when he was a high school student. He just went back to the country in the mid-2000 to try his luck in the local filmmaking business.

In the course of Morel’s London life, he met a lot of Filipino migrants or their sons and daughters, one of them was Barker. They made perfect match as friends until she won the Council seat while he made films in the Philippines.

Last December, Barker was in town to spend the holidays in her native land she hasn’t experienced for years. During this time, Morel met her a few times to discuss a documentary film which would tackle her ascent to the political power in London.

Because Morel found Barker a newsworthy copy, he introduced her to me through the phone.

I was lucky enough to speak to her and found out a few interesting points that would merit cyber inches although the communication signal in our midst was very erratic. I couldn’t let go of a precious moment talking to a parliamentarian from London and a Filipina at that so I made do of a poor spot I was in.

It proved a very meaningful conversation between us.

Cynthia was about to board her flight back to London that night so we just quickly ran our thoughts together.

I personally congratulated her for winning a seat at the Borough Council a couple of years ago under the Conservative Party of the former British Prime Minister David Cameron.   

       “This is not just for the English people or the Filipinos in London but this is for the Filipino people in the Philippines as well,” she exclaimed.

Being the first Filipino to win a seat in the British Parliament, I asked about her plans to promote her fellow Filipinos and the Philippines?

“At the moment I don’t have a particular cause I espouse. What I am after now is just awareness among Filipinos and other nationalities in the UK that Filipinos are also a race we are proud of,” she quipped.

Barker, whose maiden name is Cynthia Alcantara, hails from San Pablo City in Laguna, who spent the last four decades of her life in the UK when her mom was the first entrant in London.

In the beginning, she wasn’t interested in politics but her kin were involved in a lot of socio-political activities that exposed her to the real human conditions not only of her fellow Filipinos but other races as well.

Her baptism of fire in London politics was a twin win when she ran as councilor for both the Elstree and Borehamwood and Borough for Potter’s Bar Furzefield. It was an amazing and a significant feat for an Asian woman.     

  Barker, according to globalnation.inquirer.net, was previously the president of Rotary Club of Elstree and Borehamwood and other socio-civic organizations, among them the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children).

At the moment, she is a school governor at St. Nicholas School and the chair of trustees of Elstree and Borehamwood museum.

       Barker is also a book author having published “How to Come to the UK” in 2005 with her business partner, Elstree and Borehamwood Councillor Charles Kelly, who was previously the local mayor.

            Last year, Barker made another milestone in her life when she was awarded as one of the “100 Influential Filipinas in the World.” She was chosen for contributions to the uplift of the Filipinos worldwide. She was handed with “Policymaker and Visionary Award” in Toronto, Canada last October.



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Wednesday, 21 March 2018
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