What's Up


1st Pinay Deputy Mayor in UK Cynthia Barker is Woman of the Year in London

When it rains, it indeed pours on Cynthia Alcantara-Barker, the first-ever Filipina Deputy Mayor in the United Kingdom.

Just three months ago, when the UK held it hotly contested elections, Cynthia emerged a re-elected councilor of twin boroughs, Elstree and Borehamwood.

It was a tough fight because of the sensitive issue of Brexit where Alcantara-Barker was associated with the Conservative Party, the political bloc which was supporting Great Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), a controversy which had and still has divided the British people. The matter has yet to be resolved by its leaders.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Cynthia Barker

Quite characteristically of Barker to be prudent and judicious of her stand, she remained unperturbed by the boiling dispute within the cabal of political turmoil. She has maintained her standpoint as an objective person charting the direction of her country and her townspeople. According to controversial Fil-Briton filmmaker Jowee Morel (“Moma,” “Ec2luv,” “Mga Paru-Parong Rosas,” “Mona Singapore Escort,” “When a Gay Man Loves,” “Latak,” “HiStory,” “Strictly Confidential,” “Leona Calderon,” “The Making of Quezon City” etc., it was Cynthia persona that has endeared her to the British people including the ethnic minorities in the mainstream society.

Melody Garcia from the USA interviews Deputy Mayor Cllr. Cynthia Barker 

“Kahit na identified pa siya sa (Even if she is identified with the) Conservative Party, the people didn’t take it against Cynthia. It was her performance as a leader that counted and not her bias to any issue. Nakikita nila kay Cynthia ang  (They see in her the) true spirit of a leader. ‘Yan sa palagay ko ang nakapagpanalo sa kanya ulit (I think that was the thing that made her win her reelection bid),” observed Jowee who has been going back and forth UK for the longest time after many years of living there.

The UK election campaign wasn’t only grueling, it was also an acid test for Cynthia when she was face-to-face with her constituents especially her explanation about the Brexit issue but she prevailed in the end.

Melody Garcia from the USA interviews Deputy Mayor Cllr. Cynthia Barker 

After Barker won again the twin posts in Elstree and Borehamwood, she was nominated as Deputy Mayor of Hertsmere, one of the largest government units in Hertfordshire. After intense meetings and deliberations among local leaders, Cynthia was unanimously voted as the new Deputy Mayor of Hertsmere.

“It was really a challenging and a humbling experience for me to be able to convince my people in my communities to have faith in me about my leadership in relation to national issues,” said Barker.

Melody Garcia from the USA interviews Deputy Mayor Cllr. Cynthia Barker 

Now that Cynthia has many hats worn she is as consistent and pliable as a council member who is serving her utmost integrity and compassion for her people. Being a councilor and a Deputy Mayor are two different posts she has to manage well despite her hectic business schedule and her personal life as well.

“Kinakaya ko nang taimtim at ang mga tao ang lagi kong nasa isip (I perform my duties sincerely and I always think for the betterment of the people),” she quipped.

Photo by Side Projects, Deputy Mayor Councillor Cynthia Barker holding her "Woman of the Year" award

Right in the eye of the public service, Barker was recently chosen as Woman of the Year by the enterprising and dependable group, the Side Projects Music Awards.

The award, according to a note in its Facebook page, gives recognition to the creative musical talents of the local Filipino bands and artists in the UK, who tirelessly pass joy to their communities.

Photo by Side Projects

Although, the award was a music award, the achievements of the Filipino musicians in the diaspora were without significant it there wasn’t people outside the local music industry in the UK who give them support and recognition by being good models and exemplary leaders among their compatriots. Among the recipients of the Side Projects Music Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award is one of the Original Pilipino Music (OPM) legends Gary Perez of Anak Bayan/Sampaguita (composer of “Laguna,” “Tao” and “Bonggahan” and the pop group The Boyfriends.

With Gary Ariola and Bob Guzman of The Boyfriends - presented their Hall of Fame award last September 2017 in London

When The Boyfriends as a group was given the award a couple of years ago, Cynthia was already an ardent supporter of the award-giving body’s vision to propagate Filipino music even abroad. The Boyfriends had a field day taking photos with Barker who admitted to be a fan of the popular singing group which made famous the songs “Sumayaw, Sumunod,” “Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal,” “Dahil Mahal Kita” among others.

“My youth was spent listening to The Boyfriends’ tunes. They were refreshing and coming to the UK made me long for those types of songs which lighten up the mood of a person,” Barker noted.

Bestowing Cynthia Barker the Woman of the Year Award has bolstered the spirit of the Filipino musical artists in the UK because they look up to her as a prime example of a leader, a woman at that, who belongs to the ethnic minority but was able to rise above the marginalized lot and proved her worth as a human person of universal character and worldview attitude.

“I am honored by the award they gave me. Rest assured that I would be behind the cause of the Filipino musicians in the UK because I believe in their talents and world-class quality,” said Barker on her award.

Photo by Side Projects

Even if she was busy with her public service, she was able to attend the awards night. “Side Projects Music Awards are also a public service. Music serves to inspire people,” qualified Barker. “The public listens and dances to music because it is a way of life,” she added.

“Music makes the world go round,” said Cynthia.

Photo by Side Projects

Side Projects Music Awards’ Man of the Year went to Gene Alcantara, a community leader as well in London. It was his sister who accepted the trophy of his behalf. Gene was thankful for his little sis which he posted on his Facebook account for receiving the recognition for him.

Cynthia until this very moment cherishes the plum the Filipino musicians in the UK painstakingly gave her. She even had a simple photo-op with the trophies.

Filipino music Cynthia is bent on promoting not only in the UK but the whole of Europe as well.

Share this article