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My memories of Cynthia Barker, the Worshipful Mayor of Hertsmere in UK by Boy Villasanta (Part 6)

It was December 2018 when Cynthia Alcantara-Barker last visited the Philippines. This was announced to me by controversial Fil-Briton filmmaker Jowee Morel. By the time also, Cynthia had reassured us that she wanted to be officially publicized by us.


            It was Jowee and Cynthia who first met in San Pablo City, her birthplace. Cynthia and her entourage stayed in a hotel in the outskirt of the city.


            The Fil-Brit director came all the way from Pagsanjan, Laguna where he stayed. Going to San Pablo from Pagsanjan, there are two routes to take. One is a ride—by bus or jeep—from Sta. Cruz, Laguna to the junction of Victoria going to the town proper. From the corner, there are jeepneys which ply from Sta. Cruz to San Pablo via Majayjay. The other one is a ride from Sta. Cruz to the corner of Calauan and Bae. At the junction, there are jeeps straight to San Pablo via Calauan.


            Jowee would take the first one-way trip to San Pablo and presto one is already in the heart of the city. One only has to take a tryke or tricycle to the place where Cynthia was.


            It was also the time when Morel could again take footage of Cynthia for his documentary film project for that time was still a councilor of twin boroughs Elstree and Borehamwood in Hertsmere district in the county of Hertfordshire. This was a continuous shoot of various visuals of activities Cynthia was involved.


            Whenever Jowee was in London or in Hertsmere, he would readily click the shutter of his video cam and shoot Cynthia.


            But this time, it was a visit of the UK councilor to her roots and it could never be missed. The director was always on his toes. Bringing his Cannon high definition camera, tripod, disks and voice recorder, Jowee was every ready to capture significant moments of Cynthia’s very movement in San Pablo.


            Prior to my appearance in a day or two in San Pablo City to finally meet Cynthia, the documentarist had already rolls of footage on her. There were already interviews done on cam not necessarily on Barker but on the people she was related to in her birthplace. Her cousins and friends, playmates, classmates, acquaintances etc. were gathered all in one place for the interviews. Jowee’s camera was always on the roll.


            There was also a heart-to-heart talk between Morel and Barker about how the doc would run. Cynthia would say her piece, her vision of the film while Jowee would give his ten-cent worth of ideas to make the project more palatable to the audience.


            Imagine, showing the doc to the politicians in the UK where their fellow public servant would pivot her role as a councilor from a Third World country.


            The film would definitely land on the desk of the Hertsmere council where the residents and the councilmen would feast on the rich and colorful life of their colleague. Therefore, Jowee would see to it that his visuals would be professionally presented.


            What more if the doc would be viewed by the Members of the British Parliament precisely because it would be the life and times of their fellow politician? It would be an exciting experience not only for Cynthia but for Jowee as the filmmaker as well. Of course, the other contents of the video would be proud to be included in the visual project.


            Although Cynthia had to attend to her other guests and well-wishers in her hometown, she didn’t look away from Jowee. The latter, of course, could be on his own given his independence as long as he felt the honesty and worthiness of his presence in the event.


            The following day, I was told by Jowee, would be a momentous day for Cynthia as she would receive a once in a lifetime award from one of her alma maters, the Laguna Colleges. I wasn’t informed, though, of the particular award and who would give it to Cynthia but just the same, I readied myself about the coverage.


            It was also my first time to see Barker in flesh and blood. It was kind of excited and edgy as well.


            A very powerful woman from the UK would face up with me and what would I react? How would I receive the moment?


            Many things ran in my mind and Jowee was the only one to neutralize any misconception let alone misreading of the occasion and the people who would be involved in it.


            I just let things ran its natural course.


            Every now and then, the British-Filipino filmmaker would give me a call to inform me what room would I be assigned or what time would I show up. Or what food would I want to order when I would already be around. It was a regular and consistent advisory from Jowee who was as excited as me in meeting and seeing Cynthia in person.


            I could imagine the busy bodies in the room where Cynthia and Jowee were moving about.


            For a provincial setting where a guest from abroad was scheduled to arrive, there would be a frenzy atmosphere. It would be a major event among alumni of a school and the business would be very obvious. People identified with Cynthia from all corners of San Pablo and other neighboring places would teem the hotel she was billeted.


            I wasn’t informed of the name of the hotel until the say I would come.


            In the morning of the trip, I got up early and eventually prepared for my San Pablo City travel.


            To make my ride more convenient and less traffic, I opted to take my UV ride in Balibago bus terminal in Santa Rosa City. There it was an easy ride because there weren’t as many passengers to San Pablo unlike in Alabang or in Turbina in Calamba City where hordes of passengers on southbound sojourn were countless. Rush hour was always a temper to get into.


            So I was on my way to San Pablo City early afternoon on board a van. (To be continued)

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