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My memories of Cynthia Barker, Worshipful Mayor of Hertsmere in UK (Part 11)

On our way to Las Piñas City for a meeting with fashion designer Mitch Desunia, the dressmaker of Cynthia Alcantara-Barker, the late Worshipful Mayor of Hertsmere district in the county of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, actress and beauty queen Azenith Briones was still the icebreaker inside the car Ador Alcantara, Cynthia’s brother, was driving.


While Ador was on the wheels, Cynthia was on the driver’s seat while British-Filipino filmmaker Jowee Morel, Azenith and I were on the rear seats. Cynthia was still in herself, quiet and reserved. She would just smile if Azenith was telling funny stories like her meeting with Beth Jones, the irrepressible mom of actress Angelica Jones. Briones, the Alcantaras and the Joneses were from San Pablo City.


Angelica who at the time lost her vice gubernatorial bid wasn’t doing anything politically (she was previously a provincial board member and now back to her board membership of the province) had to connect, reconnect and interconnect with practically every Lagunense in sight and Beth was a vital force in the actress’ gaining back to local politics. So the mother was taking every good opportunity to renew their ties with the people who could lend them power and endorsement much more manna from heaven.


Zenith was talking about her discussion with Beth about the effectiveness of a local politician to endear to San Pabloeños and San Pabloeñas. Azenith said she had a heated argument with Mrs. Jones but they ended up civilly, though. “Nauunawaan ko naman si Beth. Madali naman kaming magkaintindihan (I understood Beth. We could easily and mutually understand each other),” quipped Briones.


The beauty queen-actress knew and still knows all the local public officials of Laguna as she also ran for board membership some two elections but sadly lost in the game. She was talking about Ramil Hernandez, the Governor of Laguna who succeeded ER Ejercito. She also had interesting anecdotes about lawmaker Sol Aragones and Vice Governor Karen Agapay.


Cynthia was amused about Azenith comprehensive knowledge about politics in Laguna. She would just smile about Briones’ political culture.


Barker might not be fully familiar with the people Azenith was talking about but she had a relevant orientation about how politics worked not only in the whole Philippines but in the province as well which included her home region. “I didn’t know I would be in politics. At first, I was just helping my fellow district residents but later on, I was convinced to run for the twin council which I won. That started it all,” said Cynthia while we were caught in a heavy mess of traffic along Alabang-Zapote Road.


Still, Zenith was proud of her kababayan Cynthia for drawing big responsibility and power in foreign politics.


There were other small talk that transpired inside the car courtesy of Azenith who was tireless in her storytelling about practically everything under the sun.


Finally, we reached the fashion den of Mitch which looked like a familiar place for Jowee and me for a number of reasons. One, it was distinct building among the other establishments in the area which was indeed a residential hub but it was located in the main road so it had a commercial sense whenever I passed by that part of Las Piñas. Two, it was once the office of the beleaguered engineer-businessman Ervin Mateo, the former producer of MMG Film International. I would drop by that building before when I was helping MMG with their publicity for movies and television. Three, it was one of the locations of Jowee’s shoots of “Latak (Residue).” “That’s right. That’s why it looked familiar,” Morel chuckled.


“Marami palang memories itong lugar na ito sa inyo (So there are many memories this place evokes),” observed Cynthia while we were going up the building.


Desunia was leasing out the building for her fashion factory of gowns, casual dresses, RTWs, sportswear and other accessories.


Cynthia was there as promised to her designer. And she also had to order another wear for her wardrobe in going back to the UK.


Barker was proud of how far Mitch had gone into her fashion business. You see, the two clicked with each other. Primarily, because Cynthia was a well-adjusted person to anyone so she could relate just practically to anybody regardless of race, gender, spiritual beliefs, social station etc. She was a person who could sit well with anyone even if the other part would be at first antagonistic to her.


Desunia had us toured in every nook and cranny of her fashion hub. Cynthia was impressed about the way her friend has managed to grow her business. Mitch had a business connection as well in London and other parts of the UK for her fashion items. As a matter of fact, she had just launched a unique imported package to the UK and Barker was one of the first clients of her business venture.


And because Azenith was a fashion plate, she naturally was adapted to the ways and means of Mitch. Being a model, Briones was vicariously feeling the fashion business acumen of Desunia but of course, the actress-beauty queen had already her usual fashion suspects like Albert Minguez, Oskar Peralta, Renee Salud and a lot more.


Cynthia’s many Filipiniana outfit and frocks were made customized for her by Mitch.


Jowee, Ador and I were just pretty well in one corner to wait and savor every minute Cynthia was spending in her visit to a fashion house in the country. Barker got some fashion points from Desunia and lately, from Azenith in the most casual manner like the way she carried herself would influence Cynthia in more ways than one. Simplicity was beauty was the maxim she subscribed to. Just like what Briones had showed in her mode of dressing.


Before we left Mitch fashion factory, there were pictorials inside her office.


Who would ever know it would be the last time we would photo-op with Cynthia in her stylish way of sartorial realism? (To be continued)

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