What's Up


My memories of Cynthia Barker, Worshipful Mayor of Hertsmere in UK (Part 12)

Beauty queen-actress Azenith Briones wanted her Filipino hospitality the color of the day so after our meeting with fashion designer Mitch Desunia, she thought of a wonderful dinner to cap the night.


Azenith was still mesmerized with the personal encounter with Cynthia Barker, that time still a councilor of twin boroughs Elstree and Borehamwood in Hertsmere district in the county of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. Imagine having almost a day of togetherness with Cynthia Alcantara, one of her successful city mate in San Pablo in the Province of Laguna.


Briones didn’t spend much time with just anyone but people who mattered. Since she became a beauty queen and an actress, she knew how to separate the chaff from the grain. People she was associated with like the Reyeses, the family of her late husband El Rey Reyes, a fellow San Pabloeño who, despite the image of a town lottery mogul was revered by his kababayans for whatever he was worth. The Reyeses have been pillars of San Pablo City since time immemorial. Azenith was also affiliated with Lito Lapid, one of the senators of the land and once her boyfriend when she was still very, very active in show business. Briones was also running around with many prominent people not only in her city but in the whole Philippines as well. Remember Pia Millado, the model and actress who was a talent of controversial British-Filipino filmmaker Jowee Morel? Pia’s roots were in San Pablo because her mom and dad were from the region. Millado’s parents were Briones’ best pals. The Manihays, Millado’s family circle, are owners of a big school in General Santos City. Even in showbiz, Azenith prided herself of being a former leading lady of the late King of Comedy Dolphy and a protégé of veteran entertainment writer and talent manager Ethel Ramos. Name them and Zenith shared their glories.


 And at the time Cynthia’s glory.


Azenith decided we (Cynthia, her elder younger brother Ador Alcantara, Jowee and I) went to Alabang in Muntinlupa City for another meal of native dishes.


On we went to Alabang.


It was again a joy ride to the commercial district of Muntinlupa. Cynthia enjoyed it very much especially with her kababayans in tow. It was like holiday for her because after this vacation was a string of jobs again in Hertsmere. She took advantage of it no matter the long trip from Manila to San Pablo City and vice-versa in one day.


Azenith was on top of the dinner as she ordered the most fascinating menu in the list of the home cooked so-called food in that restaurant in the middle of the manicured Alabang Town Center environs. Cynthia was also fascinated with the ambience and the food served in the cozy eatery. 




Briones said her son would pick her up from that place after the dinner since Cynthia and Ador would be going straight home to San Pablo City while Jowee would take his ride from the Alabang bus and SUV terminal where trips to Sta. Cruz, Laguna abound. From the capital site of the province Morel would just take a ride to his place in Pagsanjan.


It was a night of another interesting camaraderie and nostalgia among Cynthia, Azenith and Ador. There was a postscript of other forgotten episodes in the teen life of Briones and Alcantara so it was again Azenith time to bring back memories of their youth.


Cynthia savored not only the yummy Filipino dishes but the thrills of Azenith’s stories down memory lane.


At first I wouldn’t want to join the dinner anymore because I had a very important thing to do that night in connection with my writing job but Ador wouldn’t want that I missed the dine-out so I remained with the group. The writing job would take another extra hour after as the get-together was not a daily happening unlike movie journalism.


Briones was again on top of her energy, as usual. She would relate her exciting family life no matter as a single parent. She would narrate as well the tragedy that befell her family when husband El Rey had a sudden death due to suffocation at the Resorts World Manila some three years ago. Cynthia felt sad and emphatic about Azenith’s fate. She was so concerned about her that she asked how she was managing the whole affair. Of course, each one that night had gone through tragic experience in the loss of a loved one but Briones case was far too different from the common death in the family but bereavement as well in any size and color.


Family came first with Cynthia even if she was already separated from her British-Polish husband. Family was the core entity she valued. She’s got one kid, a daughter, Christine and she loved her so much. According to Cynthia in the conversation, her grandkids were her balancing acts between hard work and private life. She loved her beautiful grandchildren who were already making pretty good memories of them that time especially their precociousness. 


Azenith was also like her. As a mom, she valued the solidarity of the family. Like Cynthia, Azenith was also the centerpiece of the filial piety. “Basta ako, kahit na mabunganga ako, bastat nasa ayos ang lahat sa pamilya (I tell you, even if I am chatty as long as the family is in order),” Zenith professed.


Cynthia would just smile with the candid gesture of the beauty queen-actress. She was happy to be with Azenith as part of her youth. It was the prime of Azenith Briones when Cynthia was in her early teens and she would remember many things that would make every San Pabloeño and San Pabloeña proud of her as an actress and a beauty queen.


Ador was also amazed with not only with his sis’ closely knitted family but with Azenith as well he would appreciate the women’s serious roles in running the most significant unit of society. (To be continued)

Share this article