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My memories of Cynthia Barker, Worshipful Mayor of Hertsmere in UK by Boy Villasanta (Part 9)

The following day, Sunday, was a new day for all of us.

The group of Cynthia Alcantara-Barker, the late Worshipful Mayor of Hertsmere district in the country of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, was early birds as shown in the configuration I saw when we met up with them after a night out.

Meanwhile, the night owls in us—Fil-Briton filmmaker Jowee Morel, Cynthia’s fashion designer Mitch Desunia and her assistant and me—was now up and about to have an audience with Barker before we went back to our respective destinations. Jowee had to go back to Pagsanjan, Mitch and her gay Friday to Las Piñas City and me at San Pedro City in Laguna Province.

Jowee was the advance party to see Cynthia the morning after. He would feel his way around if the councilor at the time had full schedule but surely, she would find a time and space for us. The Fil-Brit director sounded off that Cynthia was open to see us, but of course because she had to talk to us officially about what to do, what to write about and how to start the partnership.

Not only should the Philippines be familiar with Cynthia Barker but the world as well. What with the prevalence of the web and social media, all possible campaigns for Cynthia would materialize and succeed.

That morning could be a wide range of and wise interview with her.

I followed Jowee’s instruction to go up Cynthia’s room in the tavern.

There was Barker in her morning glory. She was a simple as anything like a blooming rose in the garden. She was with her kith and kin, most young boys and girls and some grown-ups. I didn’t see Ador, though. He must be around attending to his cousins or paying them visits in their homes. He should take advantage of the occasion.

Noticeably, there was a basket of fruits in the table. I requested Cynthia if I could have the guava and she readily gave it to me.

The anteroom as a dressing space was filled with Cynthia’s wardrobe meant for her entire stay in the country.

She was sitting lightly on her bed.

Oh! This important lady of the hour must be secured but I noticed that she wasn’t given a security force—even a local police—during this time. To think that she was a sort of foreign dignitary as a member of the Conservative Party in the local council of Hertsmere, she must be secured from all possible untoward incidents afforded to a VIP. “No’n nga, nagsabi kami dito na baka puwedeng magkaroon man lang ng isa o dalawang pulis na mag-i-escort kay Cynthia pero wala (Before we requested here if they could assign one or two police authorities to escort Cynthia but no way she was granted),” recalled a male cousin of the councilor. 

In Hertsmere, Cynthia was a secured public servant.

Okay lang ‘yon. Noon nga, wala naman silang ibinigay na escort, okay lang. Kaya ko naman na mag-isa kahit saan (That’s okay. Before they didn’t provide escorts but that’s okay with me. I can manage being by myself anywhere),” she said self-assuredly.

No. She was entitled to even one or two escorts knowing her value as a world leader. She might just be a major council member but that was equivalent as well to an international leader. She was a working English politician like anyone from her mold.

“I just informed the Embassy that I was here in the Philippines. It was enough security for me,” Cynthia humbly quipped.

It was different, though, if she was accorded a security in her own turf even if she had pledged allegiance with the UK flag. She was in a way still a Filipino and an emissary of the UK government suggested in the bilateral relationship between the Philippines and Great Britain.

 

It was also the good person in Cynthia that she must be secured during that time. People would impress upon any balikbayan that anyone from abroad had a precious life (read: sterling pound sign) so one must be protected from vicious and devious intentions.

Barker didn’t make a fuss about the security issue, though.

For her, her safety was equivalent to her self-confidence and self-assurance. She didn’t even need an alalay although her relatives were happy assisting and caring for her which she was thankful for.

People rushed to her that morning. Those who didn’t come around the awards night the day before would want to see and talk to her. Longtime friends and classmates flocked to Sulyap Hotel and took their turns in meeting up with the woman they missed so much.

After our interview with her, she immediately ordered lunch for it was fast approaching twelve noon.

While she was instructing the hotel staff what to offer her guests and entourage, Cynthia was receiving the flow of well-wishers. Here was a group of Cynthia’s childhood friends and classmates who devoted their time even cancelling filial meets just to see her, a rare moment, a once in a blue moon experience reuniting with a long lost friend.

Lintek kayo (Oh! You were striking like lightning),” she happily welcomed these three women very close to her. She was smiling ear to ear to these ladies. It was a wonderful moment of reunion.

“Lintek” was taken here as an expression of endearment in the provincial colloquial conversations although it could also mean a conveyance of irritation or anger in a given context.

No moment was squandered during the meeting so before a lunch of adobo, Cynthia was intently listening to the many colorful anecdotes and recollections from her guests. She was like swinging in bliss. Sweet memories started to ooze in the middle of girls’ talk. Cynthia, obviously, enjoyed and reminisced at the same time her good ol’ days in the idyllic San Pablo. It was like never to hear the end of it. (To be continued)

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