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My memories of the late Cynthia Barker by Boy Villasanta (First of a series)

Just because my education was American colonial, most of my backgrounds in the histories of foreign countries were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and all the contemporary US leaders if not the July 4th Fil-American Day. Peace Corps volunteers, the predecessors of Thomasites, were my English teachers. Hollywood was my cultural education. The irony was that in my youth I thought all English-speaking actors were Americans only to find out later that Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Anthony Hopkins etc. were Englishmen while Mel Gibson and Nicole Kidman etc. were Australians and Robert de Niro and Al Pacino were of Italian descent.


Great Britain was also a colonizer but in my case, it came only next to America in its imperial magnitude. In college, American literature was a predominant subject and it was a solo course if not a back-to-back literary history with English lit although the latter had voluminous William Shakespeare entries and a host of other early British master poets, essayists, short storytellers, playwrights and novelists. We knew Queen Elizabeth but we hardly knew the members of the parliamentary. We didn’t know Beatles was English unless it was reported on papers.


Truly, traditional media particularly television and newspapers would carry news on other famous world leaders especially if newsworthy or earthshaking report on Idi Amin or Mao Tse Tung or Chang Kai-shek. Other heads of states, their subordinates and the lower ranking officials we didn’t get to know due to limited information dissemination.


In the age of satellite communications, America was still the hegemonic leader although other powerful countries were smart as well to pull off their space crafts.


In the emergence of migration, though, or the influx of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) especially during the early 70s, our knowledge of politics abroad had started to expand. Kin were keen on sharing government and other sectored news on their host countries however only in domestic fronts.


What more in the advent of social media when there seems to be no more geographical borders among community of nations, even the biggest and the smallest, the quintessential and the insignificant events in every corner of the universe are drawn and shown on the spaces and pages of cyber com?


Still, if a person or an event or a place isn’t constantly publicized or sustained in the consciousness of the public—netizens or plain readers, listeners or viewers of multimedia, it doesn’t strike a chord. Aside from massive publicity, an act should be phenomenal or unique or novel etc. There is always struggle in hegemonizing one’s person or act no matter how impactful or impressive.    


It is in this context that the late Cynthia Alcantara-Barker, the Worshipful Mayor of Hertsmere district in the county of Hertfordshire was positioned.


When controversial Fil-Briton filmmaker first mentioned to me the name Cynthia Barker, of course, it didn’t ring a bell. He said he was a councilor in the United Kingdom. He added that Cynthia was a Filipina from San Pablo City.


Without him bragging her, Jowee was so proud of Cynthia having been voted as councilor in UK where he said was tough to be a politician, local or national because politics there was something noble and reeking with real public service. “There’s no vote-buying in the UK and if one wins in the election, it is sweet victory,” exclaimed Morel.

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