Filipinos are making waves all over the world – not just in the world of sports, music, and theatre, but this time in the political world.
Amidst the lockdown, Cynthia Alcantara Barker was announced as town mayor of Hertsmere, Hertfordshire in June. She made history as the first Filipina to be elected in the position.
Here are some interesting facts about her:
She was elected as Councillor in 2015 and Deputy Mayor in 2019
Barker started making history in 2015 when she was elected as town councilor of Elstree and Borehamwood. Under the Conservative Party, she then ran for Deputy Mayor in 2019 and was elected by her constituents.
She is the second Filipino to be elected as town mayor
Indeed, Barker is the first Filipina to be elected as town mayor in England. But prior to her success, another Filipino, Danny Favor, was voted mayor of East Grinstead, making him the first Filipino town mayor in the country. His term will end in 2021.
She was recognised and awarded by the British community
Due to her leadership contribution in the community, Barker received a British Community Honours Award and met the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
She grew up in San Pablo City, Laguna
Contrary to people’s assumption that she was born and raised in the UK, Barker was actually born in the “City of Seven Lakes” San Pablo City, Laguna. She studied Industrial Engineering in Adamson University.
After finishing her degree, she moved to the UK and worked for the British Council. Years later, she started her own businesses in various fields including recruitment, healthcare care training and immigration law practice.
She is the daughter of an OFW
Barker is the daughter of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in the UK. Her mother left her in the ‘70s, along with her four siblings. When they were old enough, her OFW mother helped them to migrate to the UK.
When asked about her advice to fellow Filipinos, Barker said that the key is to not forget about your Philippine blood and to merge it with new cultures. “You will not be successful, or you will not be happy if you say ‘I am just British or I’m just Filipino. You have to integrate and embrace both.”