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Get to know the first Filipina elected as town mayor in England

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.

East Grinstead town mayor Danny Favor is the first Filipino mayor in England (Photo from East Grinstead’s website)

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.

Cynthia Alcantara Barker is the first Filipina town mayor in England (Photo from FilCASPro)

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.”

Heidecel Serrano

Heidecel Serrano is a London-based contributor for The Filipino Times. She has worked for The Filipino Times as a reporter/writer from 2018 until she moved to the United Kingdom in 2019. She focuses her writing on light-hearted and inspiring stories among OFWs in Europe. You may contact her at [email protected]

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