There couldn’t be more apt a description of the saying “death comes like a thief in the night” when Cynthia Alcantara-Barker, the very first British-Filipina Mayor of Hertsmere district in Hertfordshire county in the United Kingdom succumbed to a sudden demise last Monday, September 14, 2020.
She was, after all, very alive and active when I talked to her online a month ago to discuss her first two months of public service when she was elected mayor.
“I was nervous during the election even if it was done in Zoom conference but I knew there were many fellow councilors who would vote for me,” she exclaimed.
“Now I am doing my series of visits to the various parts of Hertsmere. Being a mayor in the UK doesn’t mean a political post. My duties and responsibilities are focused on the issues that beset my district like housing, migration and other community concerns. More so, the mitigation of COVID-19 is my main agenda.
“During this pandemic, there are many families which are affected especially emotionally. Nagbi-breakdown ang family sa ganitong sitwasyon. (the family breaks down during this situation),” she stressed. “We look after the children,” she added.
She was bubbly at the time. The only thing that cut off our conversation was when a plumber went to their house to fix her bathroom. “Sorry, nagkataon lang ito (this is just coincidental),” she apologized.
I never knew she had a lingering illness after all these years.
This was the official statement of Gene Alcantara, Cynthia’s elder brother who lives in London. “It is with extreme sadness that we announce the passing of The Worshipful Hertsmere Mayor Councillor Cynthia Barker following a bout of serious illness.
“We will be issuing further information in due course, but may we ask please to respect the family’s privacy at this very difficult time. Your prayers for the repose of her soul would however be welcome.
“ALCANTARA, BARKER, BARTOLOME & KELLY FAMILIES United Kingdom.”
What is unique in the UK politics is Cynthia’s incumbency as a councilor of twin boroughs Elstree and Borehamwood, also in Hertsmere, even if she’s already the mayor of the district.
During Cynthia’s death, she was one of the Board of Directors of the Elstree and Borehamwood Museum, a repository of English filmmaking history.
Being the mayor, she had the jurisdiction over Elstree and Borehamwood Studios, the Hollywood version of filmmaking hub in Europe.
Elstree Studios is the home of television shows “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” “Big Brother,” the mother show of ABS-CBN’s “Pinoy Big Brother,” “Strictly Come Dancing,” among others and the location sets of blockbusters “Harry Potter,” “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” James Bond movies and a lot more.
Now that Cynthia is gone, the Conservative Party, the political camp where she belonged, is mourning her death dearly.
Controversial Fil-Briton filmmaker Jowee Morel (“Moma,” “Ec2luv,” “Mga Paru-Parong Rosas,” “Mona Singapore Escort,” “When a Gay Man Loves,” “Latak,” “HiStory,” “Strictly Confidential,” “Leona Calderon,” “The Making of Quezon City” etc.) is still in shock when the bad news reached him. “She a family to me in the UK,” said Jowee.
Cynthia was born and raised in San Pablo City. She studied her elementary and high schools in Laguna and took up Industrial Engineering in Adamson University and finished it in 1979. Afterwards, she was petitioned by her OFW mom to London.
From there, she took many odd jobs like selling vacuum cleaners and working as a travel agency agent until she made good in recruitment of nurses.
Cynthia, in between her work as manager of the recruitment agency, was involved in socio-civic projects in her Hertsmere community where she was spotted by the Conservative Party at the time of Prime Minister David Cameron and groomed her as a politician.
As the sad news broke out, the whole world weeps for Cynthia’s passing.