Meet the First-Ever Filipina to Be Elected As A Mayor in England

Meet the First-Ever Filipina to Be Elected As A Mayor in England

Hailing from Laguna, Cynthia Alcantara Barker is now the Mayor of Hertsmere.

UPDATE: Cynthia Alcantara Barker, Mayor of Hertsmere in Hertfordshire, has passed away due to serious illness on 14 Sep 2020, as confirmed by her family. She was the first Filipina to be appointed as mayor of her district. 

Filipinos are leaving their mark in the world in the arenas of sports, food, music, theatre, and the arts. Now, it appears they’re beginning to be recognised in public service overseas as well. Say hello to Cynthia Alcantara Barker, the politician who has made history as the first-ever Filipina mayor in England

On 24 Jun 2020, Cynthia Alcantara Barker was elected and sworn in virtually as the Mayor of Hertsmere, a borough in Hertfordshire, England. The daughter of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), Barker has served as a town councillor for Borehamwood Brookmeadow ward and a borough councillor for Potters Bar Furzefield. She has lived in Hertsmere for nearly 29 years. 

Before she migrated to the United Kingdom, Barker and her four siblings lived in San Pablo City, also known as the “City of Seven Lakes” in Laguna, Philippines

Cynthia Alcantara Barker, the first Filipina mayor in England

Cynthia Alcantara Barker (middle) at the Elstree and Borehamwood Museum in Hertfordshire  | Image credit: Cllr. Cynthia Barker

In an article published on Philippine Panorama, Barker says that she was only nine years old when her mother, Nelia Bartolome Alcantara, had to leave their family to work in London as a nanny. For five years, Barker and her siblings would receive handwritten letters and packages from their mother, who always reminded them to study hard. 

Taking her mother’s teachings to heart, Barker received her degree in Industrial Engineering at Adamson University in Manila. After graduating from university, she took on the role of a supervisor at a garments factory, before eventually joining her mother in London in 1983. 

Upon arriving in London for the first time, Barker witnessed first-hand her mother’s struggles as a live-in nanny. She realised how much her mother had to sacrifice in order to provide for their family in the Philippines. Furthermore, she saw what had been missing from her mother’s heartfelt letters: the loneliness and homesickness that she felt as an immigrant worker in England. 

“Seeing her sacrifice made me want to succeed more just so her hard work would not be for naught,” Barker told Philippine Panorama. “It was not so hard because my parents already instilled in me to strive for excellence, to give my best, my heart and soul.” 

From her mother, Barker gained the determination and inspiration to pursue her aspirations. Barker continued her studies at the University of Hertfordshire. Moreover, she became actively involved in charities and volunteer work, which earned her an invitation to join the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. 

According to Filipino Guide, Barker hopes to use her first year as mayor to raise funds for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a London-based charity that helps abused children. 

Also read: The Life of A Diplomat: This Retired Ambassador Shares Her Experience!

Cynthia Alcantara Barker (left) at Hertford Castle for Mayor Rosemary Bolton’s evening of cheese & wine tasting to raise money for Herts Young Homeless and Carers in Herts | Image credit: Cllr. Cynthia Barker

As the first Filipina mayor to be appointed in England, Barker feels grateful to her OFW mother, who taught her the value of hard work and perseverance. To this day, these are important life lessons she carries with her in her advocacies as a public servant. 

“For most Filipinos, leaving to work abroad is not a choice, but an inevitable reality, brought by the desire to provide a better life,” Barker said in Philippine Panorama. “And the least that we can do, as their children, is to make sure that we do lead better lives.” 

Featured image is credited to Cynthia Barker | Twitter 

About Author


TripZilla inspires travel with guides, tips and stories by our community of travellers in and around Southeast Asia.


Related Posts