A Filipina veteran physiotherapist was elected councilor for Martins Wood ward in Stevenage, England.
Myla Arceno, 48, is the first Filipino to run for local elections in England under the Labour and Co-operative Party and successfully win a seat in a local council, according to a report from ANC.
“The Party welcomes everyone, especially those from ethnic minority. It aims to deliver an equal and fairer society,” said Arceno.
The British political system is a two party system, with two dominant parties, namely, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.
“It’s actually the Labour party that initiated and made way for most Filipinos to come here and to work for the National Health Service (NHS),” she said.
Arceno said she accepted the invitation by local party leaders to run in the May 6 election after her almost two decades of dancing, promoting Philippine culture, and community work.
“It actually started from our dance group. Can you imagine that? I love the Filipino dances so I organized the community and young kids. We always performed, not only in Stevenage, but also in other towns and cities because we wanted to promote the beautiful Filipino culture. It became bigger and we organized the Barrio Fiesta in Hertsfordshire,” Arceno told ANC.
Arceno, who works in the NHS as physiotherapist, said she initially declined the invitation for her to run as her priority is to take care of her children and her career.
“I said ‘No’ initially. But I have been thinking, what I have been doing now is what a councilor should do,” she said.
She added that being an NHS frontliner was also instrumental in her win.
Arceno, who is a native of Pulupandan, Negros Occidental, migrated to England in January, 2003. She and her son migrated as a dependent of her husband, Joseph, who also works in NHS as physiotherapist.
She later applied to work at the local hospital.
“I just went to the Physiotherapy Department in our local hospital and I just applied,” said Arceno, who is now the Cardiac Rehab Lead in the NHS Trust.
Arceno earned her degree in Physical Therapy from Riverside College in Bacolod City.
She owned a clinic in Kalibo and was a teacher in Roxas City before migrating with her family to England.
The family originally planned to stay in England for only 3-5 years but never left Stevenage, she added.
Arceno, meanwhile, said that her motivation to be in public service is to give back to the community that welcomed her family.
“I wanted to show that we are not here just to work, to earn and padala sa (send money to the) Philippines. We are also here to be involved and be part of the community,” she said.
“Also, our voice will be much better heard if we are there and they can see us. And, I want to give back to the community,” Arceno added.
Arceno also encourages more Filipinos to run in the local office and become leaders.
“I want to be a role model for them, that if they want to do something, you can do it.”