April 23, 2024

Residents of Benguet and elsewhere are mourning the passing on March 21 of Kabayan Mayor Faustino Aquisan. He was 61.
“It hurts saying goodbye, our beloved ‘Ama ni ili’. Why so soon? But we shall be consoled that your soul finds eternal rest with our Father in heaven. Thank you for sharing your life and giving your all to us, you are gone but never in our hearts. We will surely miss you for there is none like you,” reads the social media post of the Kabayan local government.
Aquisan started his political career when he was elected mayor in 2007 and went on to serve for the next terms. In 2016, Aquisan vied for the vice governor post but lost his bid.
In 2019, he was elected anew as the town mayor until his demise.
It was during his leadership that the municipality’s eco-tourism was fully developed and promoted, establishing the moniker “mystical Kabayan” which has inspired other towns in Benguet to create their own taglines to establish their identities. 
Before venturing into politics, he was an active student leader at the University of Baguio where he earned in 1984 his Commerce degree and Masters in Public Administration. 
He was president of the Benguet Student Circle-UB Bibak in 1980 to 1982; vice president of the League of Filipino Students-Region 1 from 1981 to 1982; founder of the Kabayan Students Organization and Association of Responsible Kabayan Students, and governor of UB Graduate School from 2001 to 2002, among other student organizations.
Aquisan’s work experiences also have shaped the way he led as a chief executive later in his life.
While studying, he worked as a porter at the Baguio City public market from 1978 to 1981; a janitor for the Rural Bank of Atok for three years then rose as a savings collector for the same bank for two years until he became a bookkeeper for a year. 
He became president of the Benguet Contractors Association for a year while operating the Aquisan Construction from 1990 to 1998.
He started dabbling into politics when he became the liaison officer for Manila under the late Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa from 2001 to 2003, and liaison officer for infrastructure projects under the late Benguet Gov. Rocky Molintas in 2004.   
He was a recipient of several recognitions primarily placing mystical Kabayan in the tourism map as a newest eco-tourism travel destination and Mount Pulag as hiking destination. He led the forging of linkages through the Department of Tourism with sisterhood ties with Sagada, Mountain Province; Banaue, Ifugao; Tabuk City, Kalinga; Makati City and Merrizo, Guam.
Aquisan conceptualized and staged the Bindiyan Festival in 2008, which has since been celebrated annually. The Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines recognized the second staging of the activity as first runner-up in the best tourism practices, best tourism event, festival category.
During his term, the “Kiling Festival” was also created to celebrate the Siberian ruby-throat, red-necked bird called kiling whose shrill ‘shout’ signals the start of summer.  
He had revitalized the active and full participation of the youth in various community development activities. Most notable was in 2012, when he supported the Kabayan Youth Cultural Dance Troupe to participate in the Panagbenga street dance showdown where the group became champion, then elevated to the Hall of Fame in 2014.
The KYCDT went a notch higher when it participated in the Aliwan Fiesta in 2013, placing fourth runner-up with a special award as Best Folkloric Performance – a first time award in 11 years.
The late mayor is also known as the “action man” in his town for immediately addressing the needs of his constituents especially during disasters.
He received various awards such as the Presidential Award, Lingkod Bayan Award as most outstanding second termer municipal mayor in 2011 by SerbisyongPinoy magazine; Most Outstanding Mayor of the Philippines by the Good Samaritan of the Philippines Inc. in 2010; Most Outstanding Municipal Mayor, Best in Public Service by Gawad International, Inc. in 2009, among other awards.
The Department of Interior and Local Government also awarded the Seal of Good Housekeeping to the municipality for its effort in advancing the principles of accountability and transparency in local government.
Fellow public servants and constituents were surprised by his untimely passing due to cardiac arrest at Notre Dame De Chartres Hospital on March 21.
He was remembered for his commitment and support to various activities even those outside his town.
“Mayor Aquisan has always been supportive of our endeavors and, when we least expected but needed it the most, we were always touched by his wonderful presence,” La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda said.
He is survived by his wife Linda and children Rey Alwin, Wynster, and Irish.
His remains are now in his residence at Alapang, La Trinidad, Benguet. – Ofelia C. Empian