THE voice of the people is the voice of God. So the saying goes. Today, it is time once again for the voice of the people to be heard through the ballot. As we go to the polls, here are some points to ponder.

One. Let us not take our privilege to vote for granted. In some jurisdictions, the citizens do not even get to vote. So let us go out and vote. And to the extent allowed by personal circumstances, let us help ensure that our vote is properly counted.

Two. Election day is the great equalizer. It is only on election day where the one vote of Lucio Cruz is equal to the one vote of Lucio Tan.

Three. We have made our choices but we should always respect the choices made by others. We can agree to disagree but let not the heat of the election campaign kill good manners and civility in dealing with those of the opposite view. Don't let a political debate injure great friendships. Ang eleksiyon ay isang araw lamang. Our bets may lose the election, but we don't have to lose friends because of it. Take extra care in choosing your words when arguing your point with your friends. The candidates that you staunchly defend may not even know you exist.

That said, I am now going to my precinct with the fervent prayer that majority of the Filipino electorate will "Let Leni lead." And that they will "Help Kiko help Leni to lead."

I wish everyone an honest, peaceful, orderly and credible election.

Unforgettable election campaign experiences

During an election period like this, I cannot but fondly recollect some of my own unforgettable election experiences. They happened years ago, in a different generation, when I took to the campaign trail either for myself or my party's candidates.

I first took office in 1986 as one of the many Officers-in-Charge (OICs) of President Corazon C. Aquino. Two years later, I ran in the first election after Edsa which elected local officials.

I sought election as Mayor of Muntinlupa. As was customary, the preferred mode of campaigning in our town was house-to-house.

One day, we were campaigning along the railroad tracks in Sucat, the northernmost barangay of Muntinlupa right next to Taguig. I was accompanied by all our party candidates from vice mayor to the councilors.

I was much younger then and I could easily work both sides of the railroad tracks. I did not mind the scorching afternoon sun as I tried to pump as many hands as I could. It was heartwarming and re-assuring to hear from the constituents their words of support.

Then, an old man whom I approached told me: "I am sorry I cannot vote for you."

Having recovered from the shock, I asked him: "Why, Lolo? Do you not approve of the way I ran Muntinlupa?"

"You are OK, Mayor," he said. "But you see, you are already in Taguig!"

***

Kris Aquino, who was just starting her career in show biz, made a surprise visit during one of our small evening plaza meetings. She sang a couple songs to the delight of the crowd and then delivered her spiel -- "Ang sabi ng Mommy ko, iboto ninyo si Toting. Basta si Toting, Magaling!"

My gut feel, prior to that point in the campaign, was that the local election would be closely contested. After Kris' appearance, I felt that I began to surge ahead.

But the big moment came when President Cory, herself, showed up during our "miting de avance". She told a crowd of thousands gathered at the Alabang jeepney terminal: "Kung pipili ako ng 5 pinakamahusay kong OIC, makakaseguro kayo na isa doon si Toting."

With the vaunted "Cory magic", it was all over but the shouting.

***

Once, President Fidel V. Ramos visited Muntinlupa City Hall to proclaim his official candidates for the 1995 local elections. Over coffee, and his trademark unlighted cigar, FVR gave his anointed candidates precious tips on how to campaign.

"I call this 4K," FVR started.

"First K. Kawayan. Wave at the people. By waving you immediately establish contact with them even from afar.

"Second K. Kamayan. Up close, shake their hands. Your hand shake must be firm. While shaking hands, don't forget the eye contact.

"Third K. Kumustahan. While shaking hands, ask a general question about the family. Everybody appreciates being asked about his/her loved ones.

"And don't forget the last K. Kodakan. Filipinos are very fond of picture-taking."

"4K is a sure-fire formula," FVR said with a wink and a “thumbs up.”