MANILA -- A Filipino taxi driver in the United States hailed as a hero when he evacuated six wounded victims at the height of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, disregarding his own safety, has been widely known by friends in his hometown in Bohol as a compassionate man and always ready to help a neighbor in distress.
“Yes, Wenifredo ‘Winnie’ Maquindang, is always a Good Samaritan whose compassion of helping anyone in need, including lending money to anyone is widely known here in Loboc, Bohol,” said Mrs. Alma F. Taldo, a neighbor of the Maquindang family, in a phone interview with this reporter Friday afternoon.
“In fact, every time Winnie comes home from the U.S. he gives a blow-out to his family, neighbors and friends in Loboc, not once but almost every day,” Taldo added.
“He wants everybody to be happy,” she said.
“When a friend or even those whom he did not know would borrow money from him, he always lends them, and if one does not pay it is alright with him," Mrs. Taldo stressed.
Maquindang was at the vicinity of the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas when a lone gunman, Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire with his automatic weapon at a huge crowd attending a country-music concert last October 1, killing 59 people and wounding more than 527 others.
The incident is considered to be the worst mass massacre in America’s history.
During an interview with radio station dyTR in Tagbilaran City, Maquindang said when he first heard the first volume of gunfire, he thought it was a fireworks display.
But when the staccato of gunfire continued and saw thousands of people screaming for their lives, instead of fleeing like his fellow taxi drivers and others, his first instinct was to help, and he did.
He was practically in the line of fire as he hauled six wounded victims to his cab and brought them to the nearest hospital in Las Vegas.
Driving at full speed with hazard lights on, Maquindang beat the red light going to the hospital.
After the medical attendants took the wounded to the emergency room, the Filipino taxi driver tried to go back to the Mandalay Hotel but all roads were blocked by police cars.
His courageous act in the face of grave danger to his own life was only recognized days later after the massacre when Las Vegas residents called Maquindang a hero.
A humble Maquindang said that his only concern was to help the wounded and brought them to the hospital.
For his act of heroism, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman invited him to her office and some media outfits trying to interview him. Maquindang showed the footage of his dash cam mounted on his taxi to the media.
Maquindang has a twin brother, Tony, who is also in the United States. His mother, Henoviva, who is more than 90 years old, is bedridden and staying at their house in Loboc, Bohol, some 40 kilometers from the capital city of Tagbilaran.
Mrs. Taldo also said that aside from Winnie and Tony, there are seven other brothers of them, who are known for their generosity. (PNA)