Las Vegas Mayor To Honor Fil Am Taxi Driver

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – The sensational feat pulled by a Filipino American taxi driver, who returned the $300,000 cash left in his taxi by a grateful but shy poker player, has also caught the attention of government officials in Nevada.

Bill Shranko, Chief Operating Officer of Yellow Checker Star Transportation Company of Las Vegas, told the Fil Am Extra Exchange in an exclusive interview Monday that Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman is going to sign a proclamation, honoring the honesty of Gerardo Gamboa, a native of Mabalacat, Pampanga in the Philippines.

Shranko also said that Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (Nev.-D) have also reached out to him to tell Gamboa that they are going to write Gamboa letters of thanks that made Nevadans very proud of what Gamboa did.

 

He also confirmed that the poker player, who left the $300,000 in the Checker taxi cab driven by Gamboa, gave Gamboa a $10,000 (P12.6-M) cash reward at an undisclosed place last Dec. 27 in Las Vegas.

Shranko’s company also gave Mr. Gamboa a $1,000 reward and the honor as “Driver of the Year.”  Gamboa also received a complimentary dinner-for-two treat in a high-end hotel in Las Vegas.

Gamboa was accompanied by Gamboa’s supervisor when the poker player made good his pledge to give him the $10,000 cash. Shranko described the reward the largest ever finder’s fee and the largest amount ever recovered lost money in Las Vegas.

“What Gerardo Gamboa did was great for every taxi driver around the world. They will feel very good about their profession. When people come to Las Vegas, they will feel very comfortable. We are very proud of Gerardo and his wife, (Elsa, nee: Baluyut, a native of Capas, Tarlac in the Philippines) whom I met today. And the Mayor (Goodman) will sign a proclamation (to honor Gamboa), the Governor (Sandoval) and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid are sending letters of thanks for what Gamboa had done.”

THANKS HIS PARENTS FOR TEACHING HIM THE VALUE OF HONESTY

In an interview with FAXX, Gamboa thanked his parents for instilling in him the “ginintuang aral na maging marangal sa lahat ng ating mga gawain” (Golden rule being honest in whatever we do). Even if the poker player did not give me a cent as a reward, I would still be happy with my decision. I just wanted to help him recover his lost money. I did not have even a five-cent stake in that money.

“Sa mga nakakabasa nito o nakakarinig ng boses ko, ito ang magandang halimbawa na nandito tayo sa ibang bansa na hindi natin kalahi. Kahit tayo ay mahirap lang na bansa, ang ating mga kababayan ay magaganda ang loob na hindi kayang tumbasan ng pera. Dahil ang karangalan natin ay hindi mabebenta at walang makakabili nito sa habang buhay. Tayong mga Filipino ay very knowledgeable at mga desente at iyon ang dapat nating patunayan sa kanila sa buong mundo na tayong mga Filipino ay mabubuti at honest.”

(To those who will read this or those who will hear my voice, what happened to me was a good example of an immigrant living with other people from different races. Even if we are from a poor country, our fellow Filipinos have integrity that cannot be bought by any amount of money. Because integrity is not for sale and nobody can buy this while we are alive. We, Filipinos, are very knowledgeable and decent people and we have to prove this to the world that Filipinos are good and honest.)

Gamboa, 55, said as a high school graduate in the Philippines, he could not find a job so he came to the United States in 1984 when he was petitioned by a sister married to a U.S. Air Force officer to immigrate. He became a U.S. citizen in 1989 and initially worked in a food catering company in Dayton, Ohio, supplying food to airplanes.

REWARD MONEY USYED TO BUY USED-CAR 1999 HONDA ODYSSEY

Later, he worked briefly at the Los Angeles International Airport also along the line of food catering business. But he did not like his job so he decided to return to the Philippines in 1985 and married his current wife (Elsa). They came back from the Philippines direct to Las Vegas and start a family. They have one child, Kristi Lyn Gamboa, 21, who is completing an education degree and living in Florida.

He has been a taxi driver in Las Vegas for 22 years, 14 of which have been at Yellow Checker Star Transportation, according to a brief bio, furnished this reporter by Joel Wilden, Field Operations Manager of Yellow Checker Star Transportation Co.

Gamboa has two brothers, who live in Las Vegas along with several nieces and nephews. Another brother is a Christian missionary in the Philippines. The rest of his extended family lives in Ohio and Florida.

Although, his wife, Elsa, works in a slot department in a casino in Las Vegas, Gamboa said he enjoyed his work as a taxi driver because he has an “outdoors personality.” An avid fisherman, Gamboa goes to nearby San Diego, California to “fish or spend time outdoors.”

When asked what he would do with the $10,000 reward money, he said he spent it to buy a used-car 1999 Honda Odyssey and deposited the balance to his IRA retirement account. “Kailangan palitan ko na ang kakarag-karag kong 1993 Toyota Corolla.” (I really have to retire my beat-up 1993 model Toyota Corolla sedan.)

Gamboa said while all his family and friends were supportive of his decision to return the $300,000, which he said was “really the right thing to do,” he got calls from fellow Filipino naysayers, who labeled him “istupido” (stupid) for returning the lost money.

He told the naysayers, “di baling tawagin nila akong istupido, huwag lang magnanakaw.” (I don’t mind if some killjoys would call me stupid, but I will mind if they would call me a thief.)

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PHOTO CAPTION AND CREDIT

HAPPY WITH THE $10K REWARD:
Gerardo Gamboa displays the $10,000 reward money given to him Friday (Dec. 27) in an undisclosed location in Las Vegas, Nevada by the poker player, who left the $300,000 cash in his Yellow Checker Star Transportation Co. taxicab. (FAXX/jGLi photo courtesy of Yellow Checker Star Transportation Co.)

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