Manuel Tancioco Leelin, patriarch of the Leelin family of Southern California, passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 30, 2018 at his home in the City of Cerritos where he lived for the past 40 years.
He was 88 years old.
Born in Nato, Camarines Sur on December 23, 1929 and popularly known as “Popsy,” Manuel was a leader and pillar of the Filipino American community in Southern California.
He was widely recognized as a successful entrepreneur, whose extraordinary business acumen was proven by the success of companies he established in the Philippines before migrating to the U.S.: Leelin Batteries, Leelin Motors, and Tamaraw Trading.
Manuel finished his elementary and high school studies at Ateneo de Naga.
A Filipino Chinese Bicolano who majored in Accounting at the University of the East in Manila where he was ROTC Corps Commander, Manuel is also known for his illustrious career in government, serving as Governor of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Director of the National Marketing Corporation (NaMarco) and Director of the People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation (Phhc).
He also served as adviser to former Philippine Presidents Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos P.Garcia, and Diosdado Macapagal.
As a staunch Ninoy Aquino supporter and Liberal Party stalwart, Manuel supported and helped the Opposition during the early years of martial law in the Philippines but eventually chose to migrate with his family to California. While in the U.S., Manuel maintained close ties with the then-exiled Ninoy Aquino in Boston and continued to support the US-based Opposition. Together with Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, Raul Daza and Danny Lamila, he served as one of Ninoy’s most trusted advisers, dedicating his time, effort and resources to the fight for freedom and democracy in the Philippines.
In 1976, Manuel (whose two sisters Milagros Leelin Yee and Clarita Leelin Go founded Goldilocks in Manila, Philippines) started Goldilocks Corporation of Southern California with the help of his wife Teresa and their children.
The modest family venture quickly expanded to include six bakeries/restaurants, numerous wholesale accounts and a sprawling production facility in Los Angeles County.
Manuel was at the helm of the company’s operations until his retirement a few years ago. A man of great patience and humility, family members, friends, colleagues and company employees affectionately referred to him as “Mr. Cool.”
With Manuel’s guidance, the company re-branded its retail outlets on February 1, 2014 from Goldilocks to Leelin Bakery and Cafe while the manufacturing facility was renamed Goodness Corporation of California (GCOC).
Today, the company that Manuel founded and handed down to his children and grandchildren is considered an industry icon that Filipino-Americans are proud to acknowledge as their own.
Manuel leaves behind his wife, the former Maria Teresa (Momsy) Magbanua Lee whom he married 67 years ago on his 22nd birthday; their three children, Mendrei and wife Cecile, Menard and wife Yojie, and Carmela; grandchildren Michael and wife Anavie, Mendrick, Mendie and husband Joseph, Monica and husband Matt, Melody, Jantzen; and great-grandchildren Ever, Maeve and Maycee.
Manuel “Popsy” Leelin’s remains will lie in state at St. Linus Church at 13915 Shoemaker Ave., Norwalk, Ca 90650 on Friday, April 13, 2018. Viewing is from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, April 13.
A funeral mass will be held on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at St. Linus Church at 9:00 a.m. Popsy will be laid to rest at a private internment at Holy Cross Memorial Park at 2:30 p.m. on the same day.
For more information about the funeral service, please call Mendrei at 562.577.2985 or Cecile at 562.577.2254, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.