By all accounts, Mark Manlapaz’s family extended well beyond biological boundaries. The Cal Poly Pomona public safety specialist quietly touched lives seemingly wherever he went.
Manlapaz was killed June 29, the victim of a stabbing near the entrance to South Campus, about a mile southeast of the main campus. He was 36.
He worked at Cal Poly Pomona since 2006 and earned two degrees at the university: a bachelor’s in psychology in 2006 and a bachelor’s in human resource management in 2012. He was also a park ranger for the City of Claremont.
“He worked a lot, but in one sense he was always surrounded by family because that’s how he made you feel, like you were family to him,” said Michael Biagi, director of Parking & Transportation. “He drew you in with his spirit.”
Much of Manlapaz’s biological family resides in his native Philippines, but the distance didn’t lessen his impact on them. He passionately encouraged his circle of family and friends to further their endeavors, and he even quietly funded multiple cousins’ opportunities to attend college, including one who now works at the Australian Embassy there.
“He never even told me he was doing this. I just found out because my sister and brother told me about his ‘scholar kids’ in the Philippines,” said Carmelina Curtis, Manlapaz’s mother. “When I called some of the parents of people he went to school with to tell them about his death, they were shouting on the phone to me, ‘I lost my son.’ He was like a son to a lot of people.
“Even in the Philippines, my brother has helpers who work in the garden and he told me, ‘This is how well loved Mark is – even they were crying.’”
When he was 13, Manlapaz, an only child, moved with his mother and father from the Philippines to California. He learned English by reading the dictionary.
Manlapaz was a Boy Scout and later a cadet. He lived a well-organized life, and it wasn’t a surprise that he pursued a career in law enforcement, dedicating his life to public service.
His father died when Manlapaz was 15 and, though the high school student was accepted to colleges as far away as the East Coast, he chose Cal Poly Pomona in part because he wanted to be there for his mother.
“Everyone can say they’re a good person, but it was different with Mark,” said Johnny Lai, marketing coordinator for University Housing Services and the University Police Department. “He just wanted to help people. He would look at you, and if you had that look in your eye, he’d say, ‘Let me help you.’”
Manlapaz’s desire to help others ran deep — whether it was the elderly neighbor he regularly drove to the grocery store or the high school friend whom he convinced not to commit suicide.
“Mark said he would make me proud,” Curtis said. “And he did.”