He was born in Tolosa on 29th December 1899 and died in San Sebastián on 12th May 1993. He started his studies in his home town, before moving on to Santander Industrial School. In 1917 he was admitted to the Bilbao Higher Technical School of Engineering. In 1923 he obtained the title of Industrial Engineer.
He started work at the CAF company, where he was the technical manager of the departments of laboratories, foundry, steel furnaces and lamination. The Laborde family went on to establish a family business in Andoain in 1926. Manuel was appointed the managing director of this new company. The building in which the Laborde brothers set up their business in Andoain is a masterpiece of rationalist architecture, and has been acknowledged as such by the Basque Government Ministry of Culture as it has been catalogued as a monument, alongside the Real Club Náutico in San Sebastián. He later formed part of the Board of Directors of a hard metal company and of another machine-tool company based in Villabona.
He was one of the first members of the “Amigos de Aralar” group, from 1927. He was one of the founders of the ARANZADI Scientific Association in 1947. He had a particularly good relationship with the first Chairperson of Aranzadi, Tomas Atauri, and with the first Secretary, Jesús Elósegui, and he collaborated with them on many research projects.
In the year 1952, he had a decisive intervention, along with Jesús Elósegui from ARANZADI and Ziriquiain-Gaiztarro from Amigos del Pais, to enable Jose Miguel Barandiarán to come back to the Southern Basque Country after his time in Sare. He had a close relationship with Barandiarán and Manuel Lekuona.
In 1963 he was appointed a member of the executive committee of the department of nuclear technology at the Bilbao Higher Technical School of Industrial Engineers. From 1969 onwards he was a member of the Technical Board of the LUCAS MALLADA geological research institute. He was also a member of the Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País / RSBAP [Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country].
He published a long list of articles about geology, mining, metallurgy, forges and prehistory in the ARANZADI journal “MUNIBE” , in the RSBAP newsletter and in other magazines. The discovery of two dolmens, fourteen steles and the MARIZULO prehistoric cave in Gipuzkoa are all thanks to him. He worked on the research for the ARANZADI digs, alongside Jesus Altuna, Tomas Atauri, Jose Miguel Barandiarán and Jesús Elósegui. He played an active role in many of the research projects carried out by Barandiarán and Altuna between 1960 and 1975, and apart from participating, he also provided his help. In those difficult years, apart from offering moral support, he even provided material help to carry out some of the research projects.
He was passionate about nature, agriculture, stamp collecting, iconography, painting and graphic art. He made an essential contribution to the excellent documentary “Guipúzcoa” by Pío Caro Baroja.
He was President of the Department of Physical Sciences, Chemistry and Mathematics at the Eusko Ikaskuntza from 1978 to 1980. In 1984 the Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País paid tribute to him at the Palacio Insausti in Azkoitia. In 1988 he was given the “Manuel Lekuona” award from the Eusko Ikaskuntza at the Provincial Council.
In the words of Juan Antonio Garmendia Elósegui, Manuel was a good, generous, kind, warm, honest and helpful man; he was a true gentleman. A man of his word.