San Manuel is a small developing town traversed by the MacArthur Highway as it winds to the north. It is found at the tip of the Province of Tarlac jabbing like a pointed horn into the province of Pangasinan but dropping like a bead of precious water into the vastness of the province. Yet, from a vantage point above, it looks like a shape of a previous marquise; hence, San Manuel may as well be referred to as the jewel of Tarlac.
Most of the people in San Manuel, just like most of those in the northern part of Tarlac, trace their roots from the Ilocos region which was a consequence of the Ilocano Diaspora, the Ilocanos’ propensity to migrate in search for the proverbial “greener pasture”. Moreover, early Ilocanos from nearby Pangasinan move southward and those from Zambales, eastward to discover a vast plain of lush forests, rich waterways and teeming wildlife which they transformed into parcels of farms. Out of bright hope, they decided to stay for good and settle as one community they named later on as San Manuel.
San Manuel traces its early political roots as “a Sister Municipality of Moncada” during the governorship of Don Manuel De Leon who sponsored its official creation and in whose honor the new town was named after. In another account, Ilocano migrant, Victoriano Castro, led to petition the Tarlac government to declare their settlement a town of its own in 1909.