The town of San Manuel is a typically rustic community located at the northernmost tip of the Province of Tarlac. Heading north along the main National Highway going to the general direction of Baguio City and Ilocos Region, it is the last town of Tarlac before entering the town of Carmen of the province of Pagasinan. The Province of Nueva Ecija bound its eastern portion while the southern side is the municipalities of Anao and Moncada of the Province of Tarlac. The municipality is known for their Buridibud (kind of vegetable stew) festival
When the prosperous barrio of San Jose was separated from the town of Moncada to be proclaimed a sister municipality 1909, the inhabitants were jubilant and graceful. They renamed it “San Manuel” in honor of their benefactor, the late Don Manuel de Leon, who lost no time in sponsoring its creation.
San Manuel was, as other developing town, originally covered with dense forest, lakes and creeks. Wild animals roamed into the wilderness. Adventurous people from Zambales and Pangasinan and later those from the Ilocos region settled into the area to start a new life. Clearing the area with crude implements, they planted corn and upland rice supplementing daily food with meat from deer and wild hogs caught from the nearby forest.
Formerly, the residents of this barrio did not know which jurisdiction they belonged. There are four towns surrounding the area namely: Moncada in the south; Anao and Cuyapo in the east and Alcala in the north. Neither of these duly organized municipalities claimed the sprawling area. However, an incident in the barrio helped the people solved the “jurisdiction” problem. A man gathering bees fell from the tree and died. The people immediately reported the incident to the nearby localities but only the Moncada authorities came and investigated the incident. Spurred by the gestures of the people of that town, they joined and submitted themselves under their jurisdiction and finally became an integral part of Moncada.