Mayor Ace’s youthful days were never sunshine and roses, rather at a tender age he had felt the stings and adversities of an unkind life. But he persevered to reach for his star.
From the start he knew that he was born for a noble purpose, but in so young an age, he could not as yet decipher what Providence had for him. And this is what he was searching for, until he finally was able to discover the mission entrusted him,to serve.
Born on December 23, 1953 in Gerona, Tarlac, of impoverished parents, Isidro Manalang and Marina Roman, and humble beginnings, he made a self-imposed obligation to help and support his family, to the extent of sacrificing his dreams and aspirations. Though it was too difficult for him to receive formal education during his youthful age, still he managed to attend school and graduated valedictorian in the elementary level. He was an ambitious boy and he wanted to reach for the star, and again, he must look for a source of income to support his studies, while supporting his family. He became a balut vendor, hanging on buses, unconcerned of mishaps that may befall him, just to earn something to buy food for his family and to save some for his secondary education. He worked for a rich relative as an errand boy and did all the chores in the house, and upon noticing his desire to pursue his studies, this relative allowed him and supported him to get a secondary and tertiary education. But being a mere domestic worker was not his dream and aspiration, he wanted to conquer poverty and embark to a new world. He began vending fish, traveling from all corners of Luzon, sleeping in delivery trucks, carrying heavy loads of smelly fish which stick to his body and retailing them in public markets.
But being a naturally affectionate person, his world did not only revolve on how he could rise up from his financial distress, he yielded to the call and weakness of his heart and fell in love and married Bonifacia Mañalac. His wedding was a very romantic and most memorable day, and he vowed to make his wife the happiest woman in the world. Together they worked for their family’s future and they began expanding their fish dealership business. After 2 miscarriages, Allan, was born to the couple, who gave them all the happiness a couple could ever have.
After a few years in the business he was able to overcome the difficulties of his past life and lived comfortably well. Because of his love for youth concerns, he began forming youth organizations to serve the community. One of these was the Tarlac Youth Alliance, where the members were officers of local youth groups in their respective communities. He felt very ecstatic and gratified about the outcome of this service, and he decided to go on, until everyone was pushing him to public service for they have seen a most capable leader in his person. He started his government service from the barangay level, as barangay councilor, then barangay chairman, on to the municipal level as councilor and ultimately, he became the first City Mayor of Tarlac. His accomplishments as the Chief Executive of Tarlac City are beyond compare. Foremost of them all, is the conversion of the Municipality of Tarlac into a Component City. He takes pride that this is the most significant achievement he could ever have in his entire life. It cost him sweat, blood and tears, despair, bitterness and heartaches.
And if one wishes to sit down with him and ask him to relate how he was able to have the Charter of Tarlac City approved, by then Former Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, he only has to ask him and he will never tire talking about it.
Having completed his third and final term as mayor of the city of Tarlac, he was urged to run for governor in 2001 and for city mayor in the May 2004 elections by his friends and constituents. But due to some stroke of misfortune he lost both as per COMELEC counts and tabulations, but in the hearts of his friends and loyal constituents, he will forever be a winner.
And after all said and done, we hear him say, “I have no regrets for not making it at the May 2001 and the May 2004 elections. I know this is but part of the hurdles in life and a test of endurance at that, and I will endure as long as you are here for me. It is sincere service, determination and integrity, not strength and power, that makes a man. I can still serve mykabalens though I am not in the government service.”
Then on that fateful day, March 3, 2005, City Councilor Abelardo Ladera, met his untimely demise, creating a vacancy at the City Council. By party rules and procedures, Mayor Ace was nominated and appointed as the replacement of the late councilor on May 11, 2005. Service always finds its way.
Having emerged winner in the 2010 elections, as City Mayor, he is now continuing all the programs he wanted to accomplish since he assumed office in 1992.
Named “Father of Tarlac Cityhood”, he being the only mayor who succeeded in working for the cityhood of Tarlac, despite so many attempts by previous municipal mayors.