Ernesto D. Manalo was born on July 22, 1936 in Sampaloc, Manila, the eighth of ten children born to Simplicio and Gervasia Manalo. As a child, he preferred to stay indoors and busied himself with reading or listening to music, an opportunity provided by the wide and varied collection of books, records, and art pieces of his writer-critic-brother, Armando Manalo.
Jose Garcia called him "one of the most important Filipino postwar writers" and included him in Doveglion. Manalo's work has been collected into Selected Poems, Memorial Edition, prefaced by the poet and introduced by Petronilo Bn. Daroy, with drawings by the poet's brother, Noel Manalo. It was published posthumously in 1965. He also has an unfinished autobiographical novel, "The Sorrows of Ernesto." He died at the age of 26.