Jonathan Manalo had just finished college when he won the grand prize at the 2001 Himig Handog Song Festival for a tune he wrote, “Tara Tena,” which Sam Concepcion interpreted.
In 2003, his entry, “Buti Na Lang” (sung by Kyla), placed third at the Metropop Song Festival.
Manalo said he was a member of the church choir in high school, though he didn’t study music formally.
Instead, he finished Advertising, magna cum laude, at Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
ABS-CBN hired him and he’s currently creative director of its record label Star Music. He is credited for writing the Pinoy Big Brother theme “Pinoy Ako,” as well as hits for Gary Valenciano (“Ililigtas Ka Niya”), Aiza Seguerra (“Para Lang Sa ’Yo”), Itchyworms (“Kabataang Pinoy”), Piolo Pascual/Sarah Geronimo (“Paano Ba Ang Magmahal”) and Angeline Quinto (“Patuloy Ang Pangarap”).
He has likewise produced over 200 albums for various artists, with 75 multiplatinum and 100 gold certifications from the Philippine Association of the Record Industry, and numerous awards from various local and international organizations.
Manalo’s passion for music has led him to partner with ABS-CBN talents Enchong Dee and Joshua Garcia in putting up Academy of Rock, a music school and recording studio in Quezon City.
The business venture also includes Priscila Teo-Lim, Kristine Lim, Rox Santos and Junior Gan as investors.
“I am actually an introvert. My hobby is biking by myself,” Manalo said, but added he’s also an empath, a science fiction term for a person with the paranormal ability to know the mental or emotional state of another individual.
Some songs he has written, he said, were due to his being an empath.
He recalled that as early as age five, he was already attuned to the songs he would hear on the radio. “I would sing them with new words,” he said, adding that his parents “used to catch me singing my own nursery rhymes.”
Manalo said he is working on various passion projects, including an all-star double album to celebrate his 20th anniversary in the music industry, and a musical series, “Lyric & Beat,” to feature all his compositions.
He’s likewise preparing an anniversary concert this October and a special collaboration project with Kristine Lim, who’s a visual artist.
Way to go for the man dubbed Mr. Music.