Manuel Jacinto was born in Manila in 1987 to a Filipino-Chinese family. In 1990, he, his parents, and his older sister emigrated to Canada, where they settled in Richmond, British Columbia, in the Vancouver metropolitan area. His Filipino background has remained a source of pride for Jacinto, and the actor has visited Manila since he left. He only wishes, however, that he had kept up with his Tagalog. “I used to be fluent, but I’ve lost most of my Tagalog because I didn’t practice growing up,” he told Inquirer.net. “It’s something I regret. But at least, I can still say the bad words.”
While Jacinto grew up in a hockey town and would later play a football nut in “The Good Place,” as a kid, he gravitated towards baseball and basketball. “When I was really young I wanted to either be a baseball player, superhero, or civil engineer,” the actor told Richmond Review in 2014. He eventually settled on the latter, studying civil engineering at the University of British Columbia.
Though Jacinto never built any bridges, he revealed the ways in which he has continued to apply his engineering background to acting. “I have a very [strong] right and left brain because of my engineering background,” he told Backstage. “I approach [auditioning] from a very analytical point of view.”