He finished his elementary school in his hometown and his high school in San Fernando where he became the editor-in-chief of his school's newsletter, the La Union Tab. He was also an athlete where he became champion in swimming events he joined.He entered the University of the Philippines where he joined the UP Writers Club and later became the president and the editor of the UP Literary Apprentce. He finished Education in 1933. He married Lydia Villanueva, a fellow artist and writer and lived in Ermita, Manila.Upon graduation, he practive his profession in University of Manila. He later joined the Bureau of Public welfare where he was the editor of Welfare Advocate, the bureau's publication.As a writer, his famous works were compiled in a book entitled How my Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife (And Other Stories) published by Philippine Book Guild in 1940. These stories were written when he was 22-29 years old. This collection of stories won first prize in short story category during the first Commonwealth Literary Contest in 1940.
When the Japanese invaded the country in 1941, Arguilla join the freedom forces of the country and led a division of the Marking's Guerillas. He was captured by the Japanese in 1944 and was imprisoned in Fort Santiago together with his family. His family was later freed but Manuel was sentenced to death. He was executed on October 1944 at age of 33.
Manuel Arguilla, an Ilocano pride. His shown love to the country as a teacher, a writer, and a freedom fighter was a virtue of patriot who offered his talents and life for the country.