Senator Tan was born in Ormoc, Leyte on November 4, 1893 to Pablo Tan and Rosalia Salvatierra de Fan.
He attended the public school of his hometown, the Colegio de San Carlos, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Manila High School and the University of the Philippines. He is a holder of the degree of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws and was admitted to the bar in 1915.
He entered politics when he was elected municipal councilor of Ormoc, Leyte and later became a representative to the Philippine Legislature from 1928 to 1935 and on November 1938 he was elected representative for the same district from 1938 to 1941.
He was married to the former Miss Isabel Mirasol of Jaro, Iloilo.