June 18, 2011

Guinness names Filipino as world’s shortest man

A poor Filipino blacksmith’s son who stands less than two feet (60 centimeters) tall was declared the world’s shortest man by Guinness World Records on his 18th birthday yesterday, sparking a celebration in his far-flung hometown.

The title was bestowed on Junrey Balawing in Sindangan in the southern Philippines, with Balawing’s parents, villagers and officials showering the coastal town’s newly famous resident with a feast, a cake, balloons and cash gifts.

Balawing measured 23.5 inches (60 centimeters) during the ceremony attended by about 100 villagers and journalists. Guinness World Records representative Craig Glenday presented Balawing with official recognition of his status as the shortest adult man in the world.

Balawing, who wore infant-sized shoes and a white shirt emblazoned with the Guinness seal, took over the title from Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal, who is 26.4 inches (67 centimeters) tall, Glenday said.

Sindangan, about 450 miles (730 kilometers) south of Manila, has not had so much attention in years – with dozens of journalists descending on this fishing and farming town of 90,000 to cover the event.

“Thank you,” Balawing told the crowd through his father, Reynaldo, who interpreted his son’s words spoken in a local dialect. Balawing blew the candles on a cake and clapped heartily each time the crowd applauded. He was later heard saying “Kapoy,” or “I’m tired.”

Balawing’s mother grew teary-eyed during the ceremony. She said earlier that she was happy with her son’s instant fame.

Glenday said he was struck with the lively personality of Balawing, who constantly smiled and appeared not to be hampered by his condition. Balawing – who is about the size of a toddler and has a child’s demeanor – was photographed propping himself up using empty Coca Cola bottles, which were taller than his waistline.
(Story courtesy of the Associated Press (AP)

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