National/World

Guinness names Filipino as world's shortest man

Monday, June 13, 2011
Junrey Balawing, center, smiles as he is measured by Guinness World Records adjudicator Craig Glenday, left, for the last of a series of measurements conducted at Sindangan Municipal Hall, Sindangan township, Zamboanga Del Norte province in Southern Philippines, Sunday June 12, 2011, his 18th birthday and coincidentally the Philippines Independence Day. Balawing was officially declared the worlds shortest living man with a measurement of 23.5 inches (59.93 centimeters) dislodging Nepals Khagendra Thapa Magar with a measurement of 26.4 inches.

Junrey Balawing, center, smiles as he is measured by Guinness World Records adjudicator Craig Glenday, left, for the last of a series of measurements conducted at Sindangan Municipal Hall, Sindangan township, Zamboanga Del Norte province in Southern Philippines, Sunday June 12, 2011, his 18th birthday and coincidentally the Philippines' Independence Day. Balawing was officially declared the world's shortest living man with a measurement of 23.5 inches (59.93 centimeters) dislodging Nepal's Khagendra Thapa Magar with a measurement of 26.4 inches. (AP Photo / AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

A poor Filipino blacksmith's son who stands less than 2 feet (60 centimeters) tall was declared the world's shortest man by Guinness World Records on his 18th birthday Sunday, sparking a celebration in his hometown.

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

Balawing measured 23.5 inches (60 centimeters) during the ceremony attended by about 100 villagers and journalists at the town hall. Guinness World Records representative Craig Glenday presented Balawing with official recognition of his status as the shortest adult man in the world, with the framed certificate nearly reaching the ears of the standing recipient.

Balawing, who wore 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.

Dozens of journalists descended on Sindangan, a fishing and farming town of 90,000 located about 450 miles (730 kilometers) south of Manila, to cover the event.

"Thank you," Balawing told the crowd in a local dialect which was translated by his father, Reynaldo. Balawing tried repeatedly before managing to blow out the candles on the cake and clapped heartily each time the crowd applauded. He was later heard saying "Kapoy," or "I'm tired."

Balawing - who is about the size of a toddler and has a child's demeanor - needs to hold onto something to stand because of weak knees. He was photographed propping himself up with empty Coca-Cola bottles, which were taller than his waistline.

Balawing's mother grew teary-eyed during the ceremony, saying she was happy with her son's instant fame.

Glenday said he was struck by Balawing's lively personality and constant smile.

"Although he's short, he takes that in stride," Glenday told The Associated Press. "He has this cheeky smile."

Aside from the Guinness certificate, the crown does not come with any cash award. Glenday said he hopes the international fame will bring in gifts and donations, particularly medical supplies to ensure Balawing's health.

Nobody could explain why Balawing stopped growing two months after his birth, his father said, adding that he first walked with help from his parents when he was 5 years old.

Sindangan Vice Mayor Bess Jagonio, a doctor, speculated that he may have had an endocrine or a birth-related defect.

Balawing's brother and two sisters are all average size.

His family said they tried to send Balawing to school but withdrew him after he distracted other children's attention.

Local officials got the idea of informing the Guinness records committee about Balawing from journalists who learned about his size. ---

Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Oliver Teves in Manila and cameraman Joeal Calupitan in Sindangan contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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