Download In the Guiness Book of World Records, the smallest person comes from Nepal.
But it’s in the Philippines where some of the smallest people have big dreams.
They want to build a “Dwarf City” – a place of their own, where they won’t be discriminated against by the rest of the world.
They also plan to make this city a Philippines tourist attraction.
They call themselves the ‘little people’ – Madonna Virola meets them in a club in Manila.
First you come to a round wooden door – inside images from the film “Lord of the Rings” are hanging on the wall. A musician is on stage.
Welcome to the Hobbit House – a theme bar based on JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novels, a realm marked by all things miniature.
Including the waiters.
The bar opened in 1973 and has hired little people as waiters since the beginning.
59-year old Pidoy Fetalino is the club’s manager.
He’s one meter tall and has been working here for more than 30 years.
“The Hobbit House helps us by providing work. The name ‘hobbit’ comes from the book “Lord of the Rings”. This is the place where little people help other little people. The population of people like me is increasing, but I’m among the few who has a stable job.”
There’s no official figure for the number of dwarves or little people in the Philippines, but they’re easy to spot in the capital – many of them come here to find work.
Unemployment is high and Hobbit House is one of the few places where being short doesn’t cut people out of a job.
Most other jobs, includling in regular offices and other clubs, have height requirements – many places prefer staff taller than 1 metre because they believe this creates a more welcoming appearance.
‘Little people’ are stereotyped in the entertainment industry – hired only as extras or human cannonballs.
Some of them are paid 20 per cent less than people of normal height.
The Hobbit House provided Christina Torralba her first job – she’s the cashier here.
She says the outside world is cruel.
”Outside, when walking around, people make fun of my being short. At first it hurt. Gradually, me and my fellow little people learn to live with it.”
She and her husband joined a group called the “Little People’s Association of the Philippines” which was established in the 1980s.
The group fell away after a while, but it was reactivated last year and now members hold regular meetings.
Their biggest dream is to create a “Dwarf City” – a place to live specially designed for little people, which later could also become a tourist attraction.
The site is ready – 6,000 square metres of uncultivated land near the town of Montalban.
Edward Vito is the group’s spokesperson.
”A wealthy benefactor took pity on us, so he gave us the land. But it’s still a grassy mountain now. We will build houses tailored to our size, we will put up a bar, a church, souvenir stores... but it will be very expensive!”
“Dwarf towns” have existed in the past – the most recent one is in the city of Kunming, China where houses are built in the shape of mushrooms and residents dress as a fairy-tale heroes.
When the Philippines’ “Dwarf City” is ready, many more little people are expected to join the group.
The government is considering whether to help out.
Ria dela Paz is Executive Secretary for the Home Development Mutual Fund – the government’s home loan agency.
Her office promises to help the dream come true.
”We will assist them in finding a developer to build the city for their community, as they wanted. The most important thing here is we will check the affordability level of each employee. That’s the very requirement we are asking from members of the group for us to determine how many units, how much they need to build that community. In return of the assistance, they will assist us by providing us all the necessary requirements for us to finance them.“
Christina Torralba can’t wait to see the new home for the Philippines’ little people become a reality.
”We’ve been renting a space in Manila for some time. With the right assistance, I believe we can succeed like any other person. We also wish to have financial assistance for a livelihood program, even if we start small.”
1) tourist attraction: tempat tujuan wisata
2) realm: dunia
3) human cannonballs: manusia meriam
4) cruel: jahat
5)reactivated: dihidupkan kembali
6) fairy-tale hero: pahlawan dalam cerita dongeng
7) dwarf: orang kerdil
8)loan agency: badan peminjam uang
9) livelihood: mata pencaharian
10) uncultivated land: tanah kosong
1) What is Dwarf City and why was it established?
2) What kinds of things can you find there and what do the little people do there?
03) How large is this city and in which other country can you find this similair place?
04) Which agency is helping them and what kind of assistance are they giving?
05) What are some of the hopes and dreams of these little people?