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ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE — A Filipino teenager from the remote town of Sindangan in this Mindanao province has been certified the world’s shortest man by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Junrey I. Balawing, who is the size of a one-year-old toddler, was declared the world’s shortest adult man on June 12 on the day of his 18th birthday after Guinness World Records editor-in-chief Craig Glenday visited Balawing’s village to take the measurements.

“Officially he is the world’s shortest man,” Glenday said after measuring the boy at 23.6 inches — or just under two feet tall — in front of his parents and about 100 villagers and journalists.

Balawing has smashed the former titleholder, Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal, by nearly three inches (Magar is 26.4 inches tall).

The shortest man in history is held by Gul Mohammed of India, who was 22.5 inches tall and died in 1997.

Balawing does seem to have a sense of humor about things.

When Glenday asked him if he had a girlfriend, he said he didn’t, adding, “You fool! Don’t even ask!”

Local officials showered the coastal town’s newly famous resident with a feast, cake, balloons and cash gifts.

“Thank you,” Balawing told the crowd in a local dialect which was translated by his father, who is a blacksmith.

He blew 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’s parents said their son has not grown since he was a toddler and stopped growing when he was two years old.

The family is too poor to find out exactly what medical condition prevented him from growing taller.

“He needs my care every minute every day,” Balawing’s mother Concepcion, 35, told CNN.

“He can only walk with some help and he can’t stand for too long because he’s in too much pain due to his weak knees.”

 

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Doctors and other local health officials say an endocrine imbalance appears to be the cause of his condition.

According to the municipal health director for Sindangan, Balawing also suffers from lack of normal growth hormones.

“He can understand what you say to him, but he’s not that articulate,” said Dr. Lolita Hamry.

The boy’s speech is also stunted limiting his conversations to short phrases.

Balawing, who weighs 11 pounds, wore infant-sized shoes and a white shirt emblazoned with the Guinness seal when he underwent three sets of official measurements by the Guinness adjudicator to confirm his height.

Balawing’s father Reynaldo, 37, called his son “our lucky charm.”

The Balawings have another son (11) and two daughters (13 and 6), all of an average size.

Glenday of Guiness said he was struck by Junrey’s lively personality and constant smile.

“Although he’s short, he takes that in stride,” Glenday said.

“He has this cheeky smile.”

Aside from a 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.

“The previous record holder had been given medical care...he even had free surgery provided by the United States,” Glenday was quoted as saying. “So there are benefits to being a record holder.”

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

He has learned to write and draw and, when he can, he helps out at the family’s modest farmhouse, feeding their chicken.

Despite his size, Balawing has a healthy appetite, tucking in to chunks of breads and corn.

His fading green and white birth certificate — proving he was born in 1993 — takes pride of place in the family home.

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

In an interview posted on the Guinness website before his record was announced, Balawing was quoted as saying, “If I were the smallest man in the world, it would be very cool.”

 

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