Junrey Balawing, an impoverished blacksmith's son in the southern Philippines, inexplicably stopped growing at age 5. Although he remained relatively healthy otherwise, he was pulled from his public school in order to avoid becoming "a distraction," according to the New York Post. For years, he lived in shame. But not today: On this day in history, Balawing's 18th birthday, he accepted the Guinness Book of World Records' title for World's Shortest Man, and he doesn't feel small at all. "Dozens of journalists" showed up at his little-known home city, a place with a population of 90,000, and Balawing marked the milestone with a feast of roasted pigs for reporters and neighbors alike. He stands at 23.5 inches, and he's damn proud:
"Thank you," Balawing told the crowd. He clapped heartily each time the crowd applauded.
Balawing's mother grew teary-eyed during the ceremony, saying she was happy with her son's instant fame. "Although he's short, he takes that in stride," she told The AP. "He has this cheeky smile."
We can all learn a lesson from this brave young man. Exactly what it is we did not quite figure out by press time.