While patiently waiting for The Hobbit House to open and to begin his shift, he was sitting down, constantly looking and pressing keys on his phone as if conversing with someone. At first glance, one would think that he wouldn’t respond if they tried talking to him. He looked like a man with few words, a mysterious man with a small built. But, as they always say, what you see isn’t always what you get.
This hobbit is one to look forward to. Despite his stature, he never fails to amaze anybody with his talent, qualities, and story. With what he has, he contributes to what makes people come back to the Hobbit House, making the establishment known in the area. This is kuya Edward’s story.
Born and raised in a family of nine siblings, he is the only one born with dwarfism – a genetic condition which impairs the genes of a person in terms of height, making him a person with a short stature. To some, it may seem absurd, but actually it’s one-of-a-kind.
“Kasi sa amin, ako lang ang ganito, eh. Siguro dahil ako na ‘to,” he says. (Because in our family, I’m the only one looking like this. Maybe, because this is who I really am.)
Despite being the unique one among his siblings, he is still thankful about his state. He never fails to make ends meet for his family, even when it was a struggle for him. At 39 years old, he is a provider to his wife who is 6 months pregnant and with two kids.
He shares, “Yung asawa ko matangkad. Dalawa yung anak ko, yung isa matangkad, mana sa nanay niya, yung isa sa akin.” (My wife is tall. I have two kids, one is tall like his mother and one is like me.)
Working in The Hobbit House for 23 years now, he still remembers how he stumbled upon the institution, the impressions and the memories he had working for them.
“May kaibigan ako na nagsabi sa akin. Siya yung nagdala sa akin dito,” he recalls. “Nung nakita ko ‘to, siyempre nagulat ako. Akala ko kasi kaunti lang kami, tapos ‘yun pala may katulad ng Hobbit House na marami akong kasama,” he adds. (My friend told me about this and also brought me here. When I saw it, I was surprised. I really thought we were just a few but then I found a place like the Hobbit House and more friends.)
Hobbit House Manila is a bar situated in Ermita where kuya Edward and more people with dwarfism work as servers to their customers. This is what makes them stand out among other bars in the vicinity. This offers work opportunities for people like kuya Edward to provide for the needs of his family.
So what is his favorite memory with his co-workers?
“Yung favorite memory ko dito siyempre yung masaya kami palagi, yung nagkasama-sama kami,” he relates. (My favorite memory here is when we were always happy, when we’re together.)
Despite this, there were also times that he had differences with his co-workers. But, he never lost his spirit to continue working there because more bonds were deepened rather than poison trees planted.
After working as a waiter for 23 years, he says that he never had an instance when he felt like he wanted to give up. He said that maybe that was how he lasted for more than twenty years in the business.
Even if people are amazed by this man’s features, some people are still indifferent and continue to criticize him for how he looks. Despite the insults, he serves as an inspiration for people like him because of his courage and resilience to withstand the criticism.
“Para sa akin, sanay na kasi ako sa ganun na tawag sa amin. Pero ang sa akin lang, wag nila kaming sasalingin, yung masasaktan kami. Iba na kasi ‘yun eh.” He says on people who judge him. (For me, I’m already used to what people call us. Just don’t hurt us physically.)
He considers his physique a blessing because, according to him, it is God who creates a person and they have no fault for looking the way they are. Also, he said that it will always depend on the person on how he will live his life. For him, it’s also a blessing because he found a job in the Hobbit House that he considers his family.
Moreover, people may not be aware, but kuya Edward has also been sidelining as an entertainer and actor. He and his friends do cameo roles in some movies and television shows. They have starred in various all-time favorite teleseryes with hobbits, like Engkantadia. He makes people proud because simple as it may seem, to him it’s another means to make ends meet for his family.
His coworkers also feel the same way towards him as they see him every day for work. They feel his warmth as a friend, a father and a husband.
“Nakikita ko yung sarili ko sa kanya. Mahal namin ang mga pamilya naming kaya lahat papasukin namin para maibigay yung pangangailangan nila,” Ate Lorna, the assistant manager, shares. (I see myself in him. We love our families very much so we will do everything to provide for them.) “Hindi naman makatotohanan kung sasabihin ko na wala kaming hindi pinag-aawayan, pero ang mahalaga naman inaayos naming ito agad para hindi na lumaki,” she adds. (I would be a hypocrite if I say that we don’t have differences among ourselves, but what’s more important is that we deal with them straightaway to avoid more complications.)
“Okay siya. Napakabait niya. Siguro kasi pare-pareho kaming may pamilya rito, kaya ramdam namin yung pagmamahal ng isa’t isa,” Ate Mary Ann, the general manager, reveals. (He’s okay. He’s very kind and caring. Maybe because, we all have families here that’s why we feel the love from each other.)
Given these, what is his advice to everybody?
“Ang masasabi ko lang, yung mga walang kapansanan, sana wag nilang laitin yung ibang may mga kapansanan. Kung lalaitin niyo siya, sana huwag na lang kayong magsalita kasi ‘yun na siya eh. Nasasaktan din naman kami,” he expresses. (All I can say is, to those who don’t have disabilities, do not judge those who have. If you will just judge him or her, stop because that’s what he or she is. Mind you, we also get hurt.)
After talking to Kuya Edward, one will feel a mix of emotions because of the amazing stories and pieces of advice he has shared. He might not be a man of many words, of a tall stature, but his big heart can certainly encourage others to be like him.
Kuya Edward’s story is definitely one of the most heartwarming and inspiring story which may be brushed off quite often. People may think this is a common “I’ve been bullied but I will not be ashamed of what I am” story, but truth is, this is more than what meets the eye. He believes that everyone should be given a chance to prove themselves and to provide the needs of their families without being hindered by their disabilities.
People, even without disabilities, cannot say that they have no insecurities. All have insecurities, whether be it physically, mentally, or emotionally. This, is the true disability of a person. It’s up to him or her to be hindered by the insecurities, or to use them as an inspiration to do better.
Lastly, one cannot judge others for what they see physically. They have to know the person for who he really is because beneath these layers of skin is a much deeper meaning of the body, the soul. May kuya Edward’s story remind each and every one to be more loving and selfless, because that should be man’s purpose.