One Bar to Rule Them All

It was a peculiar pub in the heart of Manila, a tiny nook in the big city, a seemingly insignificant crevice that was hard to see. Yes, it was there and yet, in a forest of skyscrapers, it was nowhere. Who knew that to step through its door would be to step through a portal?

Down the hobbit-hole

The Hobbit House, a Tolkien-themed bar founded in the 1970s by Irish-American Jim Turner, is that quaint abode. Despite being hidden deep within Malate, it stands out in the district, in the metropolis, and even in the world as a bar run by larger-than-life little people.

The entrance itself is a big, bright, circular door characteristic of hobbit-holes with a standee of Gandalf who, ironically, is inviting you to pass and step into an adventure only offered by the homely bar. Upon entering The Hobbit House, it feels as if you are transported into Frodo’s very own dwelling. Decorations inspired by The Lord of the Rings (LotR) litter the inside. Colorful paintings of fantastic creatures are hung on every wall and wondrous trinkets fill the shelves, seemingly put there by actual hobbits. With whimsy in every corner, the place can tickle anyone’s imagination.

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The real heart of the experience though comes not in the grandiose adornments but in small packages—the people of small stature who embrace the pub’s namesake. These tiny fellows afflicted with dwarfism, a condition that stunts growth, offer visitors sweet smiles and wait on them for the night. Some even sing or do stand-up comedy on stage. Coupled with the overall atmosphere, it’s as if J.R.R. Tolkien’s works were made manifest by a rift in reality.

A cult following

The pub is usually chock-full with customers once the sun sets, the bar opens, and the magic begins. It is the time when the gateway to Middle-earth unlocks and the line dividing fact from fiction disappears. Fans of LotR flock to The Hobbit House to experience an extraordinary night when their favorite characters come to life before their very eyes. Even people who are unfamiliar with the series visit the place for its novelty.

Christine, an avid reader of LotR who was visiting for the first time, was in awe at what she described as a “surreal experience.” “It is amazing to be here. It’s like I’m inside my favorite novels!” she said. Meanwhile, Matthew, a Hobbit House regular, shared that while he wasn’t a die-hard fan of Tolkien’s works, he sure was of The Hobbit House. “I’ve only watched The Fellowship of the Ring and didn’t find it too good but this [The Hobbit House] really is something to come back to. It’s [a] unique place to chill.”

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The patrons of The Hobbit House vary from the usual bar-goers to entire families complete with children. Albeit gleaming bottles of liquor line the counters, The Hobbit House remains a kid-friendly place. Matthew, who sometimes brings along his 11-year-old sister when going to The Hobbit House, explains, “She loves it here. To her, it’s like she’s in a fairy tale. She loves the food, especially the steaks. Even if there’s alcohol being served, the place isn’t too masama (seedy). Families regularly frequent the place anyway.”

The Hobbit House’s wide demographic of customers isn’t just limited to the average Joe though; even renowned stars are captivated by the place. Ed Sheeran, who wrote and sang I See Fire for the soundtrack of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, visited the bar after his concert in Manila last March. According to the staff, Sheeran, being a massive LotR fan, had a heck of a time and, in a humbling twist of events, asked for photos with them, the “hobbits,” instead of them asking for photos with him. Sam Smith, another LotR pundit and critically acclaimed singer, is also said to pay a visit this November after his concert.

In addition to the buzz generated by its slew of visitors, several local and international news channels such as CNN have covered the place and its crew of petite peeps. Indeed, the Hobbit House has gone a long way as a relatively humble bar tucked away amid a plethora of upscale hangouts.

More than just a bar

The fantasy-filled bar, having earned worldwide fame, now plans on broadening its business. “We envision The Hobbit House to expand more in the next 10 years to help more little people out,” Manager Mary Anne Crisostomo shared in an interview. New branches, with a second one in Boracay leading the forefront, are intended to be established not only for revenue’s sake but also for The Hobbit House to advance its cause of extending a helping hand to those of inadequate size.

Many vertically challenged people have been assisted by the pub. Crisostomo herself, standing no more than five feet, was practically raised by The Hobbit House. Her mother and father both worked there to put her through college and when she turned 18 she took the position of manager. Despite all else being the same apart from height, individuals with dwarfism often encounter problems when looking for a job because of discrimination. “Although they [the ‘hobbits’] are college graduates, they had a hard time looking for a place of employment,” Crisostomo sounded. Luckily, “The Hobbit House took them in and now they’re admired for their abilities regardless of their height.” Like the bar itself, these little people, in spite of being surrounded by towering figures, manage to outshine those larger than them.

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For Crisostomo and the rest of the “hobbits,” the Hobbit House is not just where they work. It’s a second family where their height is celebrated instead of being looked down on. A pub with a mission, The Hobbit House is more than a fleeting trend. It stands as a testament to the abilities of little people notwithstanding their lack of height. Beneath all the LotR gimmicks is a core value—equality for all—that it seeks to propagate. The Hobbit House takes the misconceptions about dwarfism and in the darkness binds them.

In addition to advocating that little people can do what big people can just as well, The Hobbit House also caters to the needs of the community. In its Beyond the Blaze fire relief fundraiser, the bar raised a hefty sum that it donated to the victims of a fire in Quiapo. The “hobbits,” living true to the nature of their pure-hearted fictional counterparts, plan to have more charitable projects like these in the near future.

It was a peculiar pub in the heart of Manila, one with a portal to Middle-earth as well as a portal to the reality of living as a “hobbit.”

With a one-of-a-kind concept, an abundance of loyal patrons, and a thrust for charity, The Hobbit House, though a tiny nook in the big city, stands tall in the urban jungle in opposition to the rigid notions of big and small. It truly is The One Bar to Rule Them All. But of course, that would be all for naught if it wasn’t for the amiable, diminutive folk who take pride in the name “hobbits”–they are the ones who hold the Rings of Power.

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23 comments

  1. Regina Rodriguez · October 8, 2015

    Oh this is brilliant. I love how the place was described. Really has the power to struck people with the words and pictures. I think what made me interested the most is that the pictures were limited but enough for people to get the idea and the vibe of the place. Makes them want to check the place out cause they wpuld obviously want to see more and for that to happen theyd have to check it out for themselves. Also it has something that really gives the people whod read this the power to imagine things for thenselves which is actually the goal of the place for the people and makes everything even much more interesting. Lastly i think this is a perfect trend feature. All in all this is great. 👏👏👏👏👏
    Job well done 👊

    Like

  2. Ciarys Saulog · October 9, 2015

    Your depiction of the place was very informative. It seems that people often visit the place to fill up their curiosity. The impression of others about dwarfism will completely change.

    Like

    • Stan Ambata · October 9, 2015

      The comment that Ciarys gave was indeed awesome.

      Like

  3. fionnaraine · October 9, 2015

    This is so amazing! The article itself brought me there. It’s more than just imagination, it’s experience. And the mentioned portal thing, I guess, this work is the portal itself because it felt like I was there for a few minutes. Great job!☺❤

    Like

  4. Jemi V. · October 9, 2015

    You’ve convinced me to run over to this place right away, no joke. This is an overall great article about a great place filled with great people, and I couldn’t be more hyped to actually visit this place and witness everything in the flesh. A+.

    Like

  5. Nicole Magallanes · October 9, 2015

    Wow. I didnt know there was such a place! It’s true that little people have a hard time finding jobs. The government should really implement laws that would ban this kind of discrimination. Your article really highlights their struggle. Very eloquent and entertaining too! I would like to visit this hobbit house one time and see it for myself. It really does seem like more than just a trendy hangout with its heartfelt advocacy. I hope more business would be like it, sending socially relevant messages.

    Like

  6. Elora Cambel · October 11, 2015

    I have got to go here 😵! I never knew there was a bar like this. Fan pa naman ako ng LotR haha 😂. Anyway, this article really aroused my interest and got my feet itching. I do hope they get to expand and help more little people though!
    On a side note, it’s good that the writer used a politically correct term for people with dwarfism. As someone who knows a little person herself, I know firsthand how they feel with misnomers like midgets, dwarves, rungs, etc. This article and The Hobbit House itself really helps shed light on the issue. MORE POWER!

    Like

    • Yanyan Montera · October 11, 2015

      Grabe naman piccy

      Like

    • Hazelle · October 11, 2015

      ❤ ❤

      Like

  7. Admiral Warren · October 11, 2015

    The informations given are totally impressive as to the advocacy of the group, I hope they will achieve more of what they want to accomplish and hope for better opportunities that everyone in their crew would receive. Also it was cool to hear that there would be a place for employment for people with height abnormalities and I hope they expand more into the vicinities of different region like Cavite, Nueva Ecija and many more.

    Like

  8. Keana Nerona · October 11, 2015

    Not an avid fan of LotR but this article made me so eager to visit this place! Never knew that a LotR themed bar exists. Everyone should read this article because it is enough to convince you to stop whatever you are doing and have pay a visit to the place 👏 Aside from being a good resto-bar, it is overwhelming to know that they are providing opportunities for people with dwarfism ☺️💕.

    Like

  9. Yanyan Montera · October 11, 2015

    This article changed my perception towards bars! It is a great place for fiction lovers, like me, to hang out. It also amazed me that they give job opportunities to people who have dwarfism, which is a great strategy to have more human resources which can make their business bigger and better. By the way, thank you for sharing this to us. It gave me an idea on where to spend my pastime together with my friends hahaha! 😀

    Like

  10. Joyce Cabral · October 11, 2015

    Very well written! I am not much of a LotR fan but reading this article made me want to visit this place! (and also read the series) I really liked how the place was described detail by detail, and also the workers there who were very hobbit-like in themselves. The appreciation of the little people and their story of helping others despite the discrimination they have received captured my heart! Even though the place is said to be a bar that opens the moment the sun sets, I adored the fact that it is child-friendly and open for everyone. Really, I ought to thank you, who wrote this for sharing this with us! Just reading this article made my heart skip with anticipation and excitement! I wonder what the real thing would be like!

    Like

  11. Lauren · October 11, 2015

    Although I’m not a fan of LotR, this article, with its descriptions and pictures, has convinced me to at least Google it (and the bar). From the start to the end, the writer consistently gave vivid imagery. I mean, I wouldn’t have noticed if the pictures were missing! What was more impressive is the delivery of topic. With a memorable writing style, he was able to spread awareness about dwarfism. Keep up the brilliance! 😀

    Like

  12. Jonathan Paderon · October 11, 2015

    I didn’t know about the place before reading this article, and now I want to visit!! The descriptiveness of the writing style made it easier to imagine the place, and addition of pictures was very useful, allowing the readers to see what the place actually looks like.

    Like

  13. thefamilian · October 11, 2015

    This is awesome!

    Like

  14. Hazelle · October 11, 2015

    Yaaaay! Now I know where to hang out! (Hahaha apihin sarili) Kidding aside, thanks for making us aware of this wondrous place where little people are not discriminated. Not a fan of LotR, but your article made me want to know their world! So informative with the cutie details of both LotR and the place. Hoping that because of your article, that is written very well, more people would be familiar with this place and the good deeds for little people, fire victims, and other charities done by the people in this bar be known throughout the country!

    Like

  15. Kristine Prudente · October 11, 2015

    Well, I gotta say this is quite fantastic. I think I heard about this place before. I haven’t experience it yet, but maybe if I visit Manila again, then probably there is a chance for me to see what it’s all about. And this was absolutely great. It seems that you know how to add pretty good details to the article.

    Like

  16. Jazel Dragon · October 11, 2015

    The title of this article is so catchy “One Bar to Rule Them All”, it is an intelligent way of capturing the reader’s attention. Your article was informative enough and few pictures were shown but it doesn’t stop the imagination of your readers. Though you did not feed all the information about the place, the words used was enough to make readers wonder and imagine the idea of the place. Also, the description and words you used served as a portal to take your readers in the said bar. The bar doesn’t provide only happiness for its costumers but life and hope for their employees. Lastly, your conclusion was very impactful. It left a strong message with me. Good job 👍😊

    Like

  17. Jazel Dragon · October 11, 2015

    By the way, loved the lord of the rings references like in the darkness binds them, rings of power, one ___ to rule them hehe

    Like

    • Jazel Dragon · October 11, 2015

      By the way, loved the lord of the rings references like in the darkness binds them, rings of power, one ___ to rule them hehe so witty ❤

      Like

  18. Andee A. · October 11, 2015

    I love the title! I’ve never heard of this place before but after reading this article, it sure makes me want to visit!

    Like

  19. Angeles A. · October 12, 2015

    You did great in defining the place’s ambiance and exposition! It’s as if you’re giving a first-hand tour to your readers. Definitely one of the places to go in Metro Manila whether you’re a LoTR fan or not. It really is a place of little people who are larger than life itself. Great Job bro!

    Like

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