By now, it is an oft told tale as to how former Peace Corps volunteer and college professor Jim Turner was so inspired by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books that he founded a bar called Hobbit House entirely staffed by “little people.” Since it opened in 1973 along mabini St., Malate, the bar has become so famous that it has since opened a branch in boracay.
From its original location in 1801 Mabini St., regulars now flock to its new site in M.H. del Pilar St., which is just a short walk away from the Ermita Church. The bar was moved to its new address in 2007.
Unlike the unassuming façade of its old building, Hobbit House can now be easily seen from the street with its huge mural, which features the lead characters of Tolkien’s book. Up front is a huge, colorful circular door. Once guests pass through the door, a bell will be rung to announce their entrance.
Inside its candle lit interiors, one can recognize the paintings of scenes from the Tolkien trilogy as well as posters of local folk legend, Freddie Aguilar. Compared to the tight space of its old quarters, Hobbit House’s new home is so much more spacious.
Pidoy Fetalino, on of the club’s old timers, says that the reason behind the move was that the landlord wanted to tear down the property. He admits that every time he passes by the old location, “Memories from the past would come flooding back.” Now all he wants is “for the bar to continue so that my children and their children will have a chance to experience it.”
Bringing the stage alive that evening were Pinoy rock legends, “The Jerks.” As it was in the old location, Hobbit House’s line up features an interesting mix of folk, rock, and blues plus a bit of jazz and reggae. The current performers include top rated solo acts and bands such as Maegan Aguilar, Blue Rats, and Marc Velasco. Of course, Freddie Aguilar still performs here every Monday and Friday night.
Upon entering, some of the customers would go straight to the bar area, its shelves lined with an extensive array of liquors and spirits. You can find everything here from Vodka to Tequila to the local coconut liquor known as “Lambanog.”
If you find the choices overwhelming, you can start off with a beer. Not only do they stock the standard San Miguel beer, they also offer imported beers such as Harp Irish Lager, Duvel and in fact, over 150 kinds of beer, ale amd cider are available. There is also a long list of cocktails and mixed drinks available. But if you’d rather not wake up with a hang over, you can opt for one of their fruit shakes.
To go with your drink, the menu offers a mix of local and western specialties such as Pinoy style beef steak, New York Cut steak, and Tomato basil and garlic pasta. The staff recommended that I try their popular Taquitos which are mini tacos perked up with a sweet, slightly spicy salsa. I also tried the English Sausages with mashed potatoes. The sausages were meaty, nicely spiced and cooked just right. They had the right tenderness but not oily. It was served with an interesting salad of tomato, feta cheese and jicama on the side. It was above average bar chow if you ask me.
If the action here is getting to much for you, you can take a breather by heading to the “Remembrance, Ye Olde Bistro” located just next to the stage. The area is sort of like a den or a “chill-out-room” for the club’s regulars (but anyone can enter). Unlike the décor in the rest of the club, this den looks more like a private men’s club. The walls are lined with century. This is one of the bar’s most popular gathering areas.
But Hobbit House would be just another bar in Ermita were it not for the little people. Friendly, charming and ever smiling, they are the reason why the bar is what it is today. Every night, you will find them gamely posing for yet another round of photos with tourists and travelers, giving folks back home something to talk about.
Everything is already in place for the Hobbit House to continue where it left off. While it may not have the same intimate atmosphere as in the previous location, given time, the bar will develop its own unique ambiance. When it manages to do so, it will fulfill Pidoy’s vision to see the bar continue on to the next generation. Daily 5pm-2am Manila 1212 M.H. del Pilar cor. Arquiza St. (Arquiza Trade Center) Ermita 521-76-04 17D.
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-holeThe 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.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 followingThe 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.”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 sangI 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 barThe 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.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.
A Hole in Ermita
Posted on 11 Days Ago by alissandraranola
Red-light district, a place where houses of prostitution and other sex-oriented businesses are commonly rampant, is what is frequently associated with Ermita.
Ermita in Manila is the home of some of the country’s most popular landmarks such as the Rizal Park which is commonly referred to as Luneta, Manila Ocean Park, and the National Museum of the Philippines. It is also where many educational institutions are located like the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM).
It may just be like any other district in the city of Manila during the day, but it really comes to life when the sky turns dark.
In Ermita, many night clubs and bars are found where these “sex-oriented business” takes place.
But despite this not-so-decent image people have for Ermita, it is also the home of places even people of younger age can go to just like the Hobbit House.
When we went to the Hobbit House. It was already late in the afternoon but just like any other establishment in the district it was just beginning to be filled with customers.
When we arrived at our destination we were immediately welcomed by two midgets at the front door.
It really shows how they really value their crew members because of the poster outside which in which all of the crew are there dresses in costumes and with the background of something that is really related to The Hobbit and this same picture is also used in front of their menus.Hobbit House displays a poster of the hobbits working as a way of valuing them
After all the pleasantries we headed to the door. The door was something that really impressed me, it was something that really looked like it would transport you to another world.The door mirrors an image of a roulette
Once we entered the establishment, we were greeted by many pictures and paintings of dwarves from the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and the novel and movies The Lord of the Ring. There are also some actual pictures of some midgets.Pictures of hobbits greet you as you go inside to fit into the theme morePictures of actual midgets are also displayed
The interior is just like any other bar in the area. It is filled with round tables, has a bar area on the side and a stage where singers may they be popular or not can perform.The bar is also like any other bar, with various drinks to suit the customers’ taste
The place it lit by lamp-like chandeliers which adds to the hobbit theme of the place but also to the atmosphere because it is dimly lit.the lamps add to the Hobbit House theme of the bar but the dimly-lit lights also add to the bar-like atmosphere
There are also statues of midgets around the place.
There were already many customers in the place when we went there and I saw how there were many kinds of customers that enter this establishment. There are a group of friends wherein one is a foreigner and there were also a family which consist of the parents and even their children. This only showed how the Hobbit House is appropriate not only to older people but even to the younger ones.Different groups of people go to the Hobbit House to unwind after a long week
But what will really catch your attention are the crew which consists of almost all midgets, who will serve you the whole duration of your stay. They will serve you with smiles on their faces and warmth in how they interact with their customers.
Miss Mary Ann Crisostomo, the general manager of the Hobbit House, said that the place is often visited by not only typical tourists but also some local and even international personalities, like our very own president, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the international singer, Ed Sheeran.
The Hobbit House, despite being located in a red-light district, has a very socially significant advocacy; they hire there crew whom are all midgets to help them too.
The Hobbit House hires their midget workers not only for business but they also help this people have jobs despite the discrimination they usually experience because of them being small in stature.
This establishment wants to help more people like them to be able to support themselves and their own families through giving them the opportunity to work.
As the business grows, like the branch that they opened in Boracay, they are able to help more people who are in the same place as their current employees. People who are experiencing discrimination and are sometimes are hindered of their right to work.
So by going to the Hobbit House, people doesn’t only experience a good time but they are in a way also helping these people have a more decent life rather than what they current have just because they can’t work because of their appearance when, in fact, they are very capable of doing work to support themselves.
These “hobbits” are not only an inspiration for the owner to establish a unique business but also to us common people. They inspire us that our physical appearance doesn’t define who we are and what we are capable of doing. They show how they can function like any ordinary person.
And that is what really struck me, how they were able to smile genuinely to people who sometimes look at them indifferently.
The Pillar of the House
Posted on 11 Days Ago by earlbalayan
Who is the genius behind The Hobbit House?
A bar that has received international acclaim, which has been visited by famous artists like Ed Sheeran to our very own commander-in-chief, Noynoy Aquino, and has also been featured in several international news channels such as CNN and the like.
The Hobbit House is a bar located at 1212 Arquiza Trade Center M.H. Del Pilar St, Ermita, Manila. Former Ex-Peace Corps Volunteer Jim Turner found the bar, and gave an interesting concept by basing the bar on J.R.R Tolkien’s book, The Lord of The Rings which he read when he was a boy. He started the bar to help little people, but now the bar has become more.The Hobbit House, one of the best bars in Manila, has quickly reached the top of the standings. The manager, Mary Ann Crisostomo, perhaps is the person mainly responsible for this, her leadership, strategy and wisdom may be the key to help other establishments succeed.
“Ability is what’s important, height doesn’t matter,” she proudly says. Some of the staff of The Hobbit House has been rejected by other establishments due to the fact that they are short; even though they possess the same credentials as others like a college degree, experience, etc. Mary Ann gave them a place to work, for she believes that one’s ability to do things is the only thing that matters. Because of this, the staff of the bar also considers this their second home like her.But, how did she rise to the heavy position which she is in now? Her story, like most, has a humble beginning. It began when she started working for The Hobbit House at the tender age of eighteen and was her very first job, now working for the bar for nearly thirty years now. “The bar represents more than just a place of work for me, but a second home,” she says. Her father and mother also worked at the bar making The Hobbit House very close to her heart. Her love and loyalty to the bar is well within her roots.
Mary Ann loves working at The Hobbit House. She states, “The ambience that the bar gives and talking with the staff and the customers is what I love most about the bar.” By engaging with the different customers who enter the bar, The Hobbit House has developed a homey and hospitable atmosphere which reflects a classic Filipino home, which is known to the entire world. Her caring and kind-hearted nature serves as a shining example to all the members of the bar to emulate the same type of caring and kind-hearted nature that Mary Ann has to everyone who enters The Hobbit House.
Mary Ann Crisostomo wishes to see The Hobbit House to grow and expand. The branch of the bar in Boracay is a testament to this. The branch of The Hobbit House in Boracay, which is based on the original one in Manila, is just one of the many branches that she dreams to rise. In the next ten years, she hopes to see more branches of the bar rise all across the Philippines.
With the success that The Hobbit House has earned, this dream is certainly possible. “The concept of the bar is what sets it apart from other bars in Manila,” she modestly says. Indeed the concept of The Hobbit House is distinct since no other bar in the world has this motif. It undeniably deserves its name on one of the tourist spots in the Philippines. Different celebrities and international figures have frolicked into The Hobbit House and they will surely continue to visit. The colourful design, unique concept and irreplaceable hospitality that the bar offers makes it one of the best establishments in the world.With this in mind, The Hobbit House has excellent and even five star reviews. However, that is not the only case. The reviews and critiques that people have made across the web are inconclusive, their ratings range from horrible to excellent. Although most of the reviews have one similarity, all of them found the service and the overall atmosphere of the bar to be excellent, without a doubt, one of the factors is Mary Ann.
The world is brimming with different types of leaders, bosses, and managers. Some let their employees do the task needed to be done and not supervise at all. Others make their decisions alone and do not request the input of their subordinate. However, Mary Ann Crisostomo is not like every other leader, boss or manager in the world. She chooses to lead by example, showing the staff how to engage the patrons how to do the job well, instead of telling them how. Her devotion, compassion, and determination are definitely something other leaders, bosses, and managers should try to mirror. Because of her, The Hobbit House is full of little people with giant hearts.
Small Man, Big Heart
Posted on 11 Days Ago by Beloved Abigail Madlangbayan
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, likeEngkantadia. 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.