THE HOUSE OF
June 2019 Update
A COTTAGE SHOWCASE AND RESOURCE CENTER
BALBOA PARK, SAN DIEGO CALIFORNIA
The Chamorro Optimist Club San Diego is an affiliate of Optimist International, an international service organization. Founded in 2015, the Chamorro Optimist Club San Diego seeks to promote awareness of the Chamorro people, indigenous to the islands of the Mariana Islands including Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
As a program of the Chamorro Optimist Club, the House of Chamorros was established in 2016 as a 501(c)3 non-profit and accepted as a full member of the House of Pacific Relations (HPR) overseeing the International Cottages campus in Balboa Park. Simultaneously, the House of Chamorros (HOC) joined the New International Cottages Committee (NICC), established in 2006, which is made up of HPR members seeking to build their own cottages as an extension of the current International Cottages campus.
A House of Chamorros cottage is a unique opportunity to establish the first public and permanent structure representing the Chamorro people and culture.
Its situation in Balboa Park would expose Chamorro culture to more than 14 million visitors to Balboa Park each year.
The Chamorro Optimist Club and the House of Chamorros believe that establishing a House of Chamorros International Cottage will provide great visibility as well as a venue to educate on the importance of Chamorros and the Mariana Islands. This is especially relevant in San Diego where the largest concentration of Chamorros in the continental United States have settled.
The vision is to have a public space to welcome visitors interested in the beautiful people, culture and land of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Recognizing the richness and multi-ethnic diversity of modern day Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands, HOC’s efforts will be inclusive of the many non-Chamorros who have called the islands home, to re-connect them with the indigenous island spirit and culture of the Marianas.
The House of Chamorros cottage will be an important validation of the Chamorro culture for the generations of Chamorro diaspora that want to recognize
The House of Chamorros cottage will be an important resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the Marianas and its people, shoring up the lack of information in public education.
The House of Chamorros cottage will be a welcome center for the many thousands of military service men and women and their families who have a connection to the islands due to being stationed there at some time in their careers.
The original goal was to raise $300,000, with a minimum of $219,000 being necessary to build a cottage. Within two years, the House of Chamorros was successful in raising over $230,000. As the construction dates drew near, the more than ten year old construction estimates were updated. As a result, the House of Chamorros and all member of the NICC will now need to raise significant additional funds, a total of $500,000, in order to construct each cottage. The House of Chamorros is committed to continuing its efforts and making the House of Chamorros cottage a reality for the benefit of the Chamorro people, culture and land
and all who value them.
Balboa Park and the House of Pacific Relations (HPR) International Cottages
Balboa Park is the premier culture center in San Diego California. The entire park is established in an urban area that spans 1,200 acres. In addition to the many open spaces, gardens and walking paths, it contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
The park itself hosts approximately 14 million visitors annually. Most notably, the December Nights festival boasts 335,000 visitors in the two days and two nights of this annual event.
And in the middle of all this beauty, resides one of the Park’s major attractions, The House of Pacific Relations (HPR) and the International Cottages. The HPR is a consortium of “Houses” with physical cottages representing 19 different countries. The cottages were originally constructed for the 1935 World Exposition. Here you will find The House of Philippines, The House of Spain, The House of China, The House of Hungary, The House of Puerto Rico and The House of Italy,
just to mention a few.
Each cottage or House offers a window to each country’s history, culture, traditions and people. Along with showcasing each country’s unique heritage, the International Cottages serve as a resource for highlighting the cultural diversity that exists in our communities here in San Diego.
The HPR promotes multicultural goodwill and understanding through educational cultural programs. According to its bylaws, “The purpose of the House of Pacific Relations, International Cottages and its members is to create a spirit of understanding, tolerance and goodwill among the various national and ethnic groups represented in the community.”
The House of Chamorros as a member of
the House of Pacific Relations in Balboa Park
As of May 1st 2016, The House of Chamorros was established and recognized as an “Affiliate Member House" with the House of Pacific Relations (HPR) International Cottages at Balboa Park.
And as a currently approved affiliate member house of the International Cottages at Balboa Park, The House of Chamorros will echo the mission of HPR. Eugenie King, President of HPR, writes:
"Our esteemed organization was conceived during the darkest days leading up to World War II as a way to foster pacific (as in “peaceful”) relations among the many splintered ethnic groups during the 1930s. These groups included members of cultures from the Axis and Allies who were bitter enemies. Despite the hostility between the nations before, during and after the war, these cottages were able to peacefully coexist as non-political and non-sectarian cultural organizations. Coexisting in this manner in a small corner of the park, volunteering side by side, they shared their cultures -- music, dance, art, and food -- with each other and the community at large thereby increasing tolerance mutual trust and respect within and without the organization.
The message is the same today as it was in 1935. The HPR has grown over the years increasing from about 15 to the 33 different cultures that are represented today. Over the years, various Houses have formed and disbanded. Nonetheless, each has been able to share and learn with each other, leaving behind the political differences of their cultural heritages. With this mission of creating cultural understanding, we welcome cultural groups that spring from war-torn and strife-ridden corners of the globe as well as those from more peaceful areas.
Recently, there has been some criticism in the community of the fact that some “Houses” are not actual countries. This is understandable as many people equate a culture with a political entity, but it unfortunately misses the point. The “Houses” have no affiliation with the countries or regions for which they are named. They represent not the political entities, but their cultures. All are welcome in the HPR so long as they abide by our bylaws."
A Window of Opportunity
As written in San Diego Union Tribune articles, “The cottages are a cross between community centers and second homes, where members of each nationality meet and welcome each other and the public.”
Furthermore, “There’s something tangible about walking into a cottage. The House of Ireland, you walk in, you know you are back in Ireland, same with Poland, same with Norway, same with Sweden.
The cottage is designed like it is a home, not a museum. They are like living entities where you walk in and you feel the flavor of the personality and the experiences of that country.”
Currently, due to the demand and pressure for the past 10 years, the city of San Diego has approved for the construction of five new cottage buildings to be added to the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages area. Recent plans are for The House of the Philippines to occupy one stand-alone cottage building and the other four cottage buildings to be constructed as duplexes in which two country Houses will share the building.
“The crowning achievement for the House of Pacific Relations in 2015, however, would be the addition of five more International Cottages, which have been in the planning stages for nearly a decade.”
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
All International Cottages are able to showcase cultural art and information through their cottage programs. At a minimum, all cottages are required to open on weekend afternoons from 12pm to 4pm.Our Hosts will be able to answer questions, educate and interact with visitors.We can showcase our culture through art, music, dance and cuisine.Chamorro artists and craftspersons can be scheduled as resident artists to provide classes, demonstrations and sales of art on commission.
These programs are held on The House of Public Relations (HPR) Lawn stage and features performances from various cultural organizations.
Our Musicians and Dance groups showcase performances that express Chamorro Culture through song and dance.
March to October – Every Sunday 12pm – 4pm
Exhibits, Presentations and Workshops are held throughout the year at the cottage and other larger facilities in Balboa Park.
These events are provided by the Guma’ Chamorro members, volunteers, supporters, guest speakers and other related organizations.
Guam & Northern Mariana Islands Geography Overview
Guam & Northern Mariana Islands History
Chamorro Culture & Traditions
Chamorro Legends & Storytelling
Craftsman & Artisan Workshops
Cultural Dance Classes
Musical Instrumentation Classes
Film and Visual Arts
House of Pacific Relations
Ethnic Food Fair & December Nights
These two major annual events at Balboa Park feature cuisine from around the world.
Chamorro Cuisine, a unique blend of tastes from the Pacific Rim, among the most delicious in the world, offered for donations to generate annual operating funds.
Ethnic Food Fair held annually during Memorial Day weekend on the last week of May.
December Nights held annually during the first weekend of the Christmas month.
House of Pacific Relations Queens Organization
The HPR Queens Organization is an educational and cultural service organization for young women to represent their respective cottage.
Our young Chamorritas participate in community events and programs throughout the year.
LIFETIME LEGACY “Latte Wall” - $1000 and above
Exclusive Guma’ Chamorro Lapel Pin
Commemorative Keepsake Certificate
PERMANENT Engraved Name Plate on Wall of the Cottage
LIFETIME LEGACY “Maga’lahi Wall” - $5000 and above
All of the above, plus:
Lifetime Video Message on website
LIFETIME LEGACY “Marianas Wall” - $20K and above
All of the above, plus:
Choice of “activity” named after you, a business or an organization
Chamorro Optimist Club San Diego The House of Chamorros
P.O. Box 371218
San Diego, CA 92137