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Volunteers work to ensure future of Balboa Park's House of the Philippines

Posted at 6:05 PM, May 18, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Balboa Park's House of the Philippines is a source of the Asian American Pacific Islander community's rich history and volunteers are working to ensure it’s around for future generations.

AnaMaria Labao Cabato, a founding member of the House of the Philippines, says the significance of the cottage goes far beyond its four walls.

"It’s part of my formation my way of being a Filipino American it helped me to embrace my cultural heritage," Labao Cabato said. She added that she, "remembers as a child, my parents were part of the group that painted the interior of the house to prepare it and start hosting each Sunday."

The House of the Philippines became one of the International Cottages in 1961 at Balboa Park. At the time, they shared a small space with the House of France.

Over the years, the House of the Philippines transformed into the pearl of Balboa Park, filled with exhibits revisiting different eras within Filipino history. The spot where visitors could watch beautiful performances showcasing traditional Filipino dances to getting a taste of Filipino food.

But, after several decades, the House of the Philippines outgrew its small space. Members within the community banded together to raise money to build a brand-new building. But, during the construction process, the pandemic hit.

"They couldn't stay on schedule and maybe I know they wanted to do more fundraising efforts. Things changed along the way," Labao Cabato said.

But they pushed forward and now they’re putting the finishing touches on the house, which is set to reopen this summer.

"It will be a celebration and it's a celebration that legacy continues. That a new generation is taking over to keep those realities of community going," Labao Cabato said.