SAN DIEGO — The Chamorro Cultural Festival showcases the history of the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands.

“It’s a coming together and a celebration of our Chamorro language, our Chamorro culture, our Chamorro foods, our Chamorro arts,” Danny Blas, board chairman of CHE’LU, told FOX 5 at the event at CSU San Marcos.

CHE’LU stands for Chamorro Hands in Education Links Unity. The 2023 festival, held March 25, was the organization’s 11th annual event.

“The first thing you would sense is the smell of delicious food,” Blas continued. “The second thing you would sense is the sound of this music, of just joy and celebration. And then the third thing, you would see smiling people and you know you’re in the right place.”

“The Chamorro people are the people from the Mariana Islands, which includes the island of Guam, Tinian, Saipan, Rota,” Blas said. “For 4,000 years, these 15 islands were separated by thousands of miles. And we had a long history of sailing and seafaring — navigating using the stars, the winds and the currents.”

“Our Chamorro traditions are based upon family, faith, our language and love of family and love of gatherings, extended families, aunties and uncles,” Blas said.

“Our community’s message to the folks in the Mariana is that we miss you. That is home. And the reason why we have events like this is because of that love and miss of our home,” Blas continued.

The 12th annual Chamorro Cultural Festival will be held March 23, 2024.