The Philippine island of Homonhon in best known as the first site in Asia where Ferdinand Magellan set foot on his historic circumnavigation of the globe. Today, the island is home to open-pit mines that have been operating for decades to get valuable deposits of chromite and nickel. Locals opposed to the mines now have a new weapon in their fight: a recent assessment of the island’s flora and fauna, showing that it houses threatened and endemic species, in particular the critically endangered Philippine cockatoo. The regional environment department has recommended that in light of this finding, the entire island be declared a critical habitat, which would protect the identified species from mining and other activities. GUIUAN, Philippines — The island of Homonhon in the Philippines’ Eastern Samar province cemented its place in history when the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan landed on its warm ochre shores in 1521 and named the island and the archipelago Las islas de San Lázaro . The site where he landed would later be named Lazaro Beach. Magellan and his fleet spent nearly two weeks there recuperating and gathering food and water after an arduous Pacific crossing that had left dozens of the crew […]

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