The Flowering of the Santa Maria del Monte

The small town of Caltagirone on the island of Sicily in Italy has an annual tradition with its most famous landmark. Built in 1608, the Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte has 142-steps which are each decorated with a different ceramic, using styles and figures derived from the millennial tradition of pottery making.

Each year, during the La Scala Flower Festival, about two thousands potted plants and flowers of different shades and colors are arranged on the historic staircase to create one grand design. The La Scala Flower Festival is held as a tribute to Our Lady of Conadomini, the patron and protector of the city of Caltagirone. This year, the floral design decorated the staircase for almost a full month so that visitors could admire the grandeur of its scale. Created by Angelo Murgo, it was comprised of 2,000 plants and flowers which included geranium, marigold and boxwood.


Cuando te rompen el corazón te vuelves mala persona, alguien que lastimará a otros. Pero cuando te lo rompen por segunda vez, de alguna forma entiendes que, por más que duela el amor, es mejor ser buena persona con los demás y no convertirte en el mismo tipo de persona que te dañó. No seas alguien más del montón y ama con todas tus fuerzas aunque duela, te juro que al final, verás que vale más la pena sufrir sabiendo que lo diste todo, a sufrir porque dañaste a alguien.

MANILA, Philippines (Feb. 20) — More than 100 communist guerrillas stormed one of the world’s largest pineapple plantations in the southern Philippines, killing a guard and torching farm equipment in their biggest attack this year, officials said Wednesday.

At least two other guards and a villager were shot and wounded by the New People’s Army guerrillas, who barged into a residential, recreational and office complex on the vast plantation of Del Monte Philippines Inc. late Tuesday in Manolo Fortich town in Bukidnon province, Army Lt. Col. Eugenio Osias said.

Shortly before the assault, the Maoist guerrillas, who were disguised as army soldiers, blocked a patrol car carrying three police officers at a bridge in Manolo Fortich and seized weapons from them, Osias said.

Reinforcement troops clashed with the rebels for 20 minutes prior to the Del Monte attack, but the guerrillas managed to withdraw and proceed to the plantation, where they shot to death a guard at the gate and later wounded two other guards, regional police chief Catalino Rodriguez said.

The Maoist rebels burned farm equipment and destroyed a number of computers in an office. They ransacked buildings and seized firearms at the plantation’s Camp Phillips, a scenic complex of country homes, a golf course and a clubhouse for farm officers and workers, Del Monte senior manager Ramon Velez said.

Rebel spokesman Jorge Madlos said Wednesday that the assaults were punishment for Del Monte’s refusal to heed a guerrilla demand to stop expanding its already-vast plantations, which they blame for harming the environment.

Big Wage Increases at Del Monte

RWDSU Local 17 members at Del Monte Foods in Mendota, Illinois, will see wages increase almost 15 percent over the life of their new five-year contract. The contract for over 100 members also freezes health insurance premiums for the first three years, and dental insurance for entire length of the pact.

The members work at a distribution and labeling center for Del Monte food products.