Interview with Mrs. Percilia Matos da Silva
Undated, most likely in the first half of the 1990s.


Percília Matos da SilvaJairo Carioca: What is your full name?
Mrs. Percilia: Percilia Matos da Silva.
Jairo Carioca: Where were you born?
Mrs. Percilia: I was born right here, in Rio Branco.
Jairo Carioca: The name of your parents?
Mrs. Percilia: My father was Antonio Ribeiro de Matos and my mother Firmina Maria de Matos.
Jairo Carioca: Were they from Acre?
Mrs. Percilia: My father was from Ceará state, and she was from Amazonas state.
Jairo Carioca: Do you know the story of how they met?
Mrs. Percilia: I'm not really sure about their story, you know. It comes from my ancestors, so I don't know it to tell.
Jairo Carioca: But were they married here, in Rio Branco?
Mrs. Percilia: It was here, in Rio Branco.
Jairo Carioca: When were you born?
Mrs. Percilia: On July 8th of 1926.
Jairo Carioca: Where were you raised? In what place?
Mrs. Percilia: First we were from here, the Forest. I was born right here. It was here, in the Calafate district forest.
Jairo Carioca: At the entrance to Calafate.
Mrs. Percilia: Yes. At the entrance to Calafate there is an area of low land, so when you climbed to the top there was a straw house, the house of my Father. I was born there. Even today I say that my homeland is over there (she smiles).
Jairo Carioca: How was it at that time, did he have a colony?
Mrs. Percilia: It was a colony. He had a beautiful coffee and sugarcane plantation that he cultivated. By the side of daddy's property there were other neighbors, and they were the late Vicente and Jovita. You folks do not know these people, no. We were like brothers and sisters. We were all raised together. His family with ours were just like brothers and sisters.
Jairo Carioca: Until what year did he live there?
Mrs. Percilia: Daddy lived there until, let's see... 1934. I think it was around 1936 when he sold the land together with a friend that lived nearby, in a place that was called Dois de Pau [Two of Clubs].
Jairo Carioca: He sold up and went where?
Mrs. Percilia: He went to live next to this friend of his -- on the riverbank, where he only had problems. He sold his property for peanuts and went there, where he got a small lot that had nothing. For starters, the house only had a frame. When it rained, it rained inside the house.
Jairo Carioca: How old were you at that time?
Mrs. Percilia: At that time I was around six, seven. In the year that we arrived, with great sacrifice, daddy plowed a field alone with the family. The boys were all toddlers and mom could not help. He plowed this field and the kids got sick, everyone. I almost died even. One of the youngest died. He died there.
Jairo Carioca: What was his name?
Mrs. Percilia: José.
Jairo Carioca: How many brothers did you have?
Mrs. Percilia: He was six to seven years old [she misunderstood the question].
Jairo Carioca: And siblings, how many did you have?
Mrs. Percilia: It was me, Cesario, João, the one who died over there and Bibi [Mrs. Maria Ribeiro], who died here. Then we left. He did not find anyone to buy the property, since it was worth nothing, right? And I said, "I won't stay here". Then he began to feel sick. He also had malaria. So my maternal grandmother said, "Everyone go to my house. It has space for everyone." We also went there together with a man whose name was Joaquim Piauí. Yes, he was called Joaquim Piauí. I do not know his proper name. He had a colony, but it was abandoned. Later he began to build a house there with floorboards and covered with straw. It had nothing else, only a floor. Then daddy developed fevers from the malaria. People told him to eat green mangos to the point of vomiting. Dear God in Heaven! Back then things were very different. So he did. He ate green mangos until he could eat no more. Then he expelled it all, but he started to suffer with his liver. The fever subsided with other medication. Then Joaquim Piauí said, "I'll hand over my colony to you so that you can work it until you find a property." And so he went there, all excited.
Jairo Carioca: Where was this colony?
Mrs. Percilia: It was here, on the way to the rubber plantation Nova Esperança.
Jairo Carioca: How old were you then?
Mrs. Percilia: At that time I was eight. So Dad was working there and stuff... Until he was offered the colony that we moved to here, called Alberto Torres, which he bought.
Jairo Carioca: How old were you when you came to Alberto Torres?
Mrs. Percilia: At that time I was already eight coming on nine.
Jairo Carioca: Was it soon after [that you began drinking Daime]?
Mrs. Percilia: Yes, it was. Once we arrived there we started to drink Daime. It was in the same year we arrived, in 1934, when we came to Alberto Torres.
Jairo Carioca: Did Mestre Irineu already hold [Daime] works?
Mrs. Percilia: He did, yes. It was at the time of the invasion of the land belonging to the late Barros, a great rubber baron. People invaded his land because he would not give the land to anyone. There was so much land. People invaded it, and in this invasion Mestre got in as well. He had recently left the police service. Then people invited him over and each one got a piece of land to cultivate. I know for a fact that by the time we arrived he had also recently arrived. This was when Dad bought the piece of land and we came here. The previous land was left behind, because it was not ours, it was Joaquim's. A few days later a neighbor called my father to go and see a [Daime] session, to ask for protection, as he needed to know what it was like. So daddy decided to go along. The first time he went, he returned the next day looking very pleased, saying that he had found something that had touched his soul and that he knew to be true and that from then on he was going to continue with it. He told us the vision he had had, where he saw his family in Ceará. He saw many things that had happened in his life and he realized that from then on he would not leave this line of work. But I still had the malaria that I had brought from the other colony, and it would not leave me. Everyone got cured, except me.
Jairo Carioca: Were you still sick?
Mrs. Percilia: Can you believe that I spent a lot of time, years and years recovering from malaria? If I spent two or three days without fever, everyone would be surprised. When I thought it had passed, I would relapse again with migraines and all kinds of bad things. I was always sick. Then dad said, "Mestre, I have this girl who is always sick. Either you give me some medicine for me to give to her or I will bring her over here." At that time there were very few people who accompanied Mestre. There were only about half a dozen.
Jairo Carioca: Do you remember who they were?
Mrs. Percilia: I do remember. So he went and gave a little bit of Daime for dad to take home. Dad arrived and did not say anything to mom. Mom was not aware of it, and I even less so. Then one day he took out the medicine and said it was for mom to give me a little bit, but just a little, you know? And if the person was weak from fever, it had to be on an empty stomach. And so he asked for it to be given to me and left to tend the crops. In fact, she did not give me much. She gave me not more than a spoonful in a cup. It was no more than that. I took it as if I were taking any other medication. I lay down to sleep and it was in that drowsiness that I became startled... The force had started to arrive and it surprised me. For me, the world was all different. Then I said, "Oh My Lady Mary, what is this?" I called, "Mother, Mother." Then mom came, "What is it girl?" I said, "Come, mother, come because I am dying." Then mom said, "What is it, what are you talking about girl?" "I think I'm about to die. Come over here right now." And I remained in that agony, that I was going to die. Then mom got scared as well and asked for dad to be fetched quickly. The crops were nearby. My brother went to call him, and so then he comes. He arrived, looked at me and became amused. "Get your act together girl, don't be lazy. What's this fuss of dying all about? You are not going to die, no, you'll be all right." And he held me. As he held me, he asked mom to grab me by the other arm and to take a few steps with me. But instead of walking I promptly suspended my legs... It makes me want to laugh this incident, you know? I was a kid. No one had explained things to me and I knew nothing. Then he lifted me by the arm, stood me up with a jerk and spoke in a harsh voice. It startled me and I went back to normal. But I was afraid to go back to bed.
Jairo Carioca: Afraid of it starting all over again.
Mrs. Percilia: He made the bed, the hammock, and I lay down. But I did not have many visions because I was afraid. I was totally overwhelmed. I saw chicks passing by with legs this long. For me, the leaves were talking, but with each other. "But what is this?" I was a bit disconcerted, right?
Jairo Carioca: You were about eight years old?
Mrs. Percilia: Yes. I was like this until I no longer had a fever and the symptoms that I was having passed. When Saturday came, the following week, dad was scheduled to go back over there. "Daddy, I want to go with you." He said, "I'm not going to take you so that you can make a scene like you made here. God forbid! I won't take you." It made me very sad, but I said no more. A girl has no choice anyway, right? He said, "Mestre Irineu, my little girl wants to attend the work. I did not bring her because the other day she made a big scene at home and it was not easy to calm her down. If I bring her to the works she will get in the way of everybody..." He said, "No, bring her, bring her here." Well then, here he comes. He had decided to take me. I was very glad. But from the moment he agreed to take me with him I was already saying, "Oh my God, I hope I don't behave like the other day!"
Jairo Carioca: From the first time your father took Daime, did he never leave?
Mrs. Percilia: He never left. I observed how everyone was in the work. I would close my eyes a bit and then I would recall, "I hope I don't do that again." This until the work came to its closing. It was a concentration session. There were no hymnals at that time. He only had the hymn "White Moon". That was the hymn he had, "White Moon".
Jairo Carioca: He brought that hymn...
Mrs. Percilia: From Peru. Then, when he finished, he went and asked... "Zé Ribeiro, where's the girl you said was unruly and disturbed everybody?" He went and said, "Here she is." He grabbed me and took me to him. "Is she the one? She is a huasquera forever." That was it then. With that he blessed me, isn't that so?
Jairo Carioca: He did.
Mrs. Percilia: That was it then. I would always accompany dad, in fact I drank Daime before my mom. She took a long time to drink Daime because she had young children and did not want to take them.
Jairo Carioca: Was it far from where you lived?
Mrs. Percilia: Don't you guys know where it was? Right now I don't even remember, but there, back then, it was called Vila Ivonete. It passed through Vila Ivonete.
Jairo Carioca: Was it a long walk?
Mrs. Percilia: Our colony was right next to the one that comes from Alberto Torres... It was close. It was not far, no.
Jairo Carioca: And how about the people who worked with Mestre at that time?
Mrs. Percilia: At that time there was José das Neves, Germano Guilherme, João Pereira, Antonio Ribeiro, who arrived last and João Paulino, who attended the works for a short period and then left, you know? After him...
Jairo Carioca: Had Maria Damião arrived yet?
Mrs. Percilia: After that Maria Damião arrived. Pedro Marques arrived before Maria Damião, her brother-in-law. Pedro Marques was already following Mestre before the arrival of Damião Marques [husband of Maria Damião], who was his brother. He came from a rubber plantation and relied on being there. Afterwards he began to attend the works as well. Then there was another man. His name was José Antonio. They called him Zé Capanga [1]. They knew him as Zé Capanga. Those were the people who accompanied Mestre Irineu. Then the hymns "Tuperci" and "Ripi" came, after we arrived. "Tuperci" and "Ripi", those two hymns.

[1] Capanga (Henchman) -- usually a nickname for fearless / tough people.

Jairo Carioca: Were you eight years old?
Mrs. Percilia: I was around eight or nine... I was already nine years old. Mr. Germano had two hymns. João Pereira also had two hymns. Then Mr. Germano received another hymn and with this completed three. Then there comes "Tarumim", "Papai Paxá" [Mestre's hymns]. He had five hymns, with the three hymns of Germano, that made eight, and the two of João Pereira, ten. And then the "Meal" hymn came -- "Heavenly Father of the Heart" --, which is not from the line of the works. It is just an "Entertainment". The first hymnal Work that was held was on Saint John's Day, in 1935. You see, I was nine years old. I remember it well... it was at the home of Damião Marques, of Maria Damião. But at that time there was no dance, nothing. It was just sung a cappella, with no instruments or anything.
Jairo Carioca: Were the works just concentrations?
Mrs. Percilia: Just Concentrations. We would sit all night. It was not a festival, no, it was only with those people that I have mentioned. I have already mentioned these people. There was Zé das Neves and his wife, my dad and his family and such, those people, with a big bonfire burning [Saint John's Bonfire]. We sang each hymn three times to make each one count, right? The five hymns of O Cruzeiro were sung, then the three of Germano and afterwards the two of João Pereira. At the end we would start all over again in order to keep going the whole night. I know that when it was about eleven o'clock, midnight, there was served cassava cake, corn pudding, a lot of food, you know? Roasted corn and many other things. It was such a feast. Then, when the table was set with all sorts of food, in great abundance, it was time to sing [she sings]:

Heavenly Father of the heart
Who, today on this day
Gave us Our bread
Thanks to Mother

So everyone sang and we had a great feast during the interval, and then we started all over again, the same hymns. Until the point came for my dad, who had a high pitched voice, to pull the hymn "Daddy Paxá". His pitch was too high and his voice couldn't hold out anymore. When they repeated the hymn he said, "That doomed me..." Everything was a reason to laugh. I remember that we sang until morning. We would sing Mestre's hymnbook, then Germano, then João Pereira. At the end we would start all over again until it was morning. This was the first hymnal. And we kept doing these works and other hymnbooks began arriving. I, with my conviction, thought, "I want to see where these hymnbooks are going; I want to see what the next hymn to come is." Then I kept track of the hymnbooks out of curiosity. It got my attention. I was a kid, but I was smart.
Jairo Carioca: Did you go to school at that time?
Mrs. Percilia: Yes, I did.
Jairo Carioca: Which school?
Mrs. Percilia: I studied on Forest road*, at the Santiago school, there where today is... I do not know what there is, but it is next to the Saint Peregrine church. On the side of the church, where there was a big mango tree, which I think they already cut down. It was right next to the mango tree.
Jairo Carioca: Was it a government school?
Mrs. Percilia: Yes, it belonged to the government.
Jairo Carioca: Do you remember what the government was at that time?
Mrs. Percilia: It was Hugo Carneiro.
Jairo Carioca: Did Mestre Irineu live over there for a long time?
Mrs. Percilia: For a long time, this was in 1935. He moved to Alto Santo in 1945.
Jairo Carioca: And were you always with him?
Mrs. Percilia: All the time. When daddy died in 1937 we remained under Mestre's responsibility. Still in our house, but no one did anything without his permission. Everything was determined by him.
Then new people came and Maria Damião started receiving hymns as well. That was when Antonio Gomes arrived. At that time, the rows of people during the hymnals were as the hymn of Maria Damião says -- everyone was numbered, for example, if I arrive today, I'm in front. If you arrive tomorrow, you're next to me. The person that comes later, stays at your side ... And so on and so forth. It is numbered, right? It was all ordered: who came first, second, third and so on.
Jairo Carioca: At that time was it like a chain of command?
Mrs. Percilia: I remember that Antonio Gomes had arrived by that time. He also began to receive hymns. Nowadays people arrive all the time... It had to change. Then the grade by height came, which is more appropriate.
Jairo Carioca: And from there did you accompany him to Alto Santo?
Mrs. Percilia: From there we moved right along to Alto Santo. We stayed right over there, on one side of the creek in a place called Espalhado. After that I moved to the other side of the creek, in the year when old Antonio Gomes died.
Jairo Carioca: What year was that?
Mrs. Percilia: It was...
Jairo Carioca: How old were you? Do you remember?
Mrs. Percilia: It was 1947. Even his hymn mentions the year of 1947. It was the year he died. He died in August.
Jairo Carioca: By the time Mestre moved to Alto Santo, do you remember at which hymn his hymnbook was?
Mrs. Percilia: It was in between the space of a couple hymns. The closest was "Divine Virgin Mother". Which was next?
Jairo Carioca: "I asked my Father for strength".
Mrs. Percilia: It was those two. He had already received them there. He still lived here [Vila Ivonete], but he received them in a couple of works that were held there.
Jairo Carioca: When was this?
Mrs. Percilia: In 1945, when he moved over there.
Jairo Carioca: And did you go along?
Mrs. Percilia: I did.
Jairo Carioca: And the elders say that you were the one who noted down his hymns, right?
Mrs. Percilia: No, at that time there was nothing written, it was all memorized. There was nothing written at that time, each one would learn and dance. That's why even to this day I am against this thing of hymnbooks. At that time, everyone memorized the hymnals. There was the puxante [who pulled the hymns]. When he [2] initiated the singing everyone knew what to sing. It is not necessary to sing too many times. You don't even have to look at the hymnbook in your hand, you just need to pay attention. And he tired of complaining and saying that the maraca is our support. It is the maraca, isn't it? To be able to mark the dance steps. Then one day he called my attention, because I was just beating the maraca with one hand, like this. When the hymn finished he said, "Is your other hand hurting?" - "No sir." - "Then why don't you beat the maraca on the other hand?" Then I became wary... Hence why there were no hymnbooks. Everyone knew the hymns by heart, there was no need for hymnbooks. After he left, they came up with this thing of hymnbooks, and without them people don't sing. And if the puxante makes a mistake, whoever is with a hymnbook in hand does not step up to the plate. No sir. And I am against this and I do not agree, no.

[2] It was normal for men to pull the hymns, even today.

Jairo Carioca: And at the time that Mestre moved to Alto Santo, was there already a uniform?
Mrs. Percilia: Yes, but the uniform was different. The uniform was blue and white, but the design was different.
Jairo Carioca: Do you remember the design?
Mrs. Percilia: I do. It was, at least for the women, a dress. It had a neck flap of approximately one foot, and it was all pleated from here down.
Jairo Carioca: Up to the waist.
Mrs. Percilia: It was plain fabric, but below there was a pleated band, like this, very short and with three stripes. The white portion had navy-blue stripes and three braids of about a finger's width at the band. It had long sleeves, also with three braids.
Jairo Carioca: The same stripes?
Mrs. Percilia: A little narrower. It had a sailor's collar with the same stripes. But it had that little tie with the same stripes at the tip.
Jairo Carioca: Like a sailor's uniform?
Mrs. Percilia: Like a sailor's uniform. But it had a piece of braid. That other braid that I mentioned has another name and I can't remember it. It was like a ribbon. This one was like a well twisted green cordon. And then there was a knot. This knot I never learned to make, I'm not ashamed to say. The only one who knew how to make it was Maria Damião, and she taught me countless times and I did not learn. It was a knot, and I don't know how, but what I do know is that at the end it would become a rose. This braid was right here at the tie. It would become a rose. I don't know how she did it, but it would end up like a well made rose.
Jairo Carioca: And how about the men's uniform?
Mrs. Percilia: The men's uniform had the same stripes, but not on the sleeve and there was no collar. But what I do know is that it was a beautiful uniform. And then in 1957, 58... It was in 1959 when the uniform changed to the one we have today.
Jairo Carioca: Was it on his trip to Maranhão that he received the instruction for this uniform?
Mrs. Percilia: It was on the trip he made to Maranhão.
Jairo Carioca: Do you remember this period?
Mrs. Percilia: He traveled to Maranhão in 1957. He came back in February of 1958.
Jairo Carioca: Were you there at his arrival?
Mrs. Percilia: I was.
Jairo Carioca: Was a hymn sung on his arrival?
Mrs. Percilia: The day he arrived, no. Not in that moment. We went to wait for him at the port. However, by the time we arrived at the market he was already there. We no longer needed to go to the port because he had already arrived. I was shocked even, because I thought he was going to come back strong. It was a leisure trip, right? When I saw him, I was shocked. I looked at him and asked, "Have you been unwell?" He said no. He smiled and said, "No, I have not been unwell." Later he told us -- he said the malady he had was due to the longing for his people that he had left behind, right? Because no one understood him over there. They were family, but no one understood him. Then he said he felt that feeling, felt that longing, that anxiety to return. Nothing for him was fine. He only felt grounded once he came back.
Jairo Carioca: Was it on this trip that he received the new order of uniform?
Mrs. Percilia: It was. Then there was a party for his arrival, on the day that he arrived. They had a party, a festival and such.
Jairo Carioca: People say there were three days of celebration?
Mrs. Percilia: There were, yes.
Jairo Carioca: Were there already dance steps at the works?
Mrs. Percilia: Yes. The dance steps started when he was at Vila Ivonete. When he moved to Alto Santo, the dance steps already existed.
Jairo Carioca: In 1958, when he arrived, at which hymn was his hymnbook?
Mrs. Percilia: I have no recollection. I do not remember.
Jairo Carioca: But it was already well advanced?
Mrs. Percilia: Yeah.
Jairo Carioca: And how did you meet Mr. Pedro? [Her husband]
Mrs. Percilia: Ah! I met Pedro right there in the village, at a party. It was when I lived in his house. That's when I spent a couple of years living in his house. Back then I did not know Pedro. I knew Capiturim, his first son, you know? I knew him, his wife.
Jairo Carioca: Did you know Mrs. Raimunda?
Mrs. Percilia: I did.
Jairo Carioca: Do you remember any passage you had with her, any moment?
Mrs. Percilia: Overall we worked for a long time, me and her. We worked together for a long time. I have no complaints about her. For me, she was a good friend.
Jairo Carioca: At that time Mrs. Percilia, were there a lot of people?
Mrs. Percilia: At that time, yes, there were. But when we arrived, there were just a few people.
Jairo Carioca: Many hymns?
Mrs. Percilia: There were already many hymns.
Jairo Carioca: And how was Mestre himself; was he a joyful person?
Mrs. Percilia: He was cheerful, a person who always wished everyone well. He always worked for peace, for union. At that time, the people of Irineu were respected by all the authorities. So much so that both the governor and state representatives would say that Mestre's people gave no trouble to them, because everything here was handled by him. He was deputy, judge, prosecutor, he was everything. If there was any disagreement between members of the community, he would take care of it. No one spoke badly about anybody. There was a time when people were truly brothers and sisters, there was no gossiping, and if there was some disagreement, people would make peace and apologize at the day of the work. But Mestre knows what he's doing. He asked the Queen to take away the discipline of that time, because it was discipline for real. No one would falter. People had to be respectful, walk straight and treat each other with love. That, as the statement says, "Which I do not wish for myself I should not wish upon others", should have remained so. But he asked to revoke it, because the discipline was instantaneous. It was better for people not to joke around, even about the smallest thing. He asked Her to revoke it, because the way it was no one dared to follow this line because it was heavy. This was when he asked for her to go easy. Today, people do as they please and such... Well OK, but no one should think that things get overlooked because they do not, because we all have to account for our deeds. If today I don't go through a discipline that tells me that I am being punished for this or that, then things remain stored for the day of reckoning. Or at some point we must account for it. So much so that it says in the hymn of Maria Damião, "That our deeds we have to show. That we are going to present ourselves and we have to show our deeds", right?
Jairo Carioca: And what about the hymn "Messenger"?
Mrs. Percilia: There are people who think these hymns are a joke. People like to show off. Some people think that this hymn is a joke. Some hymns out there are embarrassing. God forbid, it makes us ashamed just to hear them.
Jairo Carioca: Do you have any hymns?
Mrs. Percilia: I have, but just a few.
Jairo Carioca: How many hymns do you have? Fifteen?
Mrs. Percilia: I don't want any more. I asked for the hymnbook to be closed. There is no point in having a lot of hymns if one can't account for them.
Jairo Carioca: When did you receive your first hymn?
Mrs. Percilia: I was so young when I received my first hymn that I can't remember. I think I was around fifteen. I was still quite young still.
Jairo Carioca: Back then was it easier?
Mrs. Percilia: It was not easier, it was about the same.
Jairo Carioca: Mrs. Percilia, at that time when Mestre lived in Alto Santo, did he have a lot of crops?
Mrs. Percilia: A lot of crops. It was the same thing -- he always worked in order to have something to give. Nowadays we hear about community leaders. Everyone wants to preside over a council district. He was the first community leader. At that time, no one praised it, no one knew what it was. But those people who were gathering around him, they all wanted to live close to him, listen to his advice and follow him. More and more people would flock in, and when he moved here, to Alto Santo, everyone wanted to live close to him. So much so that while in government, Guiomard dos Santos ceded that vast area for him to live on with his people. And he, in order to see all his people well, for everyone to possess abundance within their homes, he would gather twenty, thirty men a day to cultivate a crop. The next day they would cultivate another one, and so on until they completed all the crops. When the time came to clear the land it was with an axe, since at that time they had no saw. And then came the time to slash and burn everyones plantations. When it was time to plant, the day would be set and all the women would gather, and men, and children... everyone would go to work.
Jairo Carioca: Did a lot of people always turn up?
Mrs. Percilia: Lots of people. It started from the first to the last crop. If there were 30 to 40 men, they would plow and seed the fields. There were days when they planted two crops, because there were so many people. And so on. When the time came to harvest the crops, there was just the same union and everyone had abundance and everyone lived well. There was no such thing as famine and misery; I was terrified of that word.
Jairo Carioca: Was this system implemented as soon as he arrived?
Mrs. Percilia: Up to... He used this system almost until the time he died. Everyone had their own crops, a plentiful house. He wanted everyone to cultivate the land as well as to farm animals so that no-one would need to beg and ask others for food.
Jairo Carioca: When you arrived in Alto Santo, was it already built? [Current Memorial]
Mrs. Percilia: No, that house was built by him. He went to live there in a little house, on the trail that leads to the cemetery. Right next to where the jagube was beaten. There was a house in that place, where he went to live. It was a small house, not a good home. It was a house made of palm tree. If you stepped on one end of a plank it would rise at the other. The first hymnal was held there... He moved to Alto Santo nearing the festivity of St. John. Now there was an orange grove there that was planted by the previous tenant. It was a beautiful orange grove. He asked us to clean it and make it all nice and neat. He said, "Now how are we going to hold the hymnal? Because the house is no good." The planks were all loose. "It will be here, under this orange grove." They made some benches there. It was beautiful. When it was the eve of St. John's Day, in the morning, on the eve of the same hymnal, it was bone-chillingly cold, a morning frost. Then I thought, "Oh my God, how are we going to spend the night singing in the middle of the orange grove with a chill like that?" It was really icy. I thought, "Good Lord." Later I asked for forgiveness. But everything is a test that we go through. I thought about it and wondered... I said, "My God, I will not stand such cold." But look, a miracle happened, because after midday it all went away; the ice and the rain. There only remained a slight breeze that everyone could cope with. Only God himself can make a miracle like this. Then I said, "Father, forgive me." But it was a beautiful work that night. At that time, Adalia, who was a tiny little girl, drank Daime. When the visions arrived, she would cling to me. She was so attached to me I don't think she even remembers it today. She only felt well by my side. I found it funny. When she saw things getting rough, she would cling to me.
Jairo Carioca: And do you remember in which year he built Alto Santo?
Mrs. Percilia: No, a couple of years passed by. He still had to cut wood. Two or three years, I don't recall exactly. It was something like that.
Jairo Carioca: After building Alto Santo, did the works start to be held there?
Mrs. Percilia: They did.
Jairo Carioca: Was the uniform the same?
Mrs. Percilia: It was the same. But then, in 1957-58, when he went to Maranhão, he came back with this idea for a new uniform.
Jairo Carioca: Did they already have dance steps for the hymnals?
Mrs. Percilia: Yes, when he moved to Alto Santo there were already dance steps.
Jairo Carioca: And what about the first Headquarters, Mrs. Percilia, did it take a long time to be built after Alto Santo?
Mrs. Percilia: Yes, It did.
Jairo Carioca: Germano, Maria Damião, they all accompanied him?
Mrs. Percilia: Everyone. They were, as people say, the front line.
Jairo Carioca: You were the first ever commander. Could you say how you received this position?
Mrs. Percilia: Yes. First was Mrs. Raimunda. It was her.
Jairo Carioca: And from her it was passed to you? When was that?
Mrs. Percilia: It was passed to me, but I don't remember when.
Jairo Carioca: Did the Concentration work already exist at that time?
Mrs. Percilia: The first work was a Concentration.
Jairo Carioca: And what about the dates on the 15th and 30th of every month?
Mrs. Percilia: Those of the 15th and 30th began after the start of the Esoteric Circle. The dates remained after he left the Circle.
Jairo Carioca: And did the blue uniform already exist?
Mrs. Percilia: It did.
Jairo Carioca: Since early on did he celebrate all these calendar dates?
Mrs. Percilia: He always celebrated these dates.
Jairo Carioca: Did you associate with Maria Damião, Germano? Did you have a close acquaintance with them?
Mrs. Percilia: All of them, because when they arrived... Not Germano, who arrived before me. But when Maria Damião arrived, I was already here. She met me here.
Jairo Carioca: Mrs. Percilia, later Mestre began receiving the New Hymns, do you remember when that was?
Mrs. Percilia: I do not remember, no.
Jairo Carioca: Did he die soon after he received the hymn "Cold Earth" or did some time pass?
Mrs. Percilia: He received "Cold Earth" in December of 1970, when it was June of 1971 he passed away.


Interview with Percilia Matos da Silva -- undated, most likely in the first half of the 1990s. Department of Historical Heritage of Acre State / Elias Mansour Foundation. English review by Moonvine.