Nas Academy released a video on August 5 that showed Kalinga tattoo artist Whang-Od signed a contract consenting to the platform’s “Whang-Od Academy.”
Nas Academy is a learning platform founded by Palestinian-Israeli vlogger Nuseir Yassin, known for creating content under the name “Nas Daily.”
The platform also alleged the circulating post from Whang-Od’s grandniece and apprentice as false.
The company explained how it approached Whang-Od and acquired permission from her and her family to create the online tattooing course.
Her “most trusted niece” Estella Palangdao was also present at the signing, the academy says.
“So we pitched her family the idea of creating Whang-Od Academy. Her and her family present both loved this idea, and have worked WITH US to build it, with Whang-Od teaching herself.
“As a matter of fact, Whang-Od’s trusted niece, Estella Palangdao, was present and translated the content of the contract prior to Whang-Od affixing her thumbprint, signifying her full consent to the project. This is the clearest evidence that it is not a scam and achieved the consent of her and her immediate family.”
This was shown in the video where Whang-Od went through the contract and then, affixed her thumbprint as her signature to it.
The online academy also said that the tattoo artist’s family was compensated well for the project.
“Everybody was compensated for their time, and for every sale the Whang-Od Academy generates, most of it went directly to her and her family. We just provided the technology and the marketing,” they said.
They also took down the offer of the online course as a form if “respect” for her family following the alleged “falsehoods” that erupted.
“So naturally, when we saw the falsehoods circulating online, we were sad. The truth is oftentimes not as simple as a ‘tweet’. And online falsehoods can be dangerous. Out of respect for her family, we temporarily took down Whang-Od Academy while we resolve any issues that have arisen from these falsehoods,” they said.
The controversy started after Gracia Palicas, Whang-Od’s apprentice and grandniece, accused the platform of exploiting the culture of the Butbot Tribe and called the online course a “scam.”
Palicas expressed these sentiments on her Facebook account. However, she has since deleted them.
Some social media users were quick to take screenshots of the posts and shared them online.
“Some people are taking advantage of our culture. PLEASE HELP US STOP this disrespect to the legacy of Apo Whang Od and the Butbot Tribe,” Palicas wrote in one of her posts.
In the same statement, the company countered this claim and noted that they cared for the Philippines and its cultures, citing the number of Filipino members among them.
“40% of Nas Academy is made up of Filipinos. So for us, this is personal. We care deeply about the Philippines and respect the many cultures and traditions that exist across the country. And we have all come together to make the world a better place. Thank you for supporting our mission!” they said.