Nuseir Yassin, Palestinian-Israeli vlogger known as Nas Daily, dismissed as fake news all allegations against him and his company in a video released on Monday, August 9.
Yassin addressed the controversies about his course offering with Whang-Od and another complaint about a cacao farm in Bicol.
In the six-minute video, he initially recounted his journey to the Philippines starting in 2017. He also presented content for videos, fundraisers and the Nas Academy business conducted.
The Cacao Project
This was an initiative of entrepreneur Louise de Guzman Mabulo who earlier published her unpleasant experience collaborating with Yassin in 2019.
This project was Mabulo’s way to help farmers who were victims of Typhoon Nina that caused widespread damage over Bicol’s agriculture in 2016.
In Mabulo’s social media post, she accused Yassin of discriminating against their local language and being disrespectful to her family and the farmers.
“Blatant discrimination of my people, no regard for local customs or cultures, and he’d built a story in his mind without meaningfully understanding the context of what he was going to cover. As a result, he was disappointed that my work wasn’t the perfectly packaged story he’d pre-determined and imagined—I mean what visual popcorn can you create out of a farm?” she wrote.
Yassin, however, criticized that the entire project was a misleading story that his team decided not to air the episode.
“On paper, it was supposed to be a non-profit that helps farmers. In reality, it’s a for-profit exploiting farmers. We said we cannot do this video in good conscience. We cannot show you things that we are not confident of,” he said.
Yassin also shared screenshots of other vloggers who were with him on the trip where they voice their support for him and against the allegedly fraudulent project.
Yassin also denied other accusations that he discriminated against farmers and showed prejudice against their food and their culture.
“None of that is true. That is false,” he said.
The Whang-Od course offering
Yassin had kept silent in the past week over the controversy involving his online learning platform, Nas Academy, and its deal with legendary tattoo artist Whang-Od.
But in this statement, he restated his company’s remark denying the veracity of the claims that it did not earn Whang-Od’s consent to offer a course on traditional tattoos. He also cited the video where Whang-Od signed a contract using her thumbprint.
Yassin’s statement, however, suggests that he believes holding classes about ancient tattooing only involves the consent of the tattoo artist.
“In everything we do, we get permission. We worked with the family directly and got their consent. We made sure to support them during these difficult times. We did all this as an act of support and not as an act of exploitation,” he said.
He failed to mention that the practice is part of indigenous heritage preserved for tribal descendants.
In a prior statement, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples of the Philippine government said the craft is part of the intellectual property rights of the group, not just Whang Od’s and her family’s.
The foreign blogger later added that his company is already working with NCIP on the matter. “We are working with lawyers to set the record straight and let the truth come out,” he said.