Singapore – Following the company’s decision to take down the online course featuring Filipino tattoo artist Apo Whang-od, Nas Academy has finally responded to the allegations that the online course was a ‘scam’ and that the course has been approved by the artist herself.

The issue stemmed from a Facebook post by Kalinga-based tattoo artist Gracia Palicas who is also the grandniece of Apo Whang-od herself, which has since then been deleted, warning people that Apo Whang-od never signed any contract with NAS Academy said online course, which was available for a price of PHP750.

“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 stated.

Most often referred to as the ‘last’ and oldest ‘mambabatok’ or traditional Kalinga tattoo artist, Whang-od was conferred by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) the prestigious ‘Dangal ng Haraya’ Award at Tabuk, the capital of Whang-od’s ethnic province of Kalinga, in 2018.

In a Facebook post that included video evidence of Apo Whang-Od inking her right thumb fingerprint into the documents, Nas Academy stated that they have approached her, with the reasoning that the team wanted to share her culture for future generations to appreciate and respect the ancient Kalinga tradition of ‘mambabatok’, a traditional tattoo art form she learned from her father by the age of 15.

Nas Academy added as well that they pitched the idea to her family regarding the creation of the Whang-Od Academy. The post stated as well that she and her family ‘loved this idea’, and have worked with NAS Academy 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.

“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,” the company stated.

No photo description available.
An image of Apo Whang-od (Courtesy of Apo Whang-od Facebook page)

Nas Academy was founded in 2020 by Arab-Israeli vlogger Nuseir Yassin, most commonly known online as ‘Nas Daily’ where he made 1,000 daily one-minute-long videos on Facebook. Said online education platform aims to empower creators to share their knowledge, built on the concept of the modern creator, supporting them with curriculum development, marketing, and community management.

With said issue being publicized, there has been growing sentiment among Filipino netizens that foreign influencers are banking on Filipino culture for their own benefit and profit.

In response, a spokesperson from Nas Academy told MARKETECH APAC, “Nas Academy’s mission is to help creators become the next generation of educators. All the Academies are built directly with the creators themselves, and the majority of the sales goes to them. We just provide the technology and the marketing. Nas Academy is proud to support Filipino creators to share their knowledge and culture both within the Philippines and around the world.”

The company also added in their Facebook post, “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.”