Nas Academy denies profiting off beloved Filipino tattoo artist Whang-Od Oggay

Online learning platform Nas Academy has denied allegations that the course featuring a beloved Filipino tattoo artist is a scam.

The accusation: A Facebook post went viral on Wednesday accusing Nas Academy of taking advantage and profiting off 104-year-old Whang-Od Oggay, a traditional tattoo artist from Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga, Philippines.

  • Whang-Od’s grandniece and protegée Grace Palicas took to Facebook to call “The Ancient Art of Tattooing” under the “Whang-Od Academy” a scam.
  • “WARNING!!! Whang Od Academy is a scam,” Palicas wrote on the Facebook group Tattooed by Apo Whang Od. “My grandmother did not sign any contract with @NasDaily to do any academy. Som [sic] people are taking advantage of our culture. PLEASE HELP US STOP this disrespect to the legacy of Apo Whang Od and the Butbot Tribe.”
  • In a separate post, Palicas claimed that Whang-Od confirmed that she did not approve of the course.
  • “Hello, everyone. Whang Od Academy is not real. I spoke to her, and she said she did not understand what the translators were saying. Am sorry to tell you she will not be joining the @nasdaily,” she wrote.
  • The Whang-Od Academy page has since been removed from Nas Academy, and Palicas has taken her Facebook posts down.

The response: On Thursday, Nas Academy released an official statement refuting Palicas’ allegations, noting that the centenarian tattoo expert is aware of the course and even signed a contract.

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  • The post, which includes a video clip of Whang-Od attaching her thumbprint on a contract, said the platform sought her permission for the course.
  • “We love her traditions and are inspired by her. We wanted to share her culture for future generations to appreciate and respect the ancient Kalinga tradition of mambabatok. So we pitched her family the idea of creating Whang-Od Academy,” they shared.
  • According to the post, the artist and her family present during their discussion not only loved the concept, but they also worked with them to “build the course, 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,” the caption to the video read.
  • The post went on to note that “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.”

About her: Whang-Od Oggay, who belongs to the Butbut people of the larger Kalinga ethnic group, is often described as the “last” and oldest traditional Kalinga tattooist (mambabatok). Highly esteemed and respected in the Philippines, she is considered a national treasure.

About Nas Academy: Nas Academy is led by Palestinian Israeli Nuseir Yassin, a vlogger who rose to fame by uploading one-minute videos daily on Facebook.

Featured Image via Nas Daily

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