Cacao Project founder Louise Mabulo took to Facebook to call out Nas Daily vlogger Nuseir Yassin over his 2019 visit to her hometown, claiming he had been rude, mocked the local accent and language, and cared only about clickable content.
Louise’s post comes shortly after Nas Academy, an online learning platform led by Nuseir, came under fire for offering an online tattooing course with legendary artist Whang-Od – despite the artist’s grandniece and protege Grace Palicas saying the artist did not consent.
Nas Academy responded by posting a video showing Whang-Od affixing her thumbprint to what appears to be a contract – though Grace had earlier said her grandaunt did not understand the translators.
In an August 5 Facebook post, Louise backed Grace by sharing her own experience with Nas Daily.
She said that Nuseir visited her hometown to cover her social enterprise, which aims to support farmers’ livelihoods by providing them with cacao seedlings as a long-term crop to rotate with other short-term crops.
At the time, Louise was a fan of Nas Daily, and would watch it everyday. However, she said she would soon be disappointed by Nuseir’s behavior.
“I watched him imitate and mock the local accent and language, vocalizing Tagalog-sounding syllabic phrases saying it sounded stupid,” she claimed in a lengthy Facebook post. According to Louise, Nuseir also repeatedly called Filipinos, farmers, and the people of her hometown poor.
“He said no one wants to hear about farmers or farms, it’s not clickable viewable content. He didn’t care about making change or shedding light on real issues — he only wanted content, a good, easy story to tell that would get him more Filipino views. He even joked at the start of the day that all he needed was to put ‘Philippines’ in the title, and he’d rack in millions of views would and the comments would come flooding with brainless ‘Pinoy pride’ comments,” she said.
Louise claimed that Nuseir didn’t thank her family even after they had received him in their home and refused to eat food her mother had prepared for him.
“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 said.
“At the end of the day, I was exhausted, I had no patience left, and I’d worn out every last dreg of my tolerance. He refused to let anyone take a break or eat, and he blamed his lack of ‘presentable click-worthy content’ on me and claimed that everything is not clickable or viewable,” she continued.
Louise said that she had been transparent about her work during a phone call, and told him that she didn’t think it would be something he could visualize or cover in a one-minute video – the format Nas Daily had become known for.
According to Louise, Nuseir wrongfully assumed that she replaced coconuts with cacao – something she called “unrealistic,” “absurd,” and “not the goal of my venture.”
Eventually, they both agreed that it was best for him to leave.
“I should have known better, that this man was exploitative and fueling a neocolonialist narrative using our need for foreign validation,” she said.
She explained that she stayed silent since then to avoid backlash. “I told myself, that if he really was like this, it would come to light eventually,” she added.
She then addressed Whang-Od’s niece Grace, expressing her support, and hoping she and her tribe get the “justice and the compensation your tribe deserves from exploitative content creators.”
“The fact that he refused to take down the course until Gracia took her post down is a clear sign of systematic silencing, and the hope that they want to continue their money-making from our culture,” she said.
Nas Daily responds
Responding to Louise in an August 5 Facebook post on Nas Daily’s Tagalog page, the vlogger said “I have also kept my silence for two years out of respect to you. But I can’t let you share falsehoods on the Internet for free.”
He said that he was inspired by Louise’s story, and spent two days in Louise’s hometown after reading on the internet about how her enterprise changed the cacao industry in her province.
“To my biggest sadness and surprise, your story was not true on the ground. Once we arrived at your plantation, once we saw the village and talked to the farmers, we came to the conclusion that there is no story here. That the awards on the Internet are just that…awards,” he said.
“Our investigation has made it clear that your story in the media is false. And that there are no ‘200 farmers’ that you work with, and there are no Cacao plantations that you don’t personally profit from,” he added.
Nuseir said that they decided to leave “because I will never ever put Fake News on Nas Daily.”
He claimed that Louise’s Cacao Project was a family business that she profits from, and that “it doesn’t actually help the farmers” – something Nas said she agreed with them on.
He ended by giving her “two advices”: to be truthful about her work, and to “not share online falsehoods.”
“That is borderline illegal. Everything you said is whith malicious intent and it is clearly not how I speak. We have 5 years of evidence to back that up,” he said.
Responding to Nuseir’s statement, Louise said that their enterprise is doing well, and that their farmers “are well and real.”
“I will not take advice nor criticism, especially when you clearly don’t understand Filipino farming and culture, or refuse to,” she said.
She reiterated that local culture should be respected and preserved, not sold for profit. – Rappler.com