Nas Academy takes down Whang-Od course after grandniece calls it a scam

The Nas Academy – an online learning platform created by Nuseir Yassin aka Nas Daily – has taken down its page offering a traditional tattooing course by world-renowned traditional tattoo artist Whang-od, after the artist’s grandniece Grace Palicas called it a “scam.”

The page originally said that Whang-Od will "reveal all the rituals, tools, and methods for making traditional tattoos." The price of learning this ancient art was set at P750.

In a Facebook post on the public group "Tattoeed by Apo Whang-Od" on Wednesday, August 4, Grace said: “My grandmother did not sign any contract with [Nas Daily] to do any academy. 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.”

Grace is herself a tattoo artist, and was chosen by Whang-Od to pass on the art of traditional tattoo. In another post on her Facebook page, the younger artist expressed her worry at their traditions being exploited.

“I know you have good intentions of sharing our culture to the next generation. However our village concern is that some people are profiting and expointing [sic] our art and culture,” she said. The post has since been deleted, however.

Now 104 years old, Whang-Od is recognized for keeping the ancient art of Kalinga tattooing alive as tattoos visitors using a hand-tapped method with thorns and charcoal. 

In 2018, Whang-Od was given the Dangal ng Haraya award by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). She has been featured in many documentaries and stories all over the world, with Nas Daily posting a short video about her in April. 

In June, Nas announced that he tapped 12 Filipino creators to share their knowledge on Nas Academy, which was launched in 2020 as an online video school. 

The Nas Academy also features courses from broadcast journalist Jessica Soho, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, food entrepreneur and vlogger Erwan Heussaff, and wedding videographer Jason Magbanua.

Rappler has reached out to the Nas Academy for comment but they have yet to reply as of posting. – Rappler.com