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Anthropology professor says Nas Daily doesn’t understand Kalinga culture, PH law

Gelo Gonzales

WHANG-OD

File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

UP Diliman professor Nestor Castro says free and prior informed consent is needed from the members of the Butbut Tribe, and not just from Whang-Od and her family

UP Diliman anthropology professor Nestor Castro offered his take on the Whang-Od-Nas Daily controversy on Friday, August 6. 

Castro offered an explanation on some of the failings of Nas Daily founder Nuseir Yassin in attempting to put up a Whang-Od tattooing course on his learning platform Nas Academy. 

“First, Nas Daily does not understand Kalinga culture,” said Castro. 

“Whang-od is not just an individual artist but she is also a member of the Butbut Tribe of Kalinga. Her skill on the art of traditional tattooing is derived from the indigenous knowledge of generations of Kalinga ancestors. Thus, this indigenous knowledge is collectively owned (although it may be individually practiced) by the Butbut. Thus, the consent of the members of the Butbut is necessary if this knowledge is to be shared to outsiders. Getting the permission of one individual is not enough.”

Castro, on his second point, said that “Nas Daily does not know Philippine law, more particularly Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.” (READ: The other controversies of Nas Daily’s Nuseir Yassin)

“Free and prior informed consent (FPIC) is required when the knowledge of indigenous peoples is used for commercial purposes. This consent is secured from the members of the ancestral domain, in this case the members of the Butbut Tribe and not from just one individual or her family. This is especially true of [what] the Whang-od Academy will reveal to outsiders about the indigenous community’s rituals. The agreement between the parties should also be written in English and the local Kinalingga language and witnessed by the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).”

The actual post appears below.

Free and prior informed consent, is also defined in Republic Act No. 8371 viewable here, which “shall mean the consensus of all members of the ICCs/IPs (Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples) to be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language and process understandable to the community.”

Yassin on Nas Daily Tagalog has a 22-second video showing Whang-Od affixing her thumbprint on what Yassin says is the written contract for the online tattooing course. In the same post, Yassin said that Whang-Od’s grandniece was present during the affixing of the thumbprint, and prior, the idea had been pitched to Whang-Od and her family. 

One thing that the post doesn’t prove is whether the “consensus of all members of the ICCs/IPs” had been given, and Whang-Od’s grandniece Grace Palicas’ “scam” call-out is indicating otherwise. 

Marlon Bosantog, the regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Cordillera NCIP-CAR, has also dismissed the video, saying that “Bandying on social media a contract is not a proof of compliance.” 

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Legally, based on Section 32, labelled “Community Intellectual Rights,” of the act, the tribe would also have the right to the restitution of its cultural property, if Nas Daily indeed did not have free and prior informed consent. 

“The State shall preserve, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures as well as the right to the restitution of cultural, intellectual, religious, and spiritual property taken without their free and prior informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs,” the section states.

“I believe that the problem can still be corrected if Nas Daily respects Kalinga culture and follows the law,” Castro finished.

From August 4 to August 6, over 306,900 users have unfollowed Nas Daily’s page, according to Facebook analytics tool CrowdTangle. Most of the unfollows, some 275,200, happened on August 5. – Rappler.com

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.