Yesterday, Grace Palicas, Whang Od’s grandniece and apprentice to the tattoo traditions of the Bubut people—took to social media to warn people away from signing up for a Nas Academy course with her great-aunt’s name attached to it, calling the Whang Od Academy “a scam”.
Nas Academy, the masterclass-style offshoot of the Nas Daily digital brand, replied to Coconuts’ request for a statement by referring us to a public post on Facebook addressing the controversy. Accompanied by a video showing Whang-Od affixing her thumbprint to a contract, the post stressed that Whang-Od’s niece was present and did the translations for the venerable tattoo master. Furthermore, the Nas Academy team wanted us to know that “40% of Nas Academy is made up of Filipinos.”
The full statement reads:
There has been a post circulating online regarding our beloved Whang-Od Academy. The post claims that Whang-Od has no knowledge of the Academy and that this is a scam.
As a company, we have been champions of the Philippines from Day 1, so this makes us very sad to hear. Let us set the record straight.
We approached Whang-Od because just like you, we love her. 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. Her and her family present both loved this idea, and have worked WITH US 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. This is the clearest evidence that it is not a scam and achieved the consent of her and her immediate family.
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.
So naturally, when we saw the falsehoods circulating online, we were sad. The truth is often times not as simple as a “tweet”. And online falsehoods can be dangerous. Out of respect for her family, we temporarily took down Whang-Od Academy while we resolve any issues that have arisen from these falsehoods.
40% of Nas Academy is made up of Filipinos. So for us, this is personal. 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.
Thank you for supporting our mission!
The original posts by Grace Palicas remain offline, as does the Whang-Od Academy page, presumably sidelined until the parties sort out the disagreement.
Coconuts has reached out again to the Nas Academy team for further comment.