Nas Daily, aka Nuseir Yassin, isn’t just a vlogger—he’s a digital juggernaut, more brand than actual person. After “exploding” on Facebook and YouTube with his light one-minute videos, Yassin branched out from his usual content to launch Nas Academy in 2020. The online masterclass setup is offered to aspiring content creators and corporate teams with celebrities, influencers, and other notables in their field.
Among the newest courses is a class on The Ancient Art of Tattooing, under the “Whang Od Academy” with traditional tattoo artist Whang Od Oggay of Buscalan, Kalinga. For a relatively affordable price of P750, learners are offered lifetime access to the course materials (that’s three videos, ranging from four and a half minutes to over 18 minutes long) and two live sessions with trainers.
“Prepare to learn a 1000-year-old art form from the last Kalinga tattoo artist in the world: Whang-od. This 104-year-old legend will reveal all her rituals, tools and methods for making traditional tattoos. All packed in a course that’s unlike anything we’ve ever done before!” the sign-up page trumpets.
Sounds exciting, except that Grace Palicas—Whang Od’s grandniece and protegée—is warning people away from signing up to the course, calling the Whang Od Academy “a scam”.
Whang Od can be heard speaking through a translator in the videos on Nas Academy—and this may be part of the problem. In another Facebook post, Palicas explained that Whang Od had not signed a contract, and had not in fact understood what the Nas Academy team was saying: “Hello everyone. Whang Od Academy is not real. I spoke to her and she said she did not understand what the translators were saying.”
Although the course has been uploaded on the Nas Academy website, Palicas says that the venerable tattoo artist is not on board with the project. “Am sorry to tell you she will not be joining the @nasdaily. 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. I know you spoke to someone and gave some money and will share profits, but Apo Whang Od is not aware of your contract. Hope you sort this out. Thank you have a nice day.”
The posts have since been taken down on Facebook, and Nas Academy has taken down the Whang Od Academy Page. Coconuts has reached out to Grace Palicas and to the Nas Daily team for comment.
Whang Od Oggay is known as the “last” of the Kalinga mambabatok practicing the region’s traditional tattoo arts. She is from the Butbut tribe of the larger Kalinga ethnic group, and lives in the remote Buscalan village.
Although Whang Od has a number of students, only her two grandnieces, Grace Palicas and Ilyang Wigan, are considered the real apprentices and heiresses to the tradition.
This article, Nas Daily set up a Whang-Od Tattoo Academy, but Whang Od may not have signed off on it, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.