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Nas Academy reconciles with Whang-Od, says sorry, and states contract is now 'null and void'

By Bim Santos Published Oct 25, 2021 11:45 am

Months after being embroiled in a controversy that sparked widespread public backlash, Nas Academy has appeared to have patched things up with Apo Whang-Od and other stakeholders.

The team behind Nas Academy travelled to Buscalan —the village in Tinglayan, Kalinga that Whang-Od and the Butbut calls home — to reconcile, say sorry, and start anew by declaring the previous contract null and void.

The scandal started when Nas Academy put up a masterclass course early this year where the public can pay to sign-up and hear various personalities, including Whang-Od, talk about their craft.

But last August, Grace Palicas, Whang-Od's grandniece and protegé, stated in a now-deleted Facebook post that the masterclass was a “scam” as Whang-Od supposedly did not sign any contract. 

Nas Academy denied the allegation of Palicas, but other stakeholders maintained the contract was problematic due to a lack of sufficient stakeholder consultation, among other contentions.

The supposed meeting was publicized in a press release from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and a video posted by Nas Daily on their Facebook page.

“Our genuine focus is on education and our efforts to showcase the culture of the butbut tribe was misunderstood,” Jacqueline Lim, head of Nas Academy Philippines, in Nas Academy’s video.

In the video produced by Nas Daily, a Butbut Tribe Leader named Miguel Atumpa was also quoted as saying that the community wants to declare the contract null and void so a new memorandum of agreement can be done. Whang-Od was also shown in Nas Daily’s video thanking the team.

According to the NCIP, present in the meeting were Whang-Od, her family, IP elders, community members, as well as representatives from the NCIP and Nas Academy.

“It was good that the Nas Academy came over to convey their apology to the Butbut of Buscalan regarding the misunderstanding among the company, community, and Whang-Od family,” NCIP said in a press release. “The community through their elders thanked the Nas Academy for their sincere apology and requested that for the next time, they must follow the procedure since the art of tattooing is not practiced by the Butbut alone.”