The Nas Daily-Apo Whang Od controversy has reached Congress.
This, after incumbent Laguna Representative Dan Fernandez on Saturday, August 7, urged two House of Representatives committees to conduct a congressional inquiry in aid of legislation into the on-going controversy involving allegations of exploitation of renowned Filipina tattoo artist Apo Whang-Od by popular Palestinian-Israeli vlogger Nuseir Yassin of Nas Daily.
Fernandez said the investigation can be jointly conducted by the House Special Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts and the Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples.
The actor-turned-politician disclosed that the congressional probe will focus on allegations that Yassin had manipulated Apo Whang Od into agreeing to a one-sided contract for the vlogger’s website.
Fernandez said he will immediately confer with Pangasinan Rep. Christopher VP De Venecia to launch the probe as soon as regular works in the Lower House resumes. He added that the participation of the indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples panel in the probe is equally important.
A member of the creative industry and performing arts panel, Fernandez said he will file the resolution proposing for a congressional inquiry as soon as the ECQ period ends this month.
“Our main purpose is to determine whether or not Filipino artists are sufficiently protected by law against exploitative practices,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez said the Whang Od-Nas Daily controversy has brought to fore the need for government to carry out programs that will not only further develop the skills and artistic talents of Filipinos but also extend to them financial assistance.
“Filipinos like Apo Whang Od should be encouraged to further perfect their craft and this can be done if we are able to protect them against exploitation and financially support them,” he explained.
The scandal started after Gracia Palicas, Whang Od’s grandniece, came out in public to assail Nas Daily for allegedly “taking advantage” of the Igorot culture when the vlogger created the Whang Od academy that offered courses on traditional tattoo making.
Whang Od reportedly consented to the deal by affixing her thumbmark to a contract prepared by Nas Daily. Questions were raised on the fairness of the contract stipulations.
Whang Od is a popular member of the Butbut community in Kalinga province and has been known for her mastery of Kalinga’s tattooing practice.