NCIP says Whang-od did not give consent to teach online tattooing course on Nas Academy

Published August 30, 2021, 1:26 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The country’s revered and oldest mambabatok Apo Whang-od did not give her consent and was not aware that she would teach the Kalinga art of tattooing on Nas Academy, based on the results of the probe conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) this month.

Apo Whang-od (Photo from NCCA by Marvin Alcaraz)

The NCIP, an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), released on Sunday night, Aug. 29, its findings and the recommendations on the controversy involving Whang-od and Nas Academy, the online ed-tech platform of Palestinian-Israeli vlogger Nuseir Yassin also known as Nas Daily.

It noted that its findings and recommendations were based on the interview personally conducted by NCIP-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) Regional Director Atty. Marlon Bosantog with Maria Oggay, popularly known as Apo Whang-od and her family. Bosantog went to Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga on Aug. 17 to meet with Wang-od, the elders and leaders of the community to tackle the issues involving Nas Daily Academy.

“Apo Whang-od did not consent or was made aware to teach the Kalinga Art of tattooing in Nas Academy,” the NCIP said in a two-page statement released on Sunday night.

It said Whang-od, now 104 years old, was “not aware of any contract” and that “she did not affix her thumb mark in any contract.”

“When the validation team compared the thumb mark affixed by Apo Whang-od in the contract to that of one she affixed in a clean piece of paper, there is apparent disparity. The same is now the subject of further forensic study,” it said after reviewing the contract.

On 17 August 2021, NCIP-CAR Regional Director Atty. Marlon Bosantog headed to Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga to personally…

Posted by National Commission on Indigenous Peoples on Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Commission also noted that no provision of the contract was explained or discussed to her or to her representative.

Quoting Stella Palangdao, representative of Whang-od, it said the provisions of the contract were not explained to them, except that they were made to sign the contract of filming, interview, photography, and release of such.

“The contract was grossly onerous on the part of Apo Whang-Od,” it pointed out.

The contract, the NCIP said, states that the Nas Academy has exclusive ownership of any content that that show would produce including the likeness, image, voice of Wang-od.

It added that such ownership “is in perpetuity, inclusive of the right alteration and the right to assign and transfer the same without consent.”

“Furthermore, the law of Singapore shall govern said contract.”

The NCIP likewise concluded that teaching the art of tattooing as a cultural expression in an online platform accessible to millions of people “would render it generic and thus it would lose its authenticity and cultural meaning.”

“This would also discourage the next generation to learn and carry on with the tradition. The online platform can also lead to the demise of their culture driven tourism industry,” it said.

The Commission said this was the sentiment and collective affirmation of the elders and traditional leaders during the dialogue.

Following its probe, the NCIP came up with five recommendations :

-As provided under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (Republic Act No. 8371), the consent of the community must be sought if it involves the indigenous knowledge system and practices of the community;

-Proponents/Researchers must notify the concerned agencies, including the NCIP and the local government units before conducting any activities within the ancestral domain;

-Should Apo Whang-od and/or the community pursue legal actions, NCIP will provide legal assistance;

-Visitors who are dealing with Apo Whang-od must be culturally sensitive and shall exert proper and due diligence considering her stature as a culture bearer of the community; and

-Policy considerations and legislative adjustments are required in order to protect and persevere indigenous intellectual property rights.