The National Commission on Indigenous People - Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR) released a statement on the controversial issue involving Nas Academy and Apo Whang-Od.
The NCIP-CAR said in its statement that the Kalinga tattoo artist did not consent to teach the Kalinga Art of Tattooing on the online learning platform Nas Academy.
NCIP-CAR recently went to Buscalan in Kalinga to investigate the issue led by NCIP-CAR Regional Director Marlon Bosantog who personally talked to the 104-year-old “mambabatok.”
“Apo Whang-Od is not aware of any contract and she did not affix her thumb mark in any contract for this account,” wrote the NCIP-CAR in its statement released on Sunday, August 29.
NCIP-CAR also said it found out that Nas Academy did not explain or discuss the provisions of the contract and “what was assured of her is external to the terms of the contract.”
Whang-Od’s grandniece revealed to NCIP that the provisions of the contract were not explained to them. She also said that they were made to sign the contract of filming, interview, and photography and the release of all those that were mentioned.
The NCIP also questioned the thumb mark allegedly affixed by Whang-Od on the contract, saying: “The same is now the subject of further forensic study.”
The NCIP-CAR further said that the contract was “onerous” as it said that Nas Academy would have exclusive ownership of “any content that the show would produce.” It added that the law of Singapore “shall govern the said contract.”
The NCIP said it would provide assistance should Whang-Old and her community decide to pursue legal action.
Meanwhile, the agency also warned visitors to be “culturally sensitive” in dealing with Whang-Od.
It also said researchers should advise NCIP and concerned local government units before conducting any activities with regards to the ancestral domain.
But the issue involves also involves Whang-Od’s tribe as consent must be secured from them as per Philippine laws.
The leaders in Buscalan told NCIP said the “teaching of [tattooing] in an open platform accessible to millions of people would render it generic and thus it would lose its authenticity of cultural meaning.”
Nas Academy had previously announced that it will halt operations in the country in the wake of the controversy.
Whang-Od, on the other hand, is considered one of the most influential traditional artists in the country, with the National Commission on Culture and the Arts among those who have recognized her contributions to the country.