Singapore — Popular vlogger Nuseir Yassin of the Nas Daily fame is finding himself embroiled in not only one but two controversies in the Philippines. In the fallout, he lost 72,200 followers between Aug 4 and 5 alone.
Ms Mary Pauline Del Rosario, the head of social media for The Philippine Star, tweeted a screenshot of the chart of Mr Yassin’s followers showing a steep downward incline from Wednesday to Thursday of this week, based on data taken from CrowdTangle, a public insights tool owned and operated by Facebook.
“LOOK: Nas Daily Facebook page records 72.2K unfollows from August 4-5, 2021 following Nas Academy’s Whang-Od online tattoo course issue,” she wrote.
Mr Yassin trended in the Philippines after Ms Grace Palicas, the grandniece and protegée of the 104-year-old indigenous tattoo artist Whang Od Oggay, called the online course offered on Nas Aacdemy The Ancient Art of Tattooing, under the “Whang Od Academy”, a scam.
The highly revered Whang Od is the last of her generation practising the ancient tattooing method of her tribe, and her two grandnieces, Ms Palicas and Ms Ilyang Wigan, are recognized as her apprentices in the art.
In a now-deleted Facebook post, Ms Palicas wrote that her grandmother did not sign a contract with Nas Daily to do the online course, and appealed to the public to help stop the “disrespect to the legacy of Apo Wjang Od and the Butbot tribe.” The tattoo artist’s niece further claimed that the elderly woman “did not understand what the translators were saying.”
The course, which had been offered for 750 Philippine pesos (SGD 20), included three videos and two live sessions with trainers but has since been taken down from the Nas Academy landing page for courses from the Philippines.
The backlash came quickly, with many Filipinos expressing outrage.
But Nas Academy issued a statement denying that Whang Od was unaware of the contract.
“We pitched her family the idea of creating Whang-Od Academy. Her and her family present both loved this idea, and have worked WITH US to build it, with Whang-Od teaching herself. As a matter of fact, Whang-Od’s trusted niece, Estella Palangdao, was present and translated the content of the contract prior to Whang-Od affixing her thumbprint, signifying her full consent to the project. This is the clearest evidence that it is not a scam and achieved the consent of her and her immediate family,” the team said in a Facebook post.
The Nas Daily team also underlined that “we have been champions of the Philippines from Day 1” and that “40% of Nas Academy is made up of Filipinos. So for us, this is personal.”
However, on the same day that Nas Daily issued the statement, social entrepreneur Louise Mabulo published a Facebook post also narrating her experience with Mr Yassin.
Ms Mabulo, an awardee for The Cacao Project, her work with farmers in the north of the Philippines, wrote that the vlogger had mocked Filipinos for being poor.
Moreover, she wrote in a much-shared post, “He said no one wants to hear about farmers or farms, it’s not clickable viewable content. He didn’t care about making change or shedding light on real issues— he only wanted content, a good, easy story to tell that would get him more Filipino views.
He even joked at the start of the day that all he needed was to put ‘Philippines’ in the title, and he’d rack in millions of views would and the comments would come flooding with brainless ‘Pinoy pride’ comments.”
Mr Yussein also refuted her claims, telling her not to “share online falsehoods. That is borderline illegal.”