Catriona Gray’s handlers, Panlasang Pinoy weigh in on Nas Academy controversy

August 9, 2021 - 12:21 PM
Left: Catriona Gray crowned Miss Universe 2018. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) Right: A photo of vlogger Vanjo Merano, the person behind Panlasang Pinoy (Panlasang Pinoy via FB)

Two personalities who were supposed to hold classes at Nas Academy finally weighed in on the allegations surrounding the online learning platform.

Catriona Gray’s label, Cornerstone Entertainment, advised that it will not accept new applicants until the controversy on the learning platform has been resolved.

Food blogger Panlasang Pinoy, meanwhile, has canceled plans to collaborate with the company.

Nas Academy run by Palestinian-Israeli vlogger Nuseir Yassin known as Nas Daily came under fire this month over allegations of cultural exploitation for its course offering on traditional Kalinga tattoo practices called “Whang-Od Academy.”

READWhang-Od’s apprentice finds Nas Daily course offering exploitative

What they said

In a statement on Sunday, August 8, Cornerstone Entertainment noted that all parties have agreed with their decision, including former Miss Universe Gray.

“Cornerstone Entertainment, Catriona Gray and NAS Academy have agreed to stop accepting new applicants for the Catriona Gray Academy until the issue of ‘Whang-Od’ has been fully resolved,” it said.

“NAS Academy is currently committed to working with the NCIP to make sure all proper processes are followed. Cornerstone will continue to monitor the progress of this incident,” it added.

While Gray’s fans welcomed this response on the issue, some Filipinos hoped that she and her label would cut ties with the academy permanently.

“I just hope they cancel and refund,” one user said.

“Why not totally cut off your ties from these leeches?” another user wrote.

Prior to this, Vanjo Merano, who is behind Panlasang Pinoy, stated a more determined response.

“PP Academy (Panlasang Pinoy Academy) was in the works under the Nas Academy platform, but I decided not to purse in support to Apo and the exploited Pinoy hospitality!” Merano said with the Philippine flag emoji.

He also used the hashtag #icandoitonmyownanyway.

Panlasang Pinoy, a content creator who posts Filipino and Asian food recipes and lessons, boasts of more than 6 million followers on Facebook and at least 4.7 million subscribers on YouTube.

His followers backed him up in his decision. His post earned 49,000 reactions wherein 29,000 were likes and 19,000 were heart emojis.

Philippine operations paused

After a slew of consistent backlash, Yassin’s platform announced it will be temporarily pausing operations in the Philippines.

They also said they are willing to work with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, which last week announced will be conducting an inquiry into Nas Academy’s deal with Whang-Od.

“We are committed to working with the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) to ensure that all proper processes are followed. Meanwhile, we will be pausing our operations in the Philippines to focus on strengthening our processes around how we collaborate with our partners,” they said.

“We have full respect and belief in both the Filipino people and culture, which is why we chose the Philippines as one of the first places to build Nas Academy,” they added.

Lawyer Marlon Bosantog of the NCIP-Cordillera Administrative Region had said that the intellectual property rights of the entire Kalinga community, not just from Whang-Od herself, has to be considered in an agreement such as that with Nas Academy.

“Indigenous Peoples have Intellectual Property claims to cultural expressions and there are issues of cultural intellectual property that intersect in the art of Apo Whang-od,” he said in a statement.