Nas Daily pauses Nas Academy after controversies over two of his Philippine projects

In a video posted on 9th August 2021, Nuseir Yassin, also known as Nas Daily, clarified his stance about the accusations he had received from The Cacao Project founder Louise De Guzman Mabulo with whom he had planned a video collaboration that did not come to be in the past.

He also gave updates in the same video about the Philippine operations of Nas Academy, in light of the controversy concerning its course involving 104-year-old traditional tattoo artist or mambabatok Whang-od from Kalinga.

After detailing how he and his team had started making content in the Philippines since 2017, Yassin maintained in the video that The Cacao Project is “fake” and that he is pausing Nas Academy’s Philippine operations while his team works with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to make sure his organization’s operations are legal.

Nas Daily states that The Cacao Project ‘exploits farmers’

According to Yassin, The Cacao Project had supposedly branded itself as a non-profit organization to help farmers. But he added that it turned out to actually be a for-profit that exploits farmers.

Video credit: Nas Daily Tagalog

“One day, unfortunately, we stumbled upon a fake story in the Philippines, which is the Cacao Project. On paper, it was supposed to be a non-profit that helps farmers. In reality, it’s a for-profit that exploits farmers. We said, we cannot do this video in good conscience. We cannot show you things that we are not confident of. We refused to make that episode, even if it would go viral. And that decision pissed off a lot of people,” he said in the video.

Nas Daily pauses Nas Academy - Aug 9 video
Screencap of Nas Daily’s video released on 9 August 2021.
Image credit: Nas Daily

In an email response sent to The Smart Local Philippines, the Nas Studios team said that they had come to the conclusion that the said project is politically and financially motivated.

“There are no Cacao trees that are not directly owned by the founder. We could not see evidence of education programs. We could not see evidence of actual work on the ground. We came to the conclusion that the project is a fraud and it’s both politically motivated and financially motivated. All 3 members of the video team who were on the ground have publicly expressed the same view, including locals,” the Nas Studios team shared with The Smart Local Philippines.

“We are in touch with Forbes and the UN to alert them of the situation (as they previously gave awards to this Project),” the Nas Studios team added.

They stated as well in their email, “The allegation that we made derogatory comments [towards Mabulo and team] is strictly not true. No such words have been said. We have a history of supporting local populations wherever we go. That’s why we visited her province in the first place.

“As a company, we stand by the truth. We have shared thousands of stories about thousands of people over the last 5 years. And we pride ourselves in showing the bright side of the world.

“Unfortunately, the Cacao Project is not that.”

Mabulo had earlier said that Yassin had wanted to produce ‘unrealistic’ content

Nas Daily pauses Nas Academy - Mabulo and Yassin
Louise Mabulo and Nas Daily
Image credit: Louise De Guzman Mabulo

The dispute between Yassin and Mabulo, which came after Whang-od’s grandniece Gracia Palicas had called out Nas Daily for launching a “Whang-Od Academy” course allegedly without the artist’s consent, started when Mabulo wrote a lengthy post on 5 August 2021, backed up by her father Fermin Mabulo, about her experience working with the content creator.

According to Mabulo, her partnership with Nas Daily had not worked out because the project’s farm had only been in its early stages when Yassin and his team had paid a visit, and were not what Yassin had imagined initially. She added that she had been honest about this with Yassin from the start.

“I was fully transparent on our phone call that I didn’t think my work would be something he’d be able to visualise, and that there’s too many factors to the work I do that wouldn’t possibly be covered in under a minute— and that maybe it would come to be the kind of content he wanted in five years time, but not now. In his story, he assumed that I’d replaced coconuts with cacao — when in reality, this was unrealistic and absurd, and not the goal of my venture, which is to diversify income streams for farmers. We mutually agreed it was best he should just leave,” Mabulo detailed in her Facebook post.

Mabulo had also accused Yassin of mocking and capitalizing on Filipinos and our culture, calling our farmers “poor.”

Nas Academy’s Philippine operations on hold

Following the controversies surrounding Nas Academy in the Philippines, Yassin also announced in his latest video that Nas Academy’s Philippine operations will be temporarily on hold as he and his team coordinate with the NCIP. “We paused Nas Academy for now to work with NCIP to make sure everything is legal,” he said in his video published on 9th August.

Yassin maintained he did not include Whang-od in his academy without her family’s permission. “In everything we do, we get permission. We worked with the family directly and got their consent,” he added in the same video.

On 5th August 2021, Nas Daily Tagalog also shared a video showing Whang-Od’s niece Estella Palangdao translating the Whang-Od Academy contract for her before she placed her inked thumbprint on the document.

nas academy website message
Image credit: Nas Academy

Nas Academy has also released a statement on its official website which you can view in full here.

Nas Daily addresses allegations against him in a video

Until there’s a clear third-party investigation, we await further clarification on what really transpired with Nas Daily’s partnerships with The Cacao Project and Whang-od, as either sides have been making claims against the other.

Here’s hoping all sides will soon find a common ground to settle their disagreements once and for all.

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Cover image adapted from: Nas Daily Tagalog, Nas Academy

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