Legarda calls for stronger protection for IPs after Whang-Od controversy


A LAWMAKER recognized for her advocacy on local culture and the arts is pushing for the immediate passage of House Bill 7811 or the Traditional Property Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) Act to strengthen IP protection following recent controversies that highlighted the exploitation of culture and practices, including one that involved a foreign vlogger and traditional tattoo master Whang-Od Oggay.

The proposed law, filed in October last year, seeks to “give IPs full ownership of their cultural property” by creating a comprehensive cultural archive of different ethno-linguistic groups of the Philippines and mandates the payment of royalties for the use of cultural properties of IPs.

“We have to give more opportunities and stronger support for and protection to our IPs as embodied in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act,” Antique Rep. Lorna Regina “Loren” B. Legarda said on Tuesday.

Both Whang-Od, the oldest living traditional whatok (hand-tapped tattoo) artist, and Ms. Legarda are recipients of the country’s Dangal ng Haraya Award for Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The bill is pending in the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples.

Other IP-related pending bills filed by Ms. Legarda include House Bill 639 or Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Conserved Areas Act, and House Bill 7806 or the IP Resource Centers Bill.

Vlogger Nuseir Yassin, also known as Nas Daily, was called out by Ms. Oggay’s grandniece Gracia Palicas on Aug. 4 for being a “scam” after he put up an online tattoo workshop on his Nas Academy featuring Whang-Od for a fee of P750.

Mr. Yassin has taken down the course but not after asserting that he had Whang-Od’s consent.

Ms. Palicas, a whatok artist herself trained by her grandaunt as tradition dictates that the skill must be passed on to a blood relative, said Whang-Od was not clearly aware of the contract terms presented to her. — Russell Louis C. Ku

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