Lapulapu as portrayed in the Mobile Legends game

For most Filipinos, especially those from Cebu, Lapulapu remains an iconic figure in Philippine history. His image is ubiquitous, gracing statues and artworks across the country. However, there is a lingering uncertainty about what he truly looked like. This ambiguity has sparked debates among historians, public officials, and the general populace. Some even question whether Lapulapu was a real historical figure or a mythical embellishment responsible for the demise of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

The Challenge

Many of the depictions of Lapulapu we encounter today are recent creations, based on interpretations of old Spanish illustrations of ancient Filipinos. In 2020, the National Historical Commission unveiled a painting by Carlo Caacbay as the โ€œfaceโ€ of Lapulapu, supported by research conducted by historian Danilo Gerona. Gerona consulted Gaspar Correaโ€™s 1563 book โ€˜Lendas da Indiaโ€™ and the famous Boxer Codex from the 1590s to establish an approximate age for Lapulapu during the Magellan expedition.

Envisioning Lapulapuโ€™s Face with AI

The idea arises: What if we use artificial intelligence and machine learning to imagine what Lapulapu might have looked like based on the artistic style of the 16th century? Though AI wonโ€™tโ€ฆ