After learning all that he could about film in London, Abaya returned to the Philippines to set up the family’s own movie production outfit, Cine Filipinas, Inc.
After two years of college in the University of Santo Tomas, he went to England and took up a diploma course in filmmaking at the London International Film School.
Among his award-winning works as director of photography are: Karnal (Carnal), 1983, Urian and Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) awards; Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (Lend Me One Morning), 1989, with Eduardo Jacinto and Nonong Rasca, Urian and Star Awards; and Misis Mo, Misis Ko (Your Wife, My Wife), 1989, Star Awards. Abelardo went to the United States to train as scenic artist in early Hollywood films, such as Footlight Parade, 1933, and Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, 1936.
As film editor, he won the Urian award for Brutal, 1980, with co- editor Mark Tarnate. In local movies, he pioneered the art of cinematographic wizardry. His parents are Rafael Accion and Filomena Bautista.
His first film was Malaya, Mutya ng Gubat (Malaya, Muse of the Forest), 1948, starring Mila del Sol and Teody Belarmino.
He was assistant cameraman to Ray Lacap in Hantik (Black Ant), 1950, which won the Maria Clara best supporting actor award for Tony Santos Sr. He also photographed the prize winning Avellana documentary, El legado (The Legacy), 1959.
His other movies that received nominations in the best- cinematography category are: Tanikala and Working Girls, Urian; Brutal, Moral, and Desire, MMFF; The Graduates, Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa (You Were Merely Plucked From the Earth), and Nagbabagang Luha (Blazing Tears), Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) Awards; and Hari sa Hari, Lahi sa Lahi (King to King, Race to Race), Star Awards. To him have been attributed such awesome and wondrous cinematic effects as human princes turning into figures of stone and vice versa in Ibong Adarna (Adarna Bird), 1941; the fantastic floating castle in Prinsesang Basahan (The Princess in Rags), 1949; the biblical Red Sea parting at the stroke of a cane in Tungkod ni Moises (Moses’ Cane), 1952; handsome Jaime de la Rosa transformed into a horrifying bat creature in Taong Paniki (Bat Man), 1952; Bayani Casimiro dancing upside down from ceiling-to-wall-to-floor in Big Shot, 1956; and the terrifying giant reptile monster sowing havoc in Tuko Sa Madre Kakaw (Gecko at Madre Cacao), 1959. Francisco aka Botong Francisco for the production design of some films that he directed, among them: Haring Kobra (King Cobra), 1951, where a mythical Balinese country near the Philippines was created; and Higit sa Korona (Above the Crown), 1956, where the illusion of ancient Egypt provided the backdrop for the longest swordfight in local movie history. He finished high school at the University of Manila.
The other films Abelardo directed include: Malikmata (Phantasm) and Engkantada (Enchantress), 1948; El Diablo (The Devil), 1949; Mutya ng Pasig (Muse of Pasig), 1950; Ang Nuno Sa Punso (The Old Man on the Anthill) and Doctor X, 1950; Shalimar, 1951; Krus na Bakal (Iron Cross), 1954; Zarex, 1958; and Miranda and Lastik Man, 1966. He was married to Josette Collin Macalalag, sister of actor Mario Montenegro, with whom he had six children.
From the Asian Film Festival, he received the best cinematography award twice: the first time for Anak Dalita when it swept all the awards including best picture, and the second time for Badjao, when his work was singled out as best photography in black and white.
Through self-study, he learned how to operate a camera.
When Tolosa transferred to LVN, Accion was made assistant cameraman to cinematographers Remigio Young and Rafael Salumbides.
He became a full-fledged cinematographer in Kandelerong Pilak (Silver Candlesticks), 1954, which won for Lilia Dizon the best actress award in the Cambodian Film Festival. As actor, Accion appeared in films like Ang Lalaki (The Male), 1947; Sierra Madre, 1948; Tambol Mayor (Big Drum) and Kandidato (Candidate), 1949; In Despair, 1950; and Donato, 1954.
He was also the cinematographer of Malvarosa, 1958, which won for Rebecca del Rio the best supporting actress award in the 5th Asian Film Festival held in Manila. In his later years, he turned to movie directing and made Kung Kaya Mo, Kaya Ko Rin (If You Can Do It, I Can Do It, Too), 1979, with Christopher de Leon, and Coed, 1979, with Vilma Santos and Jay Ilagan.
The Citizens Council for Mass Media (CCMM) honored him for best cinematography for A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, 1965.