Richard Abelardo

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Richard Velayo Abelardo (29 September 1902 – 27 August 1993) was a Filipino film director.

Early life[edit]

Adelberto was born to Juan Henson Abelardo, a painter, and Cecilia Velayo in San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan, Philippines.

At a young age, he joined a band as a piccolo player on a ship destined for California. Upon arriving in California, he jumped ship.

He stayed with an American family as a gardener and painted in his free time. The family noticed that he had artistic talent in more areas than gardening. He was hired as a service painter in theaters with the Flag Company. He joined the union and secured a painting job at Universal Studios. Proving himself at Universal, he was given work at Warner Brothers, and MGM. He observed and learned quite a bit about the craft of making films.


He married an embroiderer from Malate and had two girls, Louise and Rita. He paid for his brother, Bayani's, education as a camera man. His wife, Salud (née Carmona), learned how to be a make-up artist. In 1935, the whole family went back to the Philippines due to the Depression. Isang Tapales, an opera singer, asked him to be the art director for her play, Madame Butterfly. He was renowned for his exciting and realistic scenic backgrounds. Pacita Madrigal, a famous ballet dancer, hired him for the Fire Dance.

He later began a relationship with film director Maria Saret, with whom he had six children.

Abelardobecame Art Director for Vicente Salumbides Film (Florante and Laura) and painted castles and battlegrounds. He also worked for Exotic Productions and F. Poe.

Dona Sisang de Leon of LVN saw his work and made him art director for all their film productions until he rose to the Directorship.

Abelardo's most famous films were:

El Diablo – starring Leopoldo Salcedo and Rebecca Gonzales, script written by him based on the story, Faustus, one of the first Filipino movies that had the main lead die. Many trick shots were displayed here.

Mutya ng Pasig – based on the music of his famous cousin, Nicanor Abelardo

Richard Abelardo was noted for the special effects he employed in his films.

In Encantada, he showed his superb camera work by the aging changes in Dizon.

In Kambal sa Sinukuan, starring Rogelio de la Rosa, Rogelio played three persons and the film showed them touching one another.

In Ibon Adarna, with the help of his brother, Bayani, people were transformed into stone. With the help of the make-up department, every shot was just perfect. It was the first use of color in Filipino film. The change to color occurred while the bird was singing.

His best known movie was Malik Mata, which showed the transformation of a bat into a man.

Abelardo was also the first director to introduce kissing in Filipino movies with Rosa Rosal being the first actress to do so.

During the Japanese occupation, he made scenic art for the different staged under his directorship.

He developed staging for opera productions such as Lucia de Lammermoor, Red Expositions, and Hansel and Gretel.

He was a very talented person. He wrote stories, scripts, developed camera techniques, in addition to playing the piano and flute.

He died on August 27, 1993 in Quezon City.


  • 1948 - Malikmata (In the Wink of an Eye)
  • 1950 - Mutya ng Pasig (The Muse of Pasig)
  • 1950 - Nuno sa Punso
  • 1950 - Doble Cara (Two-Faced)
  • 1950 - Doctor X
  • 1951 - Shalimar
  • 1951 - Haring Cobra (King Cobra)
  • 1953 - 3 Labuyo
  • 1954 - Krus na Bakal (Metal Crucifix)
  • 1955 - Mariang Sinukuan
  • 1955 - Anak ng Berdugo (Son of the Executioner)
  • 1956 - Big Shot
  • 1956 - Higit sa Korona (More than the Crown)
  • 1957 - Conde de Amor (Count of Love)
  • 1957 - Si Meyor Naman (Oh Mayor)
  • 1958 - Zarex

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