Gentle. Generous. Humble.
This was the general consensus of those who knew former national table tennis player, former national coach, and former University of the Philippines Diliman athletic director Oscar Santelices, who passed away early Tuesday morning due to COVID-19. He was 59.
An outpouring of sympathy and prayers flooded the Facebook page of the well-liked mentor, led by UP-Diliman College of Human Kinetics dean Francis Diaz and the UP table tennis squad.
“Coach Osky had an impeccable work ethic as a faculty member of UP CHK. Hindi po matatawaran ang ibinigay at inalay na panahon ni coach Osky sa bawat varsity athlete na pinagsilbihan niya bilang varsity director (We are indebted to him for time and effort he gave to every varsity athlete served as varsity director,” Diaz said.
“Feeling heartbroken,” the dean posted on social media. “May eternal rest be granted and may our Lord’s perpetual light shine on you Coach Osky!”
The UP varsity team closest to his heart also paid tribute to the former national table tennis champion on his FB account.
Philippine Table Tennis Federation president Ting Ledesma said: “He (Santelices) was my coach when I was a member of the national team. I will surely miss him and the local table tennis community mourns his passing. He had contributed greatly to the development of our sport.”
How big-hearted was Santelices?
Former Philippine Women’s University varsity player Arvy Yuga Rojas reminisced about the late coach on Facebook.
Rojas described how she pleaded with the coach to accept her on the varsity team even though she knew little about table tennis, and because she couldn’t pay the school tuition.
She said she was surprised when Santelices awarded her with a full scholarship the next term on top making her the team captain.
Santelices’ younger sister remember her brother’s unselfishness.
“Thank you for everything Kuya! You were such a great inspiration and it’s so overflowing to know how you have touched so many people’s lives with your kindness and generosity. I love you so much Kuya Yoshi !!,” Strell Santelices-Alojado said in a social media post.
This writer was also privileged to rub elbows and play ping-pong with the kind-hearted man all the way from our college days at University of Santo Tomas when his varsity exploits were reported in the UST organ, the Varsitarian.
As we prayed for his recovery, one of the messages Oskie, as his friends called him, he texted was: “Thanks, my friend. You are one person dear friend who honored me for being what I am. Thanks for your support and prayers.”
He was referring to an old Sports Weekly feature on him in his prime and whose greying page he carefully kept in his scrap book.
A graduate and varsity player at UST, Santelices was the national champion in 1982.
He later played for the Philippine table tennis team for several years together with younger brother Eustaquio Santelices, and also became the secretary general of the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines under former president Victor Valbuena.
Santelices is survived by his wife Gwen and children Jose Lorenzo and Juan Miguel.
FROM THE ARCHIVES