The late former Philippine Daily Inquirer sports editor Teddyvic Melendres, who passed away in his sleep on December 25, Christmas Day, at 60, and this writer shared two things besides being sportswriting comrades-at-arms.
Although on separate occasions, both of us worked for the Journal Group of Publications, still headed by Augusto B. Villanueva, the doyen of local sportswriters, Ted, as he preferred to be called, cut his teeth there as the able deputy of People’s Journal sports editor Joe Antonio before being pirated by its news desk.
Both of us likewise got to ply our trade overseas in the 90s — Melendres took his journalistic chops to the HKiMail (now the Standard) in Hong Kong, after being wooed by his former Daily Express colleague Reggie Amigo.
(We went off to work for the English broadsheet Saudi Gazette as assistant sports editor in the “upside-down world” of Saudi Arabia for a spell.)
Those were the days when Filipinos toiling abroad were known as “overseas contract workers,” renamed to “overseas Filipino workers,” or OFWs for short.
Known for being a stickler for detail, strong work ethic and efficiency, it was not surprising for him to rise to the top as Inquirer sports editor. He confided once it was not given to him on a silver platter, as we shared expat anecdotes in a gathering of scribes at the PSC-POC Media Group hangout inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
“When we were still at the Journal, Teddyvic would not eat until our pages were put to bed. This was why Dodo (Catacutan, current Spin.ph sports editor) and I were embarrassed to leave him behind even when we felt hungry,” recalled former PJ colleague Gabby Alvarado.
In the days when newspaper production was done manually, the Hong Kong-based Alvarado often remembered Melendres getting the stripping knife to make the corrections on the sports pages himself before they were printed.
“Saka pulido ang layout niyan. Sulat kamay ang drawing pero sa linaw at detalyado, puwede mo na i-print. (His layout on the dummy was so fine, his writing and drawing so clear and detailed that it was good to print).”
Best of all, Alvarado fondly credited Melendres for launching his career as a sportswriter.
“I have only ever worked for three publications as a sportswriter — and Teddyvic Melendres is a big reason why I’ve landed in each of them. So you could say he gave me a livelihood,” he said in his Facebook tribute to his friend and colleague.
“Ted opened the door, as a wet-eared correspondent for Champ magazine in 1986. Not long after, he took me to People’s Journal, where he was then assistant sports editor. I left then for the Standard . . . again thanks to Ted.
“When they needed a sub-editor for the sports section (for the HK Standard), he (Melendres) gave my name to the bosses and the job was mine. No interview was required. Twenty years later I am still here.”
Melendres had an unmistakable eye for talent and in giving promising scribes a break, among them former Inquirer Sports Staff regular and football writer Cedelf Tupas.
“Thank you for everything, sir. Even though I always felt I wasn’t good enough, you never stopped believing and gave me opportunities to prove myself,” said Tupas in his own personal tribute on Facebook.
Melendres was an avowed football enthusiast and apparently found a kindred spirit in Tupas, who was recruited all the way from football hotbed of Bacolod.
“You (Melendres) were an amazing boss and truly great friend . . . I’m so glad to have worked under you. You demanded excellence in your unique humble way. You always treated the staff like family and reminded us that we were indeed family,” he reminisced.
As a colleague, Alvarado best summed up who Melendres, a 2-time Philippine Sportswriters Association president, was to those who knew him well.
“So should I say Ted has an eye for talent? Perhaps. But I'd rather think of it this way: That's just how Ted takes care of his friends. Thanks for everything, Ted. God bless you,” Alvarado said.
In another sense, Melendres was an OFW true and true, one who finished well.
Melendres, who retired from Inquirer as senior news desk editor in 2017, is survived by wife Maria Nelanie and sons Ted Andrei, Ted Leonid and Ted Sergei and sisters Julie, Myrna, Emmie and Glacie.