Prof. Oscar Yoshihiro S. Santelices, table tennis coach and varsity sports director of the UP Diliman (UPD) College of Human Kinetics (CHK), passed away on May 10 after succumbing to COVID-19. He was 59.
Coach Oskie, as Santelices was fondly called, will be remembered for his accomplishments and personality which endeared him to his professors, students, co-athletes, co-faculty and friends within and outside the world of sports.
Faculty. Santelices began in CHK in 1995. He served as Varsity Sports Director (2015-2020) and Chair of the Department of Sport Science (2012-2015). His areas of expertise are on Principles of Teaching, Research Methods, Tests and Measurements, and Sport Management.
Among his research works were “Personality characteristics of elite table tennis athletes of the Philippines: basis for a proposed recruitment program,” “Historical, traditional and cultural significance: the untold story of “liha” sandpaper rackets of table tennis in the Philippines” and “Factors affecting participation motives of selected table tennis teams.”
His students in both undergraduate and graduate levels thanked and appreciated Santelices in their Facebook posts, recalling he helped them with their studies, researches, and in the publication of their works in local and international sports science journals.
Coach. Santelices participated in various sports conferences here and abroad.
As coach, he led the UP Men’s and Women’s Table Tennis teams to a total of seven championships in the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP). The Men’s Team won the Season 61 crown (1998) while the Women’s Team won Seasons 60 to 63, 74 and 76 (1997-2000, 2011, 2013).
A memorable moment for UPD was the Women’s Team Season 76 championship. The team stunned undefeated De La Salle University Lady Paddlers as the Lady Maroon Paddlers overcame a thrice-to-beat disadvantage behind the efforts of Season 76 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Joma Sibal and Season 74 MVP Bea Magpantay.
According to a spin.ph article, Santelices served as a national coach in the early 1990s until 2004 when he became Secretary-General of the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines (TATAP).
Under his mentorship, players like Ernesto Ebuen, Joseph Cruz and Richard Gonzales, became legends in Philippine table tennis. Gonzales is the country’s number one player since 2014.
Santelices was coach of Philippine Women’s University, who won several championships in the Women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (WNCAA) in the mid-2000s under his tutelage.
In 2018, Santelices made headlines as one of his trainees, then 11-year-old Aljay Villena, stunned older, taller and more experienced players in the World Championship of Ping Pong in London.
He was Board Member of the Asian Council of Exercise and Sports Science; Vice President of the Sport Management Council of the Philippines; Vice President of the Sport Science and Physical Educators of the Philippines; and a scientific advisor of the Global Community Health Foundation.
For his feats, Santelices was known as an authority in Table Tennis. He would be tapped in many programs as host, among them in radio sports programs, “Isports Lang” and “Sports Science,” over DZSR Sports Radio 918 (now Radyo Pilipinas 2).
Athlete. Santelices was part of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) table tennis team that were four-peat UAAP champions (1979, 1980, 1981, 1982).
He was the Season 42 UAAP Table Tennis Rookie of the Year and Seasons 43, 44 and 45 Most Valuable Player. Santelices was honored as one of the league’s great athletes at the opening ceremony of UAAP Season 80 (2017-2018).
CHK lecturer Neil Patrick Ferrer in his Facebook post praised Santelices, and revealed that “Coach Oskie was acclaimed as the Best Junior Backhand in Asia in his early playing years.”
In one of his last Facebook posts, Santelices was hoping that both the Tokyo Olympics and Para Games will push through, citing the newly-constructed Yoyogi Olympic Stadium as one of the best indoor venues in Tokyo. “Brings back memories of the 1983 World Table Tennis Championships and my early years in Japan,” Santelices recalled. In another post in April 2021, he remembered former Japan National Team member Koji Oribe, who was once his teammate at the Seitakukai Table Tennis Club in 1984.
In 2014, Santelices and doubles partner Gregg Robertshaw were the silver medalists in the O50 (Over 50) Hardbat Doubles Event of the US Open Table Tennis Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Student. Santelices finished his BS Electrical Engineering degree from UST in 1984. He pursued a Diploma in Physical Education at Divine Word College of Legazpi and UPD and finished in 1997. He then earned his MS Physical Education in UPD in 2001.
For Coach Oskie. In its Facebook post, the UP alumni group NowhereToGoButUP made a call to help the Santelices family. Donations can be sent through GCash (09954255894; Nigel Santelices) or BPI (2749-1918-88; Juan Miguel Santelices).
Santelices is survived by his wife Gwen and their children.