LOS ANGELES - Jinkee Pacquiao exudes the aura of a happy and contented wife, barely months after being portrayed, fairly or unfairly, as a bitter woman who was just about ready to leave her man.
Manny Pacquiao’s major transformation has a lot to do with it.
“He’s a changed man now. Ang laki na talaga ng pinagbago niya,” said the lovely wife of the 33-year-old Filipino ring icon.
Since turning to the Bible and renewing his faith in God, Pacquiao has abandoned the hard partying, womanizing and gambling that typified the lifestyles of high-profile athletes and celebrities like him.
These were the same issues that reportedly drove Jinkee to serve her husband with divorce papers on the eve of the boxing hero’s match against Mexican arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez last November.
Although the reports were later denied by the couple, an obviously distracted Pacquiao had to settle for a controversial majority decision against Marquez.
There are now no such distractions around Pacquiao, who comes to the gym early, his focus solely on training, and spends most of his spare time attending Bible studies.
So immersed are the Pacquiaos in their faith that they plan to take a trip to the Holy Land with their children Michael, Jimuel, Princess and Queenie after the fight.
Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum, who is Jewish, is arranging the trip.
Even after a tiring day in training, Pacquiao, also a congressman of Sarangani province, makes it a point to spend time with his daughters and play video games with his two sons on their iPads.
“He now spends more time with the kids,” Jinkee said.
For the first time too, Pacquiao’s children will be watching him fight live when he takes on American Timothy Bradley on Sunday (Manila time).
“Masaya siyempre dahil kasama ko `yung mga bata ngayon. First time yan,” said Pacquiao shortly after taking a late lunch Sunday afternoon at the end of the Bible service led by Pastor Jeric Soriano at the champion’s Palazzo apartment.
“Dati kasi lagi lang silang nasa Pilipinas kapag laban ko. Usually, hihintayin na lang nila ako doon. Ngayon kasama ko na sila dito,” he said.
If there’s one person happy to have their children around in the days leading to fight night, it’s Jinkee herself. “We’ll support him and we’ll pray for him to win,” she said.
Instead of the post-fight concerts that Pacquiao used to stage in previous years, the boxer plans to hold a Bible-preaching service the day after his match with Bradley.
He is also planning to hold a special inter-faith gathering at the Smart Araneta Coliseum later this year that will be open to everyone, regardless of religion.
Jinkee said she’s a hundred percent behind his husband.
“He’s the best. He’s a good provider, a good father,” she said. “He’s my partner, my king.”