EXCLUSIVE: The Rise Of A Style Icon—Jinkee Pacquiao Steps Out Of Her Husband's Shadow And Blooms Into The New Fashion Maven
Confident, humble, composed—these are the qualities that elevate an everyday fashionista to a bona fide woman of style according to Jinkee Pacquiao, a style icon on the rise whose take on fashion goes well beyond the surface and tells the story of the person within.
"Dati, hindi naman ako ganito. Pero ngayon, I want to look good. Masaya ako na nakikita ko 'yung sarili ko na [maganda], at na-a-appreciate ng iba. Mahilig talaga kasi akong manamit," begins Jinkee with a smile, her rouge cheeks and nude-pink glossy lips matching her signature feminine look perfectly.
Shifting in her seat to adjust her newly purchased polka dot Carolina Herrera dress, she goes on to reminisce on her childhood when basics like shoes and clothes—let alone jewelry, signature fragrances, limited edition handbags, and troves of cosmetics—were sparse. It was a time that would forever impact her approach to fashion and give meaning to every extravagant purchase she would make.
On Jinkee: Light blue strapless gown by Michael Leyva and jewels by Love Rocks
"Noong bata pa kami, hindi naman kami masyadong binibilihan ng damit ng nanay ko. Gusto niyang ipaulit sa amin 'yung damit, kasi minsan, siya lang 'yung naglalaba. 'Ulitin niyo 'yan ngayon, hanggang bukas' [sasabihin niya]," Jinkee tells Metro.Style.
"'Pag nakikita ko 'yung mga ibang classmates ko [na maganda 'yung suot], hanggang tingin na lang ako," she continues.
It was difficult, she explains, to be a young girl with ambitions to emulate the stylish women she saw in media and in person but be without the means to realize them.
But amidst the internal struggle—one that went beyond the woes of dressing up and instead reveals more the intricacies of a Filipino family trying to make ends meet—Jinkee soldiered on, finding ways to cope with the cards she had been dealt.
"Noong bata pa kami, hindi naman kami masyadong binibilihan ng damit ng nanay ko... 'Pag nakikita ko 'yung mga ibang classmates ko [na maganda 'yung suot], hanggang tingin na lang ako"
It began with saving her allowance as a teenager so she could shop for clothes she wanted—a habit that would eventually translate into knowing the value of money and the very real efforts that go into making it.
The next step was becoming a part-time beauty consultant at a local mall a few years later, a job Jinkee took in part to support herself as a working college student and one she felt could expose her to her two brightest passions, beauty and fashion.
The third step, and possibly the most important one, Jinkee says, was entrusting all to the Lord. Beautiful things, Jinkee might have been without, but unwavering faith, she always had, no matter when, no matter what, up until this very day when practically all conceivable comforts that this world can offer surround her 24/7. On bad days, she trusted God to give them purpose and grant her the clarity to uncover it. On good days, she attributed them to Him, still believing that they were heavenly blessings simply coursed through her.
"Kahit material na bagay, iniisip ko na [the Lord wants] me to enjoy this at blessing niya ito para sa akin," she declares.
As Jinkee was getting used to her new rhythm, her biggest blessing of all came in the form of love and by the name of Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, a young boxer who would go on to become one of the Philippines' most celebrated athletes of all time and whose name would be known the world over.
Like Jinkee, Manny didn't believe in chance and saw everything through the lens of God moving in mysterious ways. The couple saw their romance blossom into a relationship, and soon after, they got married and set to build a future together.
"Kahit material na bagay, iniisip ko na [the Lord wants] me to enjoy this at blessing niya ito para sa akin"
Without needing explanation, it didn't take long for the tides to turn and for Jinkee to be given what she had so greatly desired for as long as she could remember: the freedom to express herself through clothing and explore the endless twists and turns of fashion, locally and abroad.
As one might imagine, Jinkee enjoyed the process, immensely.
She scoured stores for gorgeous finds, browsed online for style inspirations, and was even one to turn to YouTube should she need help with a new makeup look. She's proudly self-taught, and it's a badge she wears with honor; after all, it's one that reflects how far she's gone and shows just how committed she was to fulfilling her promise to herself that one day, she, too, could be a woman people looked up to for her style.
"Lagi akong natatanong kung may stylist ako, pero ako lang talaga—damit, pati makeup, ako lang. Natuto ako... Kung ano lang 'yung maisip ko. It depends on my mood," she beams.
Bold hues, girly silhouettes, pastels accents, and patterned pieces dominate her social media feed, a fashion choice that one might say parallels her sunny, positive outlook on life that never once faded, even in her lowest of lows.
Having settled into her new reality just fine, Jinkee has also developed a more sophisticated approach towards fashion. Olivia Palermo and Heart Evangelista are her top style icons at the moment, two women she admires for both their beauty and drive.
Clothes and shoes by Valentino were her first-ever designer purchase, and the brand continues to be a sort of lucky charm for her and Manny; she makes sure to wear an item from the Italian fashion house every time the boxing champ has a fight.
You'll also see Jinkee insisting on at least one shopping spree every time she travels abroad. Rodeo Drive is an absolute must for her whenever she and her family head over to their Los Angeles pad, and it's there where she often visits her favorite boutiques like Hermès and Goyard. (But outlet shopping is always included in the itinerary too, she jokes).
And speaking of traveling, this pastime has since become a natural offshoot of Jinkee's growing interest in all things beautiful.
"Lagi akong natatanong kung may stylist ako, pero ako lang talaga—damit, pati makeup, ako lang. Natuto ako... Kung ano lang 'yung maisip ko. It depends on my mood"
On Jinkee: Top by Jil Sander, available at Homme et Femme, skirt by Versus Versace, available at Distinqt, heels by Escada, and jewels by Love Rocks
A sharpened sense of cultural appreciation has led Jinkee to appreciate places like the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Hong Kong, Japan, and more while treating her 1.2 million Instagram followers to regular posts of OOTDs from her international escapades and even at different corners in their home.
And yes—she does take forever and a half to pack for trips like these.
She makes jokes at her own expense while tucking stray hair strands behind her ears and says she never learns; she packs luggage after luggage of clothes, shoes, and accessories (after weeks of mixing and matching them) but ends up purchasing other items abroad that everything she brought with her remains untouched.
She's working on this, she teases.
Pushing aside the privileges Jinkee now enjoys—and despite the literal and figurative heights her high heels have helped her reach—her feet have remained planted on the ground, her head firm on her shoulders, and her heart in the right place.
Looking back at all the good that has come her way, Jinkee says, "Grateful talaga ako na blessed ako ng Panginoon. Naiisip ko na lang na after ng ilang months, meron ka nang [bagong gamit] kaya 'Thank you Lord.' Pag nagsho-shopping kami at inaayos ko na 'yung mga damit [na nabili ko], sinasabi ko na 'Lord, thank you para sa mga damit, blessing ito na galing sa'yo.' Ganyan ako—material man o iba ang natatanggap ko, blessing lagi."
"Matagal akong mag-pack 'pag magta-travel! Kung minsan, nilalatag at mina-match ko pa 'yung mga damit ko bago ako pumili"
On Jinkee: Top and skirt by Jil Sander, available at Homme et Femme and jewels by Love Rocks
It's this same brand of humility that has also encouraged Jinkee to live her life quietly, carefully choosing the occasions deserving of a head-to-toe designer ensemble rather than parading her collections, peacock-style, at every opportunity she gets.
"'Pag nagsisimba kami [as a complete family], doon lang naman ako naka-dress up. Hindi naman ako umaalis para sa mga events sa gabi. 'Yun lang talaga, pag mag-church kami. 'Yun 'yung special day for me. Sinasabi ko na lang na, 'Lord, ikaw naman ang nagbigay sa akin nito, kaya kailangan presentable naman ako for you,'" she explains.
It's a revelation that some might be surprised to learn, considering what they may have observed from Jinkee's social media presence that suggests flamboyance. The truth is, she isn't one to show off, and never will be—it's just not her style.
These days, aside from enjoying her closet's contents (which are organized by brand), Jinkee is a hundred percent satisfied to be caring for her home and making sure her family gets all it needs.
Her five kids are growing up—the girls taking after her love for fashion and the boys developing their own athletic dreams to be like their dad—and Manny is currently gearing up for an upcoming fight, leaving her to take on the multi-faceted role of mom and wife.
On her more relaxed days, she pursues her newest hobby: photography.
A recent camera investment is behind many of her prettiest OOTDs and travel shots, and funnily enough, she has taught her house helper how to take her photos too, and it becomes a whole production everyone plays a part in.
On (almost) not repeating clothes: "Inuulit ko din naman, pero matagal. Kung nasuot ko na—eh madami pa namang bagong damit at nakikita ko pa naman na hindi nasuot—matagal kong ulitin, siguro mga two years"
But more than the joy that her beautiful clothes gave her, it was the luxury of being able to focus on other things that Jinkee was most thankful for, for her new lease on life.
As a now fulfilled woman, she no longer worries if she'll ever achieve her aspirations or not, and it is this that she considers the underlying, yet truest and most valuable, gift of all.
Fashion, beauty, and the finer things might give color to her life, but it's the intangible pleasures like family, friends, and faith that she truly lives for.
Here are some of our favorite OOTDs of our cover star, Jinkee. Swipe through the gallery for outfit inspiration:
Photos from @jinkeepacquiao
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography by Gee Plamenco, Jr.
Creative direction by Butchie Peña
Makeup by Denise Go-Ochoa
Hair by Jay Wee
Styling by Maita Baello of Qurator Studio
Liaison editor: Francis Simeon
Video producer: Joan Ko
Videography by Gian Escamillas
Special thanks to Christian Mark Jacobs of Naked Patisserie and Te Amo Flowers