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Manny and Jinkee Pacquiao scheduled to meet with President Obama in the White House

>> Monday, February 7, 2011

MANILA, Philippines - Manny Pacquiao is going to the White House.

In what could be another first, the Filipino boxing champion who also happens to be a congressman will get to meet US President Barack Obama next week in Washington.

Pacquiao has confirmed his visit to the White House although everyone around him wouldn’t talk, as if there was a gag order.

“Yes, we already have the invitation to the White House,” Pacquiao told the Philippine Entertainment Portal in a rare interview, saying that his wife Jinkee will be with him during the visit.

Pacquiao will be the first Filipino athlete ever to make an official visit to the White House, and he’s also probably the first professional boxer to meet the sports-minded Obama.

Obama loves to play basketball as much as Pacquiao does, and when they meet, briefly perhaps, they will surely talk about boxing as well, and a little bit of politics.

Pacquiao leaves tomorrow evening for Los Angeles for a whirlwind press tour to promote his May 7 fight with Shane Mosley.

Team Pacquiao will be at the Beverly Hills Hotel in LA on Feb. 10, then at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Feb. 12 and at the Chelsea Pier in New York on Valentine’s Day.

From New York, Pacquiao will take the train to Washington, on a special coach with 60 seats, loaded with boxing people, led by the ageless fight promoter Bob Arum and members of media.

Mosley will stay behind in New York, and Pacquiao will take the three-hour ride to Washington for another press conference at the office of Sen. Harry Reid on Feb. 15, and the trip to the White House.

Obama can receive Pacquiao at the Oval Office or meet him over lunch or dinner perhaps, depending on the schedule. The PEP report said first lady Michelle Obama will be there, too.

Pacquiao said it’s a rare opportunity that Filipinos should be proud of.

“Of course, I’m excited because it’s been a dream to meet President Obama. I will never forget this as a part of my life because I admire him (Obama) so much,” said Pacquiao, in his first term as a Filipino congressman.

“It’s heartwarming that he recognizes us. I am proud to be a Filipino and I will take this pride to the White House.”

Arum, through Senator Reid, his dear friend, worked hard to make the visit possible.

An insider, however, said only the Pacquiaos will get near President Obama, and members of the boxer’s entourage will have to wait somewhere else inside the White House.

The Pacquiao-Obama meeting was supposed to take place last November, after the Filipino champion defeated Antonio Margarito in Dallas. He was doing a concert in San Francisco when the chance came, and his adviser, Mike Koncz, already had a private plane on standby to fly Pacquiao to Washington.

But a sudden change in the President’s schedule got in the way. This time, however, it’s green and go, and the only thing that could stand in the way is probably a snowstorm that would block all entrances to the White House.

Jinkee is also thrilled with the meeting, and said she’s ready with what to wear.

“I don’t know what to do or what to say when we get there. I might freeze when I see the Obamas in front of me. Let’s see what happens. I hope I don’t get nervous and jittery,” said Jinkee.

Jinkee said she’d be at her best.

“I’ve already chosen one. But I’m still looking at other dresses. I want Manny to be proud of me. I must be presentable. I’m sure First Lady Michelle Obama will be dressed to the hilt. I hope she likes mine, too,” said Jinkee.

But anything would surely go well with a $50,000 (P2.1 million) Birkin.

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