MANILA - Star cager James Yap was all smiles on Wednesday as he finally reached an agreement with ex-wife Kris Aquino regarding the visitation and custody of their son, Bimby.
The former couple settled the matter at the Makati Regional Trial Court with presiding judge Cristina Sulit. According to Sulit, both parties agreed that Bimby will visit Yap regularly, once a week, starting March 7.
Sulit noted that Aquino's custody of Bimby, who is 6, will remain until he turns 18.
The agreement follows a tumultuous 3 years for the former couple, who faced each other in court several times over allegations that Yap "made amorous advances" on Aquino in front of their son, which he denied.
The two were married in civil rites in July 2005. Their marriage was declared null in February 2012, following allegations of infidelity on Yap's part.
In an interview aired on "Aquino & Abunda Tonight" on Wednesday, hours after the court meeting, Yap said he was surprised by how quickly he and Aquino managed to decide on the visitation of Bimby.
"Nagulat ako, ah! Pagpasok na pagpasok ko, iba 'yung ihip ng hangin ni... (points at Aquino) Ibang-iba ngayon, e. Parang love, love, love talaga, eh," Yap quipped, in reference to Aquino's popular experession.
"Thank you and naayos na ang lahat. Sana tuluy-tuloy na."
In a moment that drew laughs from those in attendance at the hearing, Yap teased Aquino about supposedly being in love, which the actress later confirmed in the live episode of her talk show.
"Gusto ko magpasalamat kay Kris na talagang okay na lahat at hindi siya galit sa akin... Kasi in love yata ito, eh," he said.
Turning serious, Yap went on to thank Aquino for raising Bimby well, amid her responsibilities in her career and to Josh, her son with actor Phillip Salvador.
"Siyempre, nagpapasalamat ako sa kanya sa pagpapalaki sa anak ko na talagang nakikita ko naman na mabait at tama 'yung pagpapalaki," Yap said. Thank you and na-appreciate ko naman. "Sisikapin ko na pantayan niya 'yung ginagawa niya sa anak namin."
Asked for his message to his son, Yap said, "Masasabi ko lang sa anak ko, kay Bimby, kay James, Jr., love na love kita at nandito kami ng nanay mo na inaayos talaga para mapalaki ka nang tama."
Kris 'sincerely happy'
Speaking shortly after Yap's interview aired, Aquino said she had been praying for the reconciliation. She said she was particularly moved by her ex-husband's acknowledgement of her being a responsible mother, adding she had long been waiting for it.
"I just wanted to say thank you kay James for acknowledging, kasi 'yun lang naman talaga, eh," she said. "I think lahat ng naghiwalay at nagkaroon ng problema, ang hinintay lang nila ay i-acknowledge na naging mabuting magulang, lalung-lalo na kung nasa poder mo. 'Yung sabihin na, 'Thank you, dahil you're doing a good job as a mother.'"
She added: "I think we have just one goal -- to be good parents to Bimb, to make sure that he becomes a good, productive, responsible and loving human being."
Aquino also expressed her happiness for Yap, who is now in a relationship with Italian national Michela Cazzola and whose team, San Mig Coffee, recently won the PBA Philippine Cup.
"James, sincerely, I'm happy for the happiness you're experiencing now," Aquino said. "Kung anuman 'yung kaligayahan mo, 'yung success mo, maligayang-maligaya ako para sa'yo dahil pinagkaloob sa akin ng Diyos ang napakalaking mga blessings, pinakamalaki na doon si Josh at si Bimb."
"So dapat lang talaga, huwag na tayo mag-away. Maging mature tayo. And as judge said, 'diba, we have the next 11 years to go in bringing up our son. And I think you will agree with me na naka-jackpot tayo kay Bimby talaga."