Get to know the winners of the 1st Philippine Pole Cup

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Get more personal with the three Filipinos who won the amateur women’s and men’s, and semi-professional category in this year’s Philippine Pole Cup—how they discover pole dancing, their preparations for the PPC, and what to expect in this new fitness activity.


Ernie “Jay” Doncillo is a full-time IT student, pole dancer on the side. The junior in the family, Jay strengthens his pole dancing skills with discipline, dedication, and builds good relationships with new friends in pole dancing—the reason he was named champion in the amateur men’s category.

When did you discover your passion in pole dancing?

It was in 2013 and my friends encouraged me to try pole dancing. Before I tried it, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was doing yoga as my fitness activity already, and then some of my friends invited me in this recital. When I witnessed the recital I was really amazed—how could they do that to their body?

I’m the kind of person that once faced a challenge; I’m more motivated to do what they can do, too.

Since then, I enjoy it every time I’m pole dancing instead of the typical routine I do inside the gym. I find gyms to be boring because you’re just going to listen to music doing the same thing or run on a treadmill, lifting weights, I think it’s cliché for me.

I tried pole dancing and eventually became a hobby for me.

How did you started out in pole dancing? How was the transition from yoga to pole dancing?

Yoga helped me a lot because I learned different techniques especially in breathing—that’s very important in pole. Similar to yoga, proper breathing is important especially if you’re doing inversions [a technique in pole dancing]; it’s really a must because you have to limit your breathing once you’re upside down.

With yoga, I was trained how to breathe properly and it was an advantage for me.

Ernie _Jay_ Doncillo, Champion Amateur Men Category

Ernie “Jay” Doncillo, Champion Amateur Men Category

Is Philippine Pole Cup your first competition in pole dancing?

To be honest, since 2013 there were several pole competitions already and everyone’s telling me to join. Honestly, I have this stage fright so I often decline their offers, but then eventually this year nakulitan ako. That’s why I was thinking that this is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity might as well grab it baka mawala pa habang kaya ko pa.

What were your preparations for the competition?

The training took me 3 months because before you can join the competition you need to submit an audition video. Since I was hesitating on whether I’ll push through or not, I sent the audition tape three days before so yon mga stock knowledge na routine lang. I wasn’t expecting that I’d get in then two weeks later I got an email from PPC informing me that I was one of the finalists for amateur men’s category. Dun pa lang nagsink in na this is it, paninindigan ko na talaga ‘to.

November [2016] that time I don’t have any background in dancing, more on basic lang. for the preparation for the PPC I asked a friend who is a dancer to teach me some basic hip-hop moves since that was my concept for the competition.

Jay shares her passion in pole dancing with the Zen Health team during an interview

Jay shares her passion in pole dancing with the Zen Health team during an interview

How did you come up with the concept and routine?

Personally, it was my choice of song. If you’re familiar with Virtual Insanity music video, he’s wearing all black and a hat—his moves were funky and jazzy.  I thought I could incorporate his music video in my piece for the PPC.

In pole dancing, you need to have a skin contact with the pole as much as possible. Instead of wearing full black long sleeves, I wore sleeveless and suspenders. But still the challenge there is showcasing that whatever I’m wearing—a hat or any accessories—I can still do my routine.

What was going on your mind when you were on stage?

Honestly, I was not myself. Since it’s my first time to compete I’m really nervous because I have no idea what will happen. Siguro nagdadasal na ako sa lahat ng santong kilala ko. But when I heard my friends, the crowd cheering for me, it motivated me to give my 100%. The challenge was, I was not used to the pole that they used during the competition. That was the main challenge for me –to maintain my grip.

It was scary because during tech run, I almost hit my head, medyo nalaglag ako sa ending part so I decided to tone it down because I don’t want to risk my first performance and mess it up. But I think it was okay so far based on the feedback from those who witnessed my performance. They enjoyed it; they said it was something different.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard and you’ve given?

Learn how to live outside your comfort zone. Before, my worst fear aside from split tricks is spinning, I have low tolerance of dizziness, but since spinning trick is mandatory for this competition I have no choice. Then I discovered that with constant practice and taking it by heart, you can do it and look for ways to achieve that.

Be open-minded when it comes to these things. I invited some friends to join me, but they were scared to get bruises, which are, well, expected since this is pole dancing. Also, discipline in terms of listening to your teacher to ensure you don’t get in an accident when you’re doing a trick. Try to be friendly with your classmates, I’m attending pole class not just for pole dancing itself but I enjoy the company of my classmates. You have your own strengths and weaknesses and you’ll realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect pole dancer. A certain trick may be easy for you but not for others. If you know the same trick and you can share it with your other classmates, it strengthens the pole dancing community and builds better relationships.


Abigail Sy, a full-time mom, wife, businesswoman, interior designer, and the champion in the amateur women’s category. Despite her busy schedule, pole dancing has made her feel more confident, fit, and empowered.

How did you discover your passion in pole dancing?

Four years ago, a friend invited me to join, and I just went to try it and I really liked it so I kept going back.

I had some very good teachers and they really started with the basics, it was difficult but I think like any sport or anything that you try for the first time it’s challenging; your body has to learn the language. Although, what was really nice in the class I attended is that it was a mixed class, there were beginners, intermediate, and some advanced students. I could see the advanced students that were very inspiring and beautiful women able to do things with their body that you don’t normally see every day.

Abigail Sy, Champion Amateur Women

Abigail Sy, Champion Amateur Women

What were your preparations for the competition?

I have a coach from Beast House [Pole and Aerial Dance Studio]. I worked with my coach who is also my choreographer, we do private sessions two to three times a week in addition to that I do regular classes [pole dancing class]—intermediate and advanced classes—then training some flexibility and strengthening classes on rest days.

My coach was the one who came up with the initial choreography for my performance. I chose the music because I really wanted something I could relate to, and then he came up with the choreography based on my concept.

Is this your first competition? How was it?

It feels a little bit surreal. I think it’s a little bit bittersweet when you worked really hard on something and it’s over, but I guess I’ve realized after that there’s still so much to learn—still so much I can do to improve my practice.

What do you do when you’re not pole dancing?

I’m married and have a three-year-old son. My husband and I have a restaurant called Taco Vengo, then I have another business, I do interior designs. 

What are your insights on pole dancing is just for women and you need to be in a certain weight to be able to lift yourself.

I think for women it’s very empowering when you pole dance, and when you stick to it you can really see changes and your body changes. I think before when I first started I was a lot thinner, but now I’m toned, I’m stronger, and that also contributes to body image.

Abigail Sy during our one-on-one interview

Abigail Sy during our one-on-one interview

In terms of pole dancing just for women, there are so many different types of pole dance and pole technique, there’s exotic which is a little more sexy and women where heels, there’s athletic where it’s more like gymnastics, there’s a little more contemporary, a little more performance-based, and there’s also men’s pole which is actually a little more different than women’s pole and it’s a lot like Chinese acrobatic.

What other improvements have you seen in yourself since you started pole dancing?

Definitely my flexibility and strength has increased but it’s just a natural progression when you stretch three to four times a week. I’m healthier, I watch what I eat because I know what I eat affects my practice, we exercise in general. I feel better about myself, I may not be as thin as I used to be, I’m more confident.

 What’s your advice to those who want to try pole dancing?

Go for it. If you don’t like it you don’t need to continue. I guess also for anybody starting who doesn’t have experience yet, don’t be shy. A lot of new students are kind of nahihiya. It’s a very safe community, and be sure to find a good studio. Find teachers you’re comfortable with, where you feel safe because that makes a big difference.


Nique Mancha, the youngest pole dancer and champion in the semi-professional category of PPC. He’s no beginner in pole dancing as he has showcased his skills in Pilipinas Got Talent

How did you discover your passion in pole dancing?

I started pole dancing in November 2014, at first laro-laro lang because my friend was already doing it and wanted me to try it.  I asked her to teach me and eventually enjoyed it. I trained in Davao and I had many teachers there, then I transferred here in Manila.

Nique Mancha, Champion Semi-Professional Men Category

Nique Mancha, Champion Semi-Professional Men Category

How was the transition from being a dancer to pole dancer?

It’s more challenging when it comes to strengthening skills. But coming up with a concept wasn’t as hard for me because I have a background in dancing, so I only had to focus on the pole.

Is this your first competition in PPC?

Yes, it’s my first in PPC, but I already competed in non-PPC competitions. I tried the amateur category but I wasn’t allowed because I was a pole dance teacher. I tried professional but wasn’t allowed, too, because you have to win one category first before you can enter, so I got in the semi-professional category.

How did you come up with the concept?

The concept was based on my personality. I’m fierce and feel like a queen conquering the world. Actually it’s an evil queen (laughs), a mix of fierceness and sexiness.

What was going on your mind when it was your turn on stage?

I was nervous because during rehearsal puro palpak ‘yung mga tricks ko wala talaga akong na-perfect. But at least in the competition ‘dun ko pa lang siya na-perfect, nawala ‘yung kaba ko.

Nique Mancha shares his advice to those who want to try pole dancing

Nique Mancha gives advice to those who want to try pole dancing

I practiced for four days because I had to go back in Davao for vacation, then I got back in Manila January 10 and had to rush my training. Although I was training already, I just wasn’t able to complete my routine. Nabuo ko lang siya the day before the competition, but thank God I was able to perfect my tricks.

What are your insights on pole dancing is just for women?

Pole dancing is for all. It’s more on fitness, it not like before where it’s just about stripping, today we focus on its fitness aspect so everyone can join, no matter you’re your weigh, size, or age is, those doesn’t matter as long as you’re willing and dedicated to learn.

What’s your advice to those who want to try pole dancing?

Try and try. Go lang ng go kasi wala namang mawawala pag sinubukan mo.

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