CEBU, Philippines - Brazilian-Japanese model Akihiro Sato was named firstever Celebrity Sole Survivor of “Survivor Philippines” during the live voting and announcement done last Dec. 3. Akihiro, called as Aki by his tribemates, went home with the P3 million cash prize. He got three votes from the jury, which consisted of castaways, including sexy star Aubrey Miles who was eliminated and named the 7th jury, minutes before the winner was announced.

Akihiro turned emotional when he was finally declared as the Celebrity Sole Survivor. Three votes declared him winner over Solenn Heusaff and Ervic Vijandre, who both got two votes.

But before the votes were cast, each of the final 3 was asked why they deserve the title. For the national athlete turned model and actor Ervic Vijandre, he said that among them three, he was the one who needed the title and cash prize the most.

For commercial model-fashion designer Solenn Heusaff, she said she went through a lot before reaching the Final 3. “I came from a broken tribe, I broke a lot of my alliances, and I’m the only Magan standing… I’m in every Tribal Council of this season except one, and I’m the only last girl standing,” she said.

Akihiro Sato, who earned the tag “Mr. Nice Guy” on the island, said that should he win, he hoped he was able to show an example to people that it was possible to win the game without resorting to playing dirty or betraying tribemates. “We can show the right thing,” he said.

When the votes were finally cast, Aki got the votes of Elma Muros, Aira Bermudez and Jon Hall. Moi and Aubrey voted for Ervic, while Ahron and Michelle for Solenn.

Akihiro earlier told The Freeman in an interview that he had no strategy going into the competition. “When I joined, I didn’t know how ‘Survivor’ was. I just thought I had to be near to those who were strongest,” he said.

“Survivor Philippines: Celebrity Showdown” was shot in Ranong Province, Thailand in July of this year. The competition lasted for a total of 36 days. This was the first celebrity edition of the reality show, and was hosted by Richard Gutierrez. (FREEMAN)