Most memorable moments from Survivor: Philippines

Denise Stapley is the winner of CBS' "Survivor: Philippines" Finale & Reunion Red Carpet at CBS Television City on December 16, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Denise Stapley is the winner of CBS' "Survivor: Philippines" Finale & Reunion Red Carpet at CBS Television City on December 16, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) /

Survivor: Philippines was the 25th season of the show and aired in the fall of 2012. What were the most memorable moments from Philippines?

The lone good season from the Dark Ages of Survivor was season 25, Survivor: Philippines. This season really only fits the Dark Ages theme because it brought back former players and utilized the captain twist for the third time in four seasons, but otherwise it’s a tremendous season and has one of the best casts in series history.

So, what were the most memorable moments from season 25? Let’s take a look.

Returning Players

Normally I hate the idea of former players returning and captaining a team, but the three brought back this time around added something to the season without hogging all of the air time.

The returnees were Jonathan Penner, Michael Skupin, and Russell Swan. Each returning player had been medically evacuated in their previous season and were given another chance to play the game. Penner captained the Kalabaw tribe, Skupin was placed on the Tandang tribe, and Russell was a member of Matsing.

Speaking of…

The Legacy of Matsing

Matsing is up there for title of worst tribe ever in Survivor history. They lost the first four immunity challenges and were down to two members just four episodes into the show. Not only was Matsing rotten in the challenges, but part of why they’re still such a memorable tribe is because they were filled with memorable people.

Obviously, Denise Stapley – the winner of Survivor: Philippines – came from this tribe, as did fan favorite Malcolm Freberg and returnee Russell, but we also had Zane Knight, Roxy Morris, and Angie Layton.

Zane had just quit smoking before heading out to play Survivor and he’s most remembered for his “brilliant” strategy of aligning with everyone and telling them he wanted them to vote him out when he really didn’t. Roxy and Angie are memorable because of their beef with each other, but Angie is most remembered for her cookies comment at tribal council.

It’s a shame Matsing imploded so quickly and was down to just Denise and Malcolm by episode four because having this group for the long-haul would have made Philippines even better.

Great Cast

I mentioned earlier how awesome the cast was for Philippines and it truly is one of the best casts ever assembled. Denise, Malcolm, Lisa Whelchel of the Facts of Life, retired MLB player Jeff Kent, and Abi-Maria Gomes all gave us so many great moments.

This leads us to our next few entries…


The feisty Brazilian deserves her own entry for being so gosh darn entertaining throughout the season. Abi-Maria was fortunate that the Tandang tribe didn’t go to a single tribal council before the merge. Despite being in a good situation when the tribes merged, her attitude rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and she quickly found herself on the outs.

Abi-Maria had problems with just about everyone playing the game with her and it’s a testament to how difficult she was to live with when Lisa and Skupin gave up a chance to take her to the end so that they could have a few drama free days in the game. That was a million dollar mistake for one of them.


Arguably the most popular player to emerge from Survivor: Philippines was Malcolm Freberg, who was on the doomed Matsing tribe, but managed to finish in fourth place. Malcolm came oh so close to winning the game, but even with an advantage in the final immunity challenge, he couldn’t quite make it to the end.

Malcolm has returned two more times since his original season and he’s yet to win the game, with his first go of it being the closest he ever got.

Denise’s Win

While Denise wasn’t someone who wowed people with her strategizing skills, she played one of the best social games we’ve ever seen on Survivor. That, paired with the fact that she attended every single tribal council and was only a target at one of them, is a testament to how her job as a sex therapist helped get her through the game. She listened to people and bonded with them, which is a pivotal part of Survivor.

Denise also won individual challenges and was all-around a good player. She might not be a top ten winner, but the social game she played and her ability to form bonds with people is why she’s considered a top tier Survivor winner.


Survivor fans needed Philippines, as it followed a slew of really bad seasons (Nicaragua, Redemption Island, South Pacific, and One World back-to-back-to-back-to-back? Yikes) and this season is unfairly grouped in with the Dark Age seasons. No one really considers it a bad season though and it gave us a nice break from some really awful seasons.

Next. Ranking Every Three-Time Survivor Player. dark

What do you think Survivor fans? What were your favorite moments from season 25?