Work Date at Filling Station Bar Café


One afternoon, I open Facebook to find a notification. "Kari tagged you in a post." It's a video of Filling Station Bar Café, an American-themed diner located in Poblacion, Makati.  With the neon lights and cushioned vinyl booths, no wonder people kept comparing it to Riverdale's Pop's Chocklit Shoppe. Initially all four of us were supposed to go, since it was last 2015 when all of us were complete. But Kari and Abbi had family duties, so only half of the group were able to go. Arrah and I turned this into a work date instead. After all, she's been there before and said the place had good wi-fi. What better way to be productive in work and friendship than a work date?

Filling Station stands at the corner of the narrow street, P. Burgos. Although there was parking for their customers, I get anxiety parallel parking my car on a very narrow street. So I parked at a nearby mall and walked there instead. Thank heavens there's Google Maps, for I was able to find the place in no time! As I got to the cafe, I saw Arrah got us the table by the end of the café. It's a pretty good spot because the wall just screamed Insta-worthy background.


The place nailed the American diner look. Posters and ads during the Golden Age of Hollywood were on the wall. Household brand names in retro logos could be seen everywhere. Iconic American characters and figures were all over the place–heroes, movie stars, and comic book faces. The vinyls and rotary dial phones added more nostalgia points! And if you're wondering why there are gas pumps, it's part of their brand's story. Road trips in the US take a lot of time and gas, so they stop by filling stations to charge. But it's not only the car that gets fuel. Usually, there's a diner right next to the station. Hungry travelers would take their meals before hitting the road again with their gas-loaded car. Filling Station embodied the culture of American land travel to their branding.

So as soon as Arrah and I settled, we asked a server for the wi-fi password and the menu. Apart from the American food they usually serve, there were also Filipino and other Asian delicacies. We got ourselves cheese sticks and ordered burgers. We thought the food would take quite long so we split on the appetizers.  However, we underestimated how big the servings are. The servings are definitely American-sized! They matched the serving size of IHOP's and Denny's in the US. So honestly, we could've just ordered burgers and finish it all. But we had cheese sticks! So I guess we finished around 90% of our plates. While I regret ordering that much, the food was pretty decent so it's not that much of a bad thing.

I wanted to take photos of the food, but by that time, a server approached me to mention that cameras were not allowed in the premises. (I had my Canon EOS M10 with me.) But there's a catch: phone cameras are all right. That was so weird, because other than the quality, what difference did that even make? I respect the rule, but Arrah and I just wanted to know the reason behind it. We tried asking nicely, but honestly even the server couldn't give an answer. Oh well, it's going to remain a confusing mystery.


After we paid for our main meals, Arrah and I immediately got to work. We ordered their famous creamy milkshakes: Arrah got chocolate, I had strawberry. Once again, Filling Station surprises us by bringing extra ice cream (or extra cream?) for our milkshakes! It was mostly melted ice cream that matched our shakes, but adding it in was akin to a refill. We felt like Riverdale High students working on our projects as we sipped from our glasses while talking about friends, The Disaster Artist, and our next plans for future hangouts.


You see the Cadillac in the middle of the café? That's a VIP table of sorts. If your group can order PHP 3,000 and above, this is your booth! Had Kari and Abbi joined us, I'm pretty sure we'd have the chance to dine in this baby. But as long as there are no patrons in this table, taking photos with it or within it is okay. We asked a server to take our photos, and he took them very seriously in different angles. I'd like to think he has a secret talent and passion for photography.


After a long day sitting our asses to work, Arrah and I capped it off and parted ways. It was almost a productive workday for both of us, but there were no plugs so we couldn't finish work when the battery ran low. But we had 75% of the job done, had the creamiest milkshakes, and experienced the American dream without even taking a flight... What's not to enjoy? I myself love a well decorated cafe where I can immerse myself in another era, country, or universe. It gives me inspiration to create and more.

Aica Duran