Walking Tall Among Gentle Giants

  • Written by Tess L. Lardizabal
  • Published in Women's Journal
  • Read: 10252

Menlo Park Police Dep’t code enforcement officer Ellen Hilario shines as model employee, wonder wife, super mom

THE petite Pinay cop found herself flying, with her gear soaring in all directions beside her. Then
she fell fast, zooming splat to the ground with a grim and ominous thud. A ’66 Chevy driven by a black
man she was accosting had just solidly hit her, leaving her muscles torn and  bones in disarray.  

The 2014 incident, however, failed to make a dent in  U.S. code enforcement officer Eleonor Hilario’s
spirit. Nor did it snuff her passion to continue enforcing the law and making  offenders  conform with

What didn’t kill her only made her stronger.  

When not immersed in her impossible tasks as a law enforcer, model mom and wonder wife, Eleonor, or
fondly Ellen,finds herself getting an award for being best employee of the year or simply battling
hazards of her chosen trade.

Despite her typical Pinay frame, this Fil-Am officer stands out at the  Menlo Park Police Department
at the San Francisco Bay Area in California.          

For starters, Hilario easily disarms strangers with her genteel personality and positivity. And she
engages with a genuine smile that makes even first encounters seem like years of friendship.

No marvel that officer Hilario was named Menlo Park Police Department’s 2014 employee of the year for
“making a tremendous impact in the community by addressing health and safety hazards, enforcement of
city codes/regulations, blight prevention, and quality of life issues.”

“I always have to prove and outdo myself at work not because I’m a Filipina or a woman, but it was how
I was brought up. I started working at my mom’s restaurant in 4th grade. Now, I consider myself
fortunate to be working with such a diverse group. Everyone is supportive of each other. Menlo Park is
a phenomenal city and it’s an honor to work at the Police Department,” beams Hilario.

Hilario gushes at how the Menlo Park Police Department feels like a warm, comfy home. “We treat each
other like family members. And we nurture each other’s abilities and dreams. I am just so blessed to
have such supportive superiors and colleagues. This is one of the reasons why it doesn’t feel like
work at the Menlo Park Police Department. Because the eagerness to serve and help others comes
naturally, it flows from within,” she reveals with profound pleasure.

Hilario takes pride in being part of the elite Menlo Park Police Department, one of the primary
agencies in the US to embrace body camera technology, among other humanitarian firsts like connecting
with the community in various ways.

The Menlo Park Police Department has been a pioneer in developing true public and private partnership
with the largest employer within the city — Facebook.

Facebook has been instrumental in helping the city build a service center and substation in 2013. They
also agreed to pay the lease for three years..

For security reasons, nobody can just get inside the one-million square foot Facebook HQ. Tourists
usually only get as far as the big Like sign at the entrance. And the only way one can enter the
premises is with the help of the staff or someone with  access to the main campus who can secure a
visitor’s pass.

This feisty Pinay became a code enforcement officer  by accident. After high school at the Mapua
Institute of Technology, Hilario studied in the U.S. and became a community programs specialist in
another city.

“My department was abolished by the state so I looked for a similar position,” she reveals.

Thus began her stint with the Menlo Park police. Officer Hilario’s punishing schedule has her working
10 hours a day, four days a week and playing mom-slash-dad to her kids 24 hours daily, seven days

Her husband, Rodel Hilario, runs the Rizal Funeral Homes located along Libertad (now Arnaiz St.) in
Pasay City, and Sucat, Paranaque. The pioneer in the trade and famous landmark was owned by the Pinay
officer’s late parents-in-law, Alfredo and Leonida Hilario.

Hilario says that just like any other winning enterprise, the family business continues to be hounded
by unfair competitors.

“Others have tried to emulate how the Rizal Funeral Homes is run. One funeral home even went as far as
copying the uniform and passing itself as another Rizal.  Another funeral home in another city passes
itself as a branch,” she discloses.

But Hilario quickly adds that Rizal Funeral Homes continues to maintain its niche as  among  the top
funeral homes in the country. “Nothing comes close to Number 1––in Pasay,” she states with pride.

Amid daily challenges, Hilario embraces every sunset with a positive mind. And heart.

The Chevy episode left Hilario with knee arthroscopy (torn muscle), tons of physical therapy, as well
as endless epidural and cortisone shots, MRIs and x-rays.

Pain has become a constant companion and the prospect of agonizing surgery is  not far behind.

Her assailant got away with a felony charge on his alibi that he did not see her and that the incident
was accidental.

Yet Hilario just won’t allow herself to be in a bad place. She carries on with her role as model
employee at the Menlo Park Police Department. Earnestly, she counts her divine blesings every day —
which include her loving hubby Rodel, as well as lovely kids Reece, Renae and Ryanne who adore and
love her endlessly.

The proud mom reveals that Reece graduated top of his HS class as cum laude.  Renae is following her
footsteps as a law enforcer and is winding up training at the police academy. “She will be done by
12/15,” says Hilario. Meanwhile, Ryanne is a lead teller at Wells Fargo Bank.

“My parents instilled in me the importance of working hard and being honest. I taught my kids to do
the same and to follow the Golden and Silver Rules,” shares Hilario.

Hilario definitely knows how to strut her stuff as an empowered woman. And this dedicated officer
without doubt  walks tall among gentle giants at the Menlo Park Police Department.

In her unique style, she towers over her tasks and life’s curve balls with an intense dedication to
help people and touch souls every day.

This is why she plans to continue paying forward for her blessings if ever she decides to park her
patrol car and hang her officer’s uniform for good.

“I intend to work for a couple more years, retire, spend time with my husband, and volunteer at non-
profit agencies that serve children, seniors as well as mentally, physically, or developmentally
challenged children and adults. By example, I  will continue teaching   my kids to always remember
that money may be important, but happiness is still first and foremost.  And that they should treat
everyone with respect regardless of what they have done or how they are in life,”  says Hilario.

Copy that.