Valbuena Bareng's photography journey began as a fine artist, where he discovered the power of photojournalism as an art director for a national ethnic community newspaper. Upon finishing Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, he moved to San Francisco, California, and immediately began working in the newspaper industry. Valbuena Bareng says, "That's how I got exposed to photojournalism." He was influenced by the great images documented by newspaper staff photographers. This inspired him to make the switch to news photography. If you were to ask him how he got his training in photojournalism, he would say, "It's from working in the newspaper industry for 18 years."